Superman’s Adventures in the Multiverse

By Michael Moreno

Crisis

“In the beginning, there was only one… a single black infinitude. Then the infinitude found release, and finally, the darkness broke, filling it with life. With the Multiverse. Every existence multiplied by possibility, and spread out before space and time in infinite measure. Civilizations rose and fell, and rose again to cross realities grasping expanse. Life, a precious gift persevering in the face of every obstacle, until finally, the age of heroes was born.” – Steven Amell as the Green Arrow in The CW’s winter 2019-2020 Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover event.

Superman has had a long history of adventures. Some of those adventures have taken him to other worlds. Worlds that not only reside in his own universe, but in a multiverse as well. In this article, I will be talking about some of Superman’s comic book adventures in the multiverse, as well as talking about his multiverse adventures on television and the possibility of a multiverse adventure on the big screen.

In the 1985 comic book story “Crisis on Infinite Earths” written by Marv Wolfman, Superman is united with other super heroes to face off against a villainous super-being known as the Anti-Monitor. This monstrous being is determined to destroy everything, and in the battle against the Anti-Monitor, many heroes perish, including the original Supergirl. A grieving Superman holds the body of Supergirl in his arms as shown in the cover art of Crisis on Infinite Earths #7. The story ends with Alex Luthor (who is a son of the Earth Three versions of Lex Luthor and Lois Lane) using his ability to manipulate dimensions to find a place for Earth Two’s Superman, Lois Lane, and Superboy Prime as well as himself to reside in after the reboot of the multiverse.

Crisis #7

The Earth-Two Superman, his wife Lois, Superboy Prime, and Alexander Luthor Jr made their return to the comics in the 2005-2006 “Infinite Crisis” multiverse comic event written by Geoff Johns, with Superboy Prime having become the main antagonist and wearing armor made from the now-deceased Anti-Monitor’s suit. In a battle with Earth-One’s Superboy, Conner Kent, Superboy Prime kills Connor (who would be resurrected in a later comic series) out of jealousy. After the passing of Earth-Two Lois Lane, the Earth-One and Earth-Two versions of Superman team up to stop Superboy Prime, preventing him from causing further destruction, and in the course of the battle, Earth-Two’s Superman dies in the arms of his cousin Powergirl.

Superman was rebooted in the 2011 New 52 series, and then later on the “Earth 2” comic series, which is another DC Comics universe separate from the New 52 main continuity, introduced Val-Zod, a black Superman. Val, having taken up the mantel of Superman, joined the rest of Earth 2’s heroes against Darkseid’s army led by his soldier Brutaal. Brutaal, is later revealed to be a clone of Superman who actually believed that he was the original Superman Kal-L/Clark Kent, and had caused mass destruction while using the original Superman’s identity. A showdown between Val-Zod and Brutaal would end in Brutaal’s death, turning him briefly into a Bizzaro-like form before he finally turned into dust.

The Val-Zod Superman would then later meet the pre-New 52 Superman in the “Convergence” multiverse storyline and join forces with other super heroes to battle Brainiac and foil his plans in making worlds fight each other for the sake of their existence.

After the “Convergence” story ended, the pre-New 52 Superman and his family found themselves on the New 52 earth in the “Lois and Clark” limited comic run. Having no way to travel back to their own earth, Clark, his wife Lois, and their young son Jon lived incognito. The pre-New 52 Superman, donning a black capeless super suit with a silver Superman insignia, fought crime and saved innocent lives in the shadows to avoid drawing attention from that world’s version of Superman. Shortly after the end of the “Lois and Clark” comic series, the New 52 Superman found out that he was dying. While the New 52 Superman was making preparations for his death, an imposter Superman emerged to wreak havoc and caused the pre-New 52 Superman to come out of hiding and assist the New 52 Superman in fighting and stopping the Superman imposter. After the pseudo Superman’s defeat, the New 52 Superman died but left his world in the protection of the pre-New 52’s Superman’s hands. The comics that followed after these events are now no longer known as the “New 52”, but have been renamed “Rebirth”.

Superman has had many adventures in the multiverse on the small screen as well. For example, “Superman: The Animated” had an episode where Lois Lane accidentally became trapped in an alternate dimension and explored a world where a grieving Superman teamed up with Lex Luthor after the death of his world’s version of Lois Lane. This version of the Man of Tomorrow is depicted as a right hand man to Lex, but is shocked to see a version of Lois Lane alive. After talking with Lois, Superman realizes that his partnership with Lex has caused the citizens of Metropolis to fear and hate him because of their oppression. After Superman confronts Lex and defeats him, Lois leaves this version of Superman and heads back to her world.

