Warning: The following contains SPOILERS for Crisis on Infinite Earths.
Could the Flash of Earth-16 have accidentally erased all of his world’s metahumans from existence during their version of Flashpoint? A new theory suggests this is the case, while explaining away a continuity problem introduced into the Arrowverse by Crisis on Infinite Earths.
„Crisis on Infinite Earths – Part 1“ established a minor retcon; that the Legends of Tomorrow accidentally traveled to the future of Earth-16 in the season 1 episode „Star City 2046“ and that the older version of Oliver Queen they helped to save his city from the son of Deathstroke was not a future version of the Green Arrow they knew. This change helped to explain away several inconsistencies with the timelines of both Legends of Tomorrow and Arrow, particularly regarding the new Star City 2040 setting established by Arrow season 7’s flash-forwards.
Unfortunately, „Crisis on Infinite Earths – Part 1“ also established a larger paradox, as Sara Lance met Earth-16’s older Oliver Queen once again. Not only did this Oliver Queen not have any memory of meeting the Legends; he also had no memory of Sara Lance having survived the shipwreck of the Queen’s Gambit, spending a year trapped with him on Lian Yu or her joining the League of Assassins and becoming the Canary! He was also utterly ignorant as to the existence of other Earths beyond his own. It seems impossible to reconcile this unless one considers what event occurred shortly after the events of „Star City 2046“ – Flashpoint.
The second season of The Flash ended with Barry Allen hitting a new low. While Barry had saved the multiverse from the villainous speedster Zoom, he also lost his father, Dr. Henry Allen, who was murdered by Zoom shortly after Barry finally proved his father innocent of murdering his mother, Nora. This spurred Barry to repeat the journey he had made once before in The Flash’s season 1 finale, traveling back in time to prevent the Reverse Flash from murdering his mother when he was a child. This time, however, Barry ignored the future version of himself who had previously waved him away from getting involved, creating a divergent timeline which was dubbed Flashpoint.
Barry spent three months living in the Flashpoint reality, reveling in the fact that both his parents were alive and that he had finally trapped the Reverse Flash in a time-proof prison from which he could not escape. He was also able to relax and not worry about using his powers to help people, since there was a new Flash (Wally West) in this reality. Unfortunately, Barry’s actions had unintended consequences beyond his romantic history with Iris West having never happened in the new timeline. For instance, his foster-father Joe had also become a dramatically different man, succumbing to alcoholism without Barry’s positive influence and support.
When Barry began losing his speed and suffering bouts of amnesia regarding the original timeline, a gleeful Reverse Flash explained the truth that Barry had tried to avoid thinking about; without his mother’s death to motivate him, Barry would never have become The Flash. Realizing the damage that might cause to the whole of reality given how drastically it had changed the lives of his friends and family in the Flashpoint world, Barry reluctantly freed the Reverse Flash so that he could restore the timeline by murdering Barry’s mother. This largely restored Earth-1 to the way it was before, though there were still some side-effects. Chief among these were the awakening of Caitlin Snow’s Killer Frost persona, the resurrection of Ralph Dibny and John Diggle’s infant daughter transforming into a son.
While the immediate changes to Earth-1 in The Flash, season 3, episode 1, „Flashpoint“ were far less dramatic than in the original Flashpoint comic book, Barry Allen never becoming The Flash would have had a major effect on the Arrowverse as we know it. Ignoring all the times where Barry Allen’s survival was tied to the fate of the world, the same wave of super-charged dark matter that triggered Barry Allen’s metagene also created most of the metahumans in the Arrowverse. This wave was the work of the Reverse Flash, who would never have existed if there hadn’t been a Flash to inspire him.
Had the Reverse Flash never traveled back in time and replaced the Harrison Wells of Earth-1 in order to cause the malfunction with STAR Labs‘ particle accelerator that unleashed dark matter across Central City, there would be no Black Canary, Vibe or Firestorm. Without the Reverse Flash hiring Cisco Ramon to work at STAR Labs, there would also be no Captain Cold or Heatwave, as Cisco would never have built their specialized weaponry. This means that half of the original Legends of Tomorrow roster and the final incarnation of Team Arrow would never have existed had it not been for Eobard Thawne and his grudge against Barry Allen.
It should be noted that these are merely the direct consequences of Barry Allen’s deciding to rewrite reality so that he lived an ordinary life. It would be impossible to predict what unintentional consequences might have come up as a result of that decision. Rather than having his daughter become a son, for instance, John Diggle might never have had any children at all. Or Sara Lance might have truly been lost at sea and never become the leader of the Legends.
Assuming that the events of Earth-16 were largely identical to those on Earth-1, The Flash of Earth-16 might have caused these things to happen had he allowed Flashpoint to overwrite reality. The lack of metahumans and a Flash to tell him about his adventures in other realities could have led to an Oliver Queen who grew old knowing nothing about the other Earths making up the Arrowverse. It could also have changed the timeline of Earth-16 so that Sara Lance was never there to assist Oliver Queen in his war on crime and that there was never a John Diggle Jr. or Connor Hawke to become the new Green Arrow in 2046.
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