The Arrowverse producers almost named this year’s “Elseworlds” crossover after another popular (and somewhat controversial) DC Comics event.
As you probably know by now, the three-night event’s title comes from the DC imprint that features “What if?” stories about the publisher’s pantheon heroes. Set outside of continuity, these stories imagined crazy ideas like, “What if Superman actually landed in the USSR?” or “What if Batman hunted Jack the Ripper in Victorian Lodon?” Given that the Arrow-Flash-Supergirl crossover was about Oliver/Green Arrow (Stephen Amell) and Barry/The Flash (Grant Gustin) swapping lives, it’s easy to understand why they chose “Elseworlds” as a title because it essentially poses the question, “What if Barry was Oliver and Oliver was Barry?” However, it turns out that the crossover producers had an initially far more apropos name in mind.
In this exclusive clip from the forthcoming “Inside the Crossover: Elseworlds” bonus feature, Arrow consulting producer Marc Guggenheim reveals that the crossover was almost called “Identity Crisis,” which is also the name of Brad Meltzer and Rags Morales’s 2004 limited series. And the fact that it shared a name with another story that looms large for DC fans is why they decided not to do it.
“The problem is that ‘Identity Crisis’ is another different iconic DC story. While the title would work perfectly for this, it would really be false advertising, because we’re obviously not doing the Brad Meltzer, Rags Morales Identity Crisis story,” says Guggenheim, who wrote the Arrow hour the crossover with Batwoman‘s Caroline Dries, in the clip. And he’s right, Identity Crisis definitely isn’t about a wacky body swap.
In the seven-issue series, Green Arrow, the Flash, Atom, Hawkman, Zatana, Black Canary, and Green Lantern team-up to find out who murdered Elongated Man’s wife Sue Dibny. Their investigation and quest for revenge ends up bringing several dark and traumatic secrets about the Justice League of America to light, specifically that the Teen Titans villain Doctor Light infiltrated the Watchtower and raped Sue many years ago, and that the aforementioned group of heroes (save Flash) decided to erase his memory and alter his personality. Not only that, but it was revealed that they used this tactic on others, including Batman, because stories about the good guys making morally questionable decisions were big in the mid-aughts. While Identity Crisis has its fans, it has also been criticized for having an unnecessary amount of violence against women (a.k.a. fridging) and for being grim-dark just for the sake of darkness.
Although this year’s crossover obviously ended up not using the title because Elseworlds was not that story, Guggenheim and the other producers don’t rule out ever adapting it later down the line. “Maybe one day,” says Guggenheim.
Once they passed on “Identity Crisis” as a title, they returned to the drawing board. “We had a list of titles that could work, and I think we all kind of gravitated towards ‘Elseworlds.’” he says.
Even though this year’s crossover wasn’t named after one of DC’s crises, next year’s will be. Last night, the Supergirl hour of “Elseworlds” revealed at that the 2019 crossover will be called “Crisis on Infinite Earths,” which is the name of one of DC’s most iconic and game-changing crossover events and has been teased on the Arrrowverse since The Flash‘s pilot.
The full “Inside the Crossover: Elseworlds” special feature will be included with any season pass purchase of The Flash: Season 5, Supergirl: Season 4, and Arrow: Season 7 on Friday, Dec. 14.
The Flash returns Tuesday, Jan. 14 at 8 p.m.; Supergirl returns Sunday, Jan. 20 at 8 p.m.; and Arrow returns Monday, Jan. 21 at 8 p.m. on The CW.