In the spin-off animated series “Justice League,” Superman and the Justice League are trapped in an alternate reality where their corrupted counter parts The Justice Lords (not to be confused with the corrupted Justice League from the recent “Injustice: Gods Among Us” animated movie based on the video game) have taken over the Justice League’s world. During the course of this story, it is revealed that the Justice Lord Superman had killed President Lex Luthor. This action fully corrupted Superman and turned him into a feared dictator. In addition, the rest of Superman’s Justice League were turned into the corrupt Justice Lords. Ultimately, the Justice League manages to find their way back to their reality, and they temporarily team up with their world’s Lex Luthor in order to take down the Justice Lords. Throughout the rest of the series, Superman and the Justice League try to avoid becoming what the Justice Lords had become.

In the third season of the 1988-1992 TV series “Superboy,” the fifth and sixth episodes have the Boy of Steel traveling into alternate worlds, one of which was being ruled by an evil version of Superboy known as the Sovereign, while another world had a version of Superboy who had lost hope after killing his world’s version of Lex Luthor. While stuck in one of these worlds, the Lex from Superboy’s own world poses as the resurrected Lex from the world that the alternate Superboy killed. In the end, Superboy fights the evil Sovereign, and the Superboy who had lost hope from the other world regains it and saves the main Superboy’s life from a Kryptonite bomb. The main Superboy then takes his Lex back to their world.

Later on in the third season, Superboy would again travel into the multiverse in episodes 25 and 26, where he would meet not only a Tarzan-like child version of himself, but also an older version of himself (a retired Superman, who is also friends with a version of Lex Luthor who is a surgeon). Using his surgical talent, Lex helps to save Superboy’s life after the boy was wounded with a Kryptonian crystal shard by another Lex Luthor. Superboy recovers from his injury, and stops Lex. Saving the Tarzan Superboy from him. The retired Superman shows up to look after the Tarzan Superboy as the main Superboy heads home to his own universe.

In season 3, episode 13 of the series “Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman,” Lois Lane winds up stuck in another dimension, one where that world’s Lois Lane had died before ever meeting Clark Kent. Lois helps this world’s version of Clark become the Man of Steel before finding her way back home. In the following season, season 4, episode 15, the storyline features the return of the alternate version of Superman, when the main one is trapped inside a dimensional mirror laid out by the villain Tempus. This version of Superman, with the help of time traveler H G Wells, helps Lois stop Tempus and return her Clark.

In episode 12 of the sixth season of “Smallville,” Clark falls from his barn’s balcony and is knocked unconscious. When he wakes up, he finds himself in a reality where he is not from Krypton, but instead was institutionalized for delusions of having superpowers. Clark escapes to find that his mother is engaged to Lionel Luthor, and that Lex is in a wheel chair due to Clark trying to “save” him. As Clark begins to question his sanity, the Martian Manhunter makes his appearance and warns Clark that a Phantom Zone escapee has invaded his mind and is keeping him trapped in a fake reality inside of his own head. With the help of the Martian Manhunter, Clark realizes that the so called “doctor” treating him was, in fact, the Phantom Zone escapee, and Clark is freed from his mental prison. Clark and the Martian then capture the Phantom Zone criminal. While not an official jump to an alternate reality, Clark did experience an alternate reality that was not his own, an alternate reality within his own mind.

In episode 18 of the seventh season of “Smallville,”, Clark is at his barn and feeling down about how Lana has been left in a coma due to an attack from Brainiac, and he feels responsible. Wishing that he never made it to earth as a child, Clark is transported to a reality where he doesn’t exist. There Clark learns that Lex Luthor is president of the United States, and that Milton Fine, aka Brainiac, is advising him to take action that would lead to global ruin. Clark finds his cousin Kara, but they both fail to stop Lex and Fine. Fine shoots Kal-El, causing him to wake up in a tunnel of light to the sound of his father Jor-El’s voice. Jor-El tells him that he can’t change the past, and that he must travel back in time to stop Fine from killing Clark as a baby on Krypton. Clark travels back to Krypton and finds his cousin Kara. They both fight Brainiac, and as Kara destroys the android, Clark places his infant self into his spacecraft. Clark and Kara then travel back to their present in Smallville, escaping Krypton’s fate. In the last scene of the episode at the Kent house, Kara opens the refrigerator for some milk, but then collapses and has a brief seizure.

