A lot of DC comic’s most-famous storylines have been adapted for the big screen in some way or another. Elements of The Long Halloween and The Killing Joke made their way into The Dark Knight. Parts of The Death of Superman and The Dark Knight Returns were written into Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. But DC’s most ambitious story, Crisis on Infinite Earths, hasn’t been adapted to films. According to a report by Hollywood Reporter, however, a plan to adapt it was in progress. Unfortunately for DC superfans, they have been scrapped.
According to the report, Superman’s appearance at the end of Black Adam was meant to usher in a series of tentpole superhero movies. These movies, which would range across all of DC’s major properties, would come to a head with an adaptation of Crisis on Infinite Earths. However, after James Gunn and Peter Safran took control of the DC Universe, they canceled those ambitious plans.
In the DC comic book universe, Crisis on Infinite Earths was a 12-issue limited series published in 1985. The story revolved around a villain called the Anti-Monitor. This character, who was from the so-called “anti-matter universe,” was bent on becoming the sole ruler of the entire multiverse. His plan for doing that? Simplicity itself: destroy all the other universes in existence.
As you can imagine, the story of DC’s Crisis on Infinite Earths played out across multiple realities. It featured thousands of characters with a story spanning from the beginning of the universe until the end of time itself. Featuring tie-ins across multiple comic series, the story involved both heroes and villains from across the multiverse working to either thwart the anti-monitor’s plans or to take advantage of the chaos for their own devices. Eventually, the Anti-Monitor’s plans were thwarted and the multiverse was reborn into a single universe.
Outside of the comic story, the reason DC published Crisis on Infinite Earths was as an excuse to reboot the entire DC comics universe. Writer Marv Wolfman believed that DC’s use of multiple universes was unfriendly to readers, and so the company sought a way to simplify things for readers who had difficulty following along.
The series was an astounding success for DC, with Crisis on Infinite Earths resulting in a 22% increase in comic sales. DC comic books had previously been lagging behind Marvel in sales, but the crossover event helped the company pull ahead — some have even credited the series with saving the company.
Of course, as anyone who has followed DC comics knows, the elimination of the multiverse in Crisis on Infinite Earths didn’t stick. The multiverse was revisited in the later comic events Infinite Crisis and Final Crisis, and the Flashpoint series also dealt with the concept of multiple realities.
James Gunn and Peter Safran have their own plans for DC films, however, and they don’t include Crisis on Infinite Earths. What those plans are, however, has not been announced. Many planned DC movies have been scrapped, and it remains to be seen what will rise from the ashes.