WARNING: This article contains major spoilers for "Starling City," the Arrow Season 8 premiere.
The Season 8 premiere of Arrow shook things up in a big way. Instead of getting ready to take on the next threat to Star City, Oliver Queen found himself on a different sort of mission. In the buildup to the upcoming crossover “Crisis on Infinite Earths,” Oliver is following orders from the Monitor in the hopes of saving the multiverse.
In “Starling City,” Oliver finds himself on Earth-2, where he has to go through a retread of Season 1’s storyline. As he was in the series’ pilot, Oliver is found on Lian Yu and taken home to Star City where he must deal with this Earth’s version of the Dark Archer, Black Canary and the Hood. On this parallel world, things are different — a fact that is communicated right off the bat, when the famous shot of Deathstroke’s mask with an arrow pierced through the eye socket replaces Slade Wilson’s gear with the cowl of Batman.
Naturally, this leads to a lot of questions, not the least of which is what happened to Bruce Wayne on Earth-2? Given what we know of this parallel world, it looks like Batman was Earth-2’s version of Deathstroke.
However, that mask isn't "Starling City's” only references to Batman. After the Dark Knight's cowl is seen in Lian Yu, Adrian Chase, this world’s version of the Hood, shares advice that was once given to him by Bruce Wayne.
Of course, Bruce doesn’t appear in the episode, and it’s never made clear what role he played in this universe’s version of events. However, it seems like Batman could've been Earth-2’s Desthstroke, considering what we know of this specific Earth, as well as the first two seasons of Arrow.
While the Deathstroke mask appeared as an Easter egg in Arrow’s pilot, it eventually led to the introduction of Slade Wilson, who appeared as a friend of Oliver in the past and an enemy of the Green Arrow in the present.
In the Season 8 premiere, Deathstroke’s mask is replaced with Batman's cowl, which means that Bruce Wayne may have occupied the role Slade Wilson did on the island, starting out as a friend to Robert Queen (who survived instead of his son) and, possibly, an eventual enemy of Star City.
While a villainous Batman might sound like a stretch, it’s also important to remember that Earth-2 has often featured evil doppelgängers to characters who are heroes on Earth-1. Earth-2 Firestorm, Killer Frost, Flash, Vibe and Black Canary were all villains on this world, meaning that this world’s Batman could have also easily been a villain. If that’s the case, then he eventually made it off the island and turned into a caped menace.
When Adrian Chase mentions Bruce Wayne, it’s never made clear if he was speaking of him a friend, an enemy, a superhero mentor or someone in-between. After all, the advice Chase shares could have easily been given to him by Bruce back when they were enemies — or in a public forum. For all we know, the Hood and Batman could have an epic rivalry on Earth-2.
Now that Earth-2 is destroyed, we may never know if this world’s Batman was a hero or a villain. Then again, Laurel Lance did make it out alive, and she may provide some more information further down the line.
Airing Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on The CW, Arrow stars Stephen Amell as Oliver Queen, David Ramsey as John Diggle, Rick Gonzalez as Wild Dog, Juliana Harkavy as Black Canary, Katie Cassidy as Black Siren, Katherine McNamara as Mia Smoak, Joseph David-Jones as Connor Hawke and Ben Lewis as William Clayton-Queen.