In the tenth episode of season 10 of “Smallville,” Clark accidently activates a Kryptonian cylinder and is sent into a world where he was raised by Lionel Luthor. He learns that, in this world, his evil double is known as Clark Luthor aka Ultraman, and that he uses his powers for evil. As Clark tries to find his way home, his evil lookalike on his world harms his friends and fiancé Lois Lane. Clark manages to find another cylinder to activate and returns home with aid from Oliver Queen, who at first thought Clark was an enemy. As Clark apologizes to everyone for his doppelganger’s behavior, the episode ends with Lionel having managed to find his way to Clark’s world.

In season 10, episode 17 of “Smallville,” Clark Luthor, aka Ultraman, returns to Clark Kent’s world and traps Clark in his world using the Kryptonian cylinder. While stuck in Ultraman’s world, Clark discovers that Ultraman murdered Oliver Queen, leaving Lois Lane a widow. Clark then encounters a distrusting Jonathan Kent who has given up hope. Clark reminds him that there is still a chance for him to find happiness by reuniting with his separated wife Martha. Clark then gets transported back to his world with help from his fiancé Lois Lane and scientist Emil Hamilton using the cylinder. Meanwhile Clark Luthor tries to force Tess Mercer into helping him find his father Lionel so that he can kill him. Tess defies him, and just as the Ultraman is about to kill her, Clark Kent rushes in to save her. A brief battle happens between the two Supermen that ends at Clark Kent’s Fortress of Solitude. Clark convinces his lookalike to return to his world where he could be guided by his own version of the AI Jor-El to hopefully lead a better life. The episode ends with the alternate Jonathan Kent going to Martha’s apartment and ringing her doorbell.

The CW Superman (played by Tyler Hoechlin) has helped his cousin Supergirl (played by Melissa Benoist) a couple of times in the annual CW crossovers. In the 2018-2019 “Elseworlds” crossover event, Superman teamed up with his cousin Supergirl, Green Arrow, and The Flash to battle Deegan, a Superman imposter who had used the magical Book of Destiny to turn himself into an evil Superman dictator. After Deegan’s defeat, the cosmic being known as The Moniter, who had orchestrated the event as a test to find the Multiverses’ strongest heroes, warns Superman and the rest of the heroes of a greater threat.

In the following year (The CW crossover 2019-2020), Superman once again joins Supergirl and the rest of the Multiverse’s greatest heroes to find other heroes known as the Paragons. As Superman travels the multiverse looking for one of the Paragons known as the Paragon of Truth, he briefly meets Earth-167’s Clark Kent (played by Tom Welling), and asks him to help in saving the Multiverse. Before Earth-167’s Clark can give an answer, Superman (Tyler Hoechlin) and his team are teleported away by Lex Luthor (Jon Cryer) who has taken the Book of Destiny to teleport Superman and his friends away so that he could murder Clark (Tom Welling) with kryptonite. Clark reveals to Lex that he no longer has powers, having sacrificed them so that he could have a family with Lois Lane and lead a normal life. Seeing that there was no longer any point in killing Clark, Lex decides to leave in search of his next Superman target. Superman (Tyler Hoechlin) and his friends manage to find the Paragon of Truth, who turns out to be Earth-96’s Superman played by actor Brandon Routh. Routh’s Superman tells the other Superman and his companions about what happened to his Lois Lane and friends having been murdered by a “reject from Gotham” in a mass explosion. After learning of this news, Superman (Hoechlin) and his allies ask the other Superman (Routh) for help against not only the Anti-Moniter, but Lex Luthor as well. As Superman (Routh) decides to help, Lex Luthor appears with the Book of Destiny and brainwashes Superman (Routh) to attack The CW’s main Superman (Hoechlin). A battle ensues between the two Supermen, as Lois Lane (Bitsie Tulloch) and Iris West (Candice Patton) watch. Luthor stands mocking the two Supermen battling each other, but Lois knocks him unconscious, forcing him to drop the book. Lois and Iris use the Book of Destiny to un-brainwash Earth-96’s Superman (Routh) from killing the other, reminding him of why his friends love and care about him. After Superman (Routh) recovers, he joins the rest of the team of heroes and Paragons in an effort to prevent the Anti-Moniter from wiping out all of existence throughout the Multiverse. Things go from bad to worse when the Anti-Moniter attacks, and erases both Supermen and half of the heroes from existence. Supergirl, The Flash, Batwoman, Lex Luthor and the rest of the Paragons are left to battle the Anti-Moniter and defend the rest of existence. With the help of the Green Arrow (Stephen Amell), who had died but was resurrected and transformed into the spirit entity known as The Spectre, and teaming up with The Moniter to defeat his dark opposite, the group manages to vanquish the Anti-Moniter and restore the Multiverse, together with saving both Supermen.

