Less than a week before the Watchmen finale on HBO, The CW delivered an Easter egg for the graphic novel and/or TV show during its “Crisis on Infinite Earths” Arrowverse crossover event. You might have missed it, but this subtle reference could hint that DC’s ongoing Doomsday Clock series in the main DC Comics timeline also exists in the Arrowverse. And if that’s true, a live-action Watchmen-Arrowverse crossover could be a real possibility.
During one of the earlier scenes of “Crisis on Infinite Earths: Part Three” (technically an episode of The Flash), we see John Diggle, John Constantine, and Mia Smoak arrive on Earth-666 to get help from the devil from the Fox series Lucifer. They need access to Purgatory in order to restore the soul of the recently resurrected Oliver Queen, and because “the pillars of magic are crumbling” due to so many Earths being destroyed, Constantine can’t access Purgatory using his own magic. So they track down Satan for a shortcut.
Before all that, however, right when we see the overhead shot showing “Los Angeles” of “Earth-666,” there’s a huge billboard towards the bottom-right corner of the screen that’s blatantly an advertisement for Watchmen.
The billboard is generic enough that it could represent Watchmen in any of its forms. It’s the classic Watchmen yellow, and there’s a squid-like symbol on the left side that’s both a big spoiler for the original story and a bit of an in-joke. Is it to promote the graphic novel? The 2009 Zack Snyder movie? The much newer HBO series that takes place years after the original story?
In the original Watchmen comic the superhero Ozymandias fabricates an enormous squid he drops on New York City, pretending that it’s the forerunner of an interdimensional invasion meant to unite humanity and avoid a Cold War-era nuclear holocaust. 3 million people were killed in the event and many more were left with psychic trauma — but the idea (mostly) worked. The HBO series shows us that for many years to come, Ozymandias made it rain tiny squids at random places around the world just to remind everyone of the event and to keep them afraid.
Therefore squids are Watchmen’s second-most recognizable symbol beyond a blood-stained smiley face button.
In the Doomsday Clock DC Comics series that concludes in December 2019, characters from Watchmen cross over with DC heroes like Batman, the Flash, and Superman. But here’s the catch: At least initially, the DC Comics and Watchmen universes are separate but exist as fictional stories in the other.
In other words, within the world of Watchmen, Batman is a fictional superhero based on Owl Man. But in DC Comics, Watchmen exists as a graphic novel similar to it does in the real world. Extreme cosmic events blur the line between reality and fiction, and it’s revealed that Doctor Manhattan caused the DC Universe to reboot into the New 52 era, among many other things.
For “Crisis on Infinite Earths” to establish Watchmen as a fictional universe resonates in some way with what Doomsday Clock is doing in DC Comics. This implies that separate from the Arrowverse’s multiverse is an entire Watchmen universe where DC Comics heroes are fictional.
Could it be even remotely possible that next year’s annual Arrowverse event will adapt a Watchmen crossover a la Doomsday Clock? That feels farfetched in terms of what’s legally possible, but then again, the likes of Titans or Smallville being part of the “Crisis on Infinite Earths” seemed impossible at one point in time. Yet here we are.
“Crisis on Infinite Earths” returns to The CW on January 14.