Earth-2 Is the DC Animated Universe

The_Flash_Earth-2_Central_Cityscape“Ten!  X marks the spot!”

Remember the scene in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade where Dr. Jones was in a library looking for the Knight’s Tomb?  He finally finds the marker after he scales a winding staircase and looks down to a giant “X” (the Roman numeral ten) emblazoned on the floor.  That’s exactly what it felt like when it dawned on me that Barry, Cisco, and Harry didn’t just travel to Earth-2, they traveled to a live incarnation of the DC Animated Universe (DCAU)!  Just like Indy who couldn’t initially see the forest from the trees, I was, at first, lost in all the details of awesome comic nerdom — references, Easter eggs, and doppelgangers.  Taking myself out of all the excitement, I noticed that everything looked a bit too familiar.  And so, we have the biggest unseen Easter egg of all — hidden right under our noses — that “Welcome to Earth-2” is an homage to DC’s critically acclaimed animated properties that started with Batman: The Animated Series.

Batman_The_Animated_Series_Batman_LightningPeople who aren’t familiar with DC’s shared animated universe that spanned from 1992 to 2006 may have thought that the style of Earth-2 in The Flash was inspired by a 1940s retro look.  That’s semi-correct.  To be more specific, the look of Earth-2 is almost an exact replica of the world that was created by Warner Bros. Animation.  This universe — which is sometimes referred to as the Timmverse or Diniverse (named after Warner Bros. / DC creative giants Bruce Timm and Paul Dini) — was heavy on art deco.  Or a modern French art style that is characterized heavily by vivid colors and exaggerated geometric shapes along with symmetry and an embrace of technology.

DC_Animated_Universe_Metro_TowerAs mentioned before, the DCAU was born with the debut of Batman: The Animated Series (1992 – 1995).  This cartoon was created after Tim Burton brought Batman back to his darker roots in Batman (1989) and Batman Returns (1992).  Developed and created by Bruce Timm and Eric Radomski, the two pioneered what is known as “dark deco.”  Taking inspiration from art deco and the 1940s Fleischer Studios Superman series, Radomski would create the backgrounds from an all-black foundation.  This gave the series a serious, dark, shadowy, atmosphere along with a style that looked like it popped out of a futuristic version of the New York World’s Fair.  The resulting style name was a blend of “art deco” and “darkness” giving rise to the neologism “dark deco.”

DC_Animated_Universe_Justice_LeagueAfter the conclusion of Batman: The Animated Series, Warner Bros. / DC brought their most famous and legendary superhero — the Man of Steel — to the animated world with Superman: The Animated Series (1996 – 2000).  When characters created and developed from Batman: The Animated Series started to appear on this series, audiences realized that this was a shared universe.  The overall franchise spawned a whole slew of television series and films.  On the small screen, we had The New Batman Adventures (1997 – 1999), Batman Beyond (1999 – 2001), Static Shock (2000 – 2004), The Zeta Project (2001 – 2002), Justice League (2001 – 2004), and Justice League Unlimited (2004 – 2006).  In the film realm, we had Batman: The Mask of the Phantasm (1993), Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero (1998), Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker (2000), and Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman (2003).

DC_Animated_Universe_Central_CityThe DCAU’s shows garnered multiple industry awards and were highly acclaimed for their storytelling and strong character development.  They had such great influence on existing DC properties that many of their stories and characters were later adapted and written into canon for the comics.  Batman: The Animated Series solidified Mr. Freeze’s origin and background, and also gave birth to one of the one most famous villains today — Harley Quinn.

So take another look at “Welcome to Earth-2” and check out what you missed.  It’s basically the DC Animated Universe brought to life and a love letter to the awesome style that was born out of the creative minds of Bruce Timm and Paul Dini.  The whole episode was one giant Easter egg birthed from that giant awesome rabbit — not Bugs, though he is owned by the studio — known as Warner Bros. / DC!

SIDE-NOTE: When Barry, Cisco, and Harry were traveling through the universe tunnel — aside from all the other famous characters whizzing by —  did any of you notice the other Flash?  Look familiar?  It was the Flash from CBS’s 1990’s The Flash starring John Wesley Shipp — the actor who now plays Henry Allen — as the Scarlet Speedster.  This just means that all of DC’s properties reside in the same multiverse.  My olfactory senses just detected a delicious scent.  Oh wait, that must be the smell of the Crisis on Infinite Earths!  Hey, let a guy dream.

The_Flash_Universe_Tunnel_1990s_Flash_John_Wesley_Shipp

The_Flash_1990s_The_Flash_John_Wesley_Shipp_Arrow_Light_SignMake sure to visit Nick Tylwalk for his written recap of “Welcome to Earth-2” at Bam Smack Pow.

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Join Adam Kruger, Devon Stewart, Carolina Bonetti , and Jack Hind every week, live and on demand, for review and conversation about each new episode of The Flash. Tweet in questions or comments to the hosts all week using the hashtag #TheFlashAS

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theStream.tv Fan Show Network presents The Flash After Show. Tune in each week, live or on demand, for review and conversation about CW’s The Flash! At the helm of the show are writers & producers Greg Berlanti, Andrew Kreisberg, and DC Comics CCO Geoff Johns who help bring this DC Superhero to life. The series is produced by CW and is a spinoff of their popular DC Superhero show, Arrow. The Flash, tells the story of Barry Allen after witnessing his mother’s strange murder and his father’s wrongful conviction for the crime. Allen becomes a brilliant but socially awkward crime scene investigator for the Central City Police Department. After being struck by lightning from a storm and doused with chemicals in his lab, he enters a nine-month coma, and when he wakes up he discovers he has the ability to move at superhuman speeds. Harrison Wells, the disgraced designer of the failed accelerator which caused the storm, describes Barry’s special nature as “metahuman”. Allen soon discovers that he is not the only one changed by the radiation, vowing to use his gifts to protect Central City from the escalating violence of metahuman criminals. In the series, The Flash will face metahumans from the DC universe including Weather Wizard, Multiplex, The Mist, Captain Cold, The General, Girder, and Blackout. Barry Allen is aided by a few close friends and associates who guard his secrets.
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