A tie-in comic titled “Crisis on Infinite Earths: Paragons Rising, The Deluxe Edition” (written by Marv Wolfman and Marc Guggenheim and not to be confused with Marv Wolfman’s original DC multiverse 1985 comic event “Crisis on Infinite Earths”) features a story of Tyler Hoechlin’s Superman and Brandon Routh’s Superman leading a team of Supermen to battle a team of Lex Luthors. Team Superman has unexpected help from Jon Cryer’s Lex Luthor, and manages to defeat team Luthor. This story happens during The CW’s “Crisis on Infinite Earths” crossover event.

In the first season of The CW series “Superman & Lois,” Superman’s (Tyler Hoechlin) adversary for the first half of the season appears to have been a version of his arch nemesis Lex Luthor from another universe. As the season progresses, “Captain Luthor” turned out to actually be John Henry Irons (Wolé Parks) aka the superhero known as Steel from another reality. John Henry, having failed to save his wife Lois from his world’s evil version of Superman, travels to Earth Prime on a mission to kill that world’s Superman, unaware that the Man of Steel is a hero on that planet. Earth Prime’s Lois Lane (Bitsie Tulloch) manages to convince John Henry that Superman is a good man on this planet, and would never attack it. Scenes of what happened to John Henry’s world are shown throughout the first half of the season where the evil Superman kills Lois, attacks Metropolis, and tries to kill John Henry who was piloting his space craft on his way to Earth Prime. Currently, the evil Superman has yet to make his reappearance. By the end of the first season, John Henry Iron’s daughter Natalie (Tayler Buck) finds her way to Earth Prime using a space craft similar to her father’s to be reunited with him.

In season 2 of “Superman & Lois,” Superman’s deformed lookalike Bizaorro, makes his way to Earth Prime on a mission to kill cult leader Ally Allston (Rya Kihlsted), convinced that Ally would ruin Earth Prime the same way his world’s version of Ally ruined his world. In the course of hunting Ally down, Bizarro comes across Lieutenant General Mitch Anderson’s super team and kills two of the three super soldiers. Eventually Superman captures Bizarro and learns of his mission to kill Ally. The Lieutenant General decides to use X-K Kryptonite inhalers to give himself superpowers so that he can battle Superman, Morgan Edge, and kill Bizarro. After killing Bizarro, Anderson finds Ally and combines the mysterious necklace that Alley possessed with the one that belonged to Bizarro to open a portal to another reality (Bizarro’s world). Anderson flies into the portal but Alley is captured by the Man of Steel. Later Alley escapes custody with the help of Lois Lane’s sister Lucy (Jenna Dewan) who has been brainwashed into Alley’s cult. Alley steps through the portal, and Superman (having arrived too late to stop her) goes in after her to bring her back. Currently in the show’s timeline, Superman has been missing for one month, but the emergence of Jonathan Kent’s lookalike from the world of Bizarro, will most likely answer the question of “where is Superman?” soon. Recent trailers of the upcoming episode have shown a glimpse of what appears to be what Bizarro’s life was like. Having a life of fame and luxury, it looks to be as if Bizarro is known as his world’s greatest celebrity. For now, it is unknown whether or not Bizarro was a hero like Superman on his world. However, most likely we will find out soon when new episodes return on April 26.

In the 2010 animated film “Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths,” Superman and the Justice League meet a heroic version of Lex Luthor from another universe. A universe where the villains are heroes, and the heroes are villains. This new alternate version of Lex seeks the help of Superman and the Justice League to free his world from the villainous Ultraman, Superman’s evil counterpart and his evil version of the Justice League known as the Crime Syndicate. Unlike the animated “Justice League” series’ Justice Lords and the Injustice Superman and his regime from the video game series “Injustice: Gods Among Us”, the Crime Syndicate doesn’t rule with dictatorship that they believe is good for the people. Instead their motives are exactly what their name means. To spread crime, fear and evil for control of the planet. They are the polar opposite of the Justice League and what they stand for. The movie leads up to a climactic battle between Superman and his Justice League team versus Ultraman and his Crime Syndicate.

In the 2021 animated film “Justice Society WWII”, the superfast superhero The Flash, ends up in a parallel universe where Wonder Woman and various members of the Justice Society are at war with Nazi Germany in World War II. During the course of the film, The Flash meets a man referred to as “Shakespeare,” who turns out to be an alternate version of Clark Kent. Clark is reluctant to use his powers to fight in the war. It isn’t until the final battle against Aquaman (who has been brain washed by his Nazi-supporting advisor) that Superman decides to help his fellow superheroes fight off Nazi bombers and prevent them from destroying Manhattan. After the battle, The Flash finds his way back to his world and discusses with Superman about forming a team of heroes.

In the 2021 animated film “Injustice” (based on the 2013 video game “Injustice: Gods Among Us”), an alternate version of Superman becomes the world’s dictator after the Joker murders his wife Lois Lane, their unborn child, and Metropolis. After killing the Joker, Superman and half of the Justice League start to take over the planet, ending freedoms and forcing their will in order to stop all crime. Wanting no part in Superman’s new world order, Batman forms his own team of super heroes to combat Superman and his regime. The film leads to an epic climax in a battle between the regime Superman, and an alternate version of himself from another universe who still stands for freedom and justice. It isn’t until an alternate version of Lois Lane arrives and convinces the tyrannical Superman to change his ways that he comes around.

In March 18, 2021, Zack Snyder released his version of the “Justice League” film on HBO Max. While Superman didn’t travel to any multiverse in that film, there are a few nightmare scenes of a possible dark future (Darkseid taking over earth, the death of some of the Justice League members, and a dream sequence showing a glimpse of an evil Superman). The Flash also changes the course of history with his super speed to save the earth from the outcome of Darkseid’s attempt at taking over the planet. This is a brief victory though, as Darkseid vows to make his way to earth. The Multiverse is briefly mentioned by Darkseid’s minion Steffenwolf, talking about his master’s search for the Anti-Life Equation saying, “The Anti-Life Equation. The key to controlling all life and all will throughout the multiverse.”

In an interview with comicbook.com, Superman actor Brandon Routh talks about his interest in the version of Superman from the “Kingdom Come” Elseworlds comic book story. (Brandon played a version of this Superman in The CW’s winter 2019-2020 “Crisis on Infinite Earths” multiverse crossover event). This multiverse crossover was inspired by DC Comics comic book crossover by the same name. Brandon also mentions the upcoming 2022 “The Flash” film and the possibility of coming back to the role of Superman saying, “I don’t know [what all of the plans are], but I do know that Flashpoint is coming out and that is opening up that world. When that happens and with, I suppose, the success of that, that opens up opportunities. Just like Marc Guggenheim did with “Crisis on Infinite Earths”, you can have multiple Supermen, and it works. That experiment is actively in process. And hasn’t been tested yet on the feature film side, but I think that’s what maybe they’re gearing up for.” While there has been no confirmation regarding any version of Superman showing up in the 2022 “The Flash” film, the new Supergirl (who will be played by actress Sasha Calle) will make her first appearance in the film. In addition, the film also marks the return of the original Batman film actor, Michael Keaton, in the role of an older Batman.

Superman actor Henry Cavill has also commented on there being a Black Superman movie now in development, as well as commenting on there being multiple Supermen in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter saying, “It’s exciting. Superman’s far more than skin color. Superman is an ideal. Superman’s an extraordinary thing that lives within our hearts. Why not have multiple Supermen going on? Joaquin Phoenix did a wonderful Joker movie; so what if it’s not tied to the rest of [the franchise]? They have multiple Superman comic book storylines happening at the same time”.

While there has been no news about there being any upcoming DC multiverse films involving multiple versions of Superman on screen together, “The Flash” film (which is rumored to have a connection to the multiverse) could lead to the possibility of there being one. And if a Superman multiverse movie were to be made, the question has to be asked, what would it be about? What would a Superman Multiverse movie even look like? Would these multiple versions of Superman unite to battle a common foe or foes? Or would they battle each other? Marvel superhero Spider-man recently had a movie where all three Spider-man actors (Tobey Maguire, Andrew Garfield, and Tom Holland) appeared on screen together as their versions of the web slinging superhero. A Superman multiverse crossover film starring Brandon Routh, Henry Cavill, Tyler Hoechlin, and possibly Tom Welling (or even Nicolas Cage) as their versions of Superman teaming up could be even bigger than Spider-man’s crossover film. It could even be one of the biggest Superman films ever made.

During the 2021 DC Fandome event, Jim Lee was interviewed by Tiffany Smith and showcased an image of art depicting “Crisis on Infinite Earths”. When asked what the image meant for DC’s future, Lee’s response was edited out leaving fans to speculate about the possibility of what is coming next for the DC Universe.

With as many adventures that Superman has had over the years, the multiverse is certainty one of the most interesting places the Man of Steel has explored. Whether if he finds himself in a world where he is allied with an alternate version of himself or in a battle against himself, the multiverse continues to be a place of endless possibilities for the Man of Steel.