This coming fall, The Flash will hit the small screens. We’ve already seen it and here’s what we thought. Here’s a secret: It’s every bit as awesome as we’ve hoped.
Barry Allen is known to comic book fans as The Fastest Man Alive. Or, if that doesn’t get out fast enough, he’s simple known as The Flash. After being struck by lightning, Barry can run at speeds that come close to that of light and dons a red costume. Armed with nothing but incredible speed and the indestructible belief in the good that is within humans, he fights for a better tomorrow. Barry Allen is The Scarlet Speedster. Barry Allen is The Flash!
Despite all this, Barry (Grant Gustin) is a bit of a klutz and a fluke. He’s late, buggers up pretty much everything and within the first three minutes of the show, he gets friendzoned by Iris West (Candice Patton) whom comic book fans know as the future wife of Barry. He’s late to a crime scene, because Barry is working as a crime scene investigator. He’s good at what he does, but still walks on thin ice seeing as he’s constantly late and doesn’t make himself popular. The popularity all goes to Eddie Thawne (Rick Cosnett) who’s a handsome detective with the most peculiar last name. Here’s a secret you might not know: Eobard Thawne is known as Professor Zoom, probably the most infamous of all Flash villains.
The New Origin
But before he runs faster than anyone’s ever run before, Barry Allen is just a loser of sorts. Yeah, he has a promising career, he has a bit of a thing going on with Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards) of Arrow-fame, but he’s eternally unable to move from where he is. He can’t solve his mother’s mysterious disappearance that people claim is a murder.
When he’s at a scientific exhibit that should see the new particle accelerator that could revolutionize all areas of science, Barry has to try to stop a burglar from stealing Iris’ bag. Because, you see, Barry is a hero at heart. He believes in the good of mankind and he believes that he should do whatever he can to make tomorrow better than today. However, the mugger beats him up. Bummer.
Back at his home-slash-laboratory, our hero watches a TV news program about how the accelerator is having a malfunction and everything goes wrong. And then… well, then, Barry Allen gets hit by lightning.
When he wakes up from the coma nine months later, he discovers that when he gets agitated, time seems to slow down. Or, as the scientists at S.T.A.R. Labs describe it: Barry Allen sped up.
Soon, Barry discovers that he has a new gift, and he runs. Faster than anyone’s ever run before. Faster than should be possible. One sonic boom later, he crashes into a laundry truck. His one sole word: «Awesome.»
The Good Hero
The Flash spins out of the CW’s other show based on DC Comics, Arrow. The sister show, based on Green Arrow, is dark, brooding and shows a hero who’s seemingly in over his head. The Flash is very different. It’s bright and hopeful and when Barry runs for the first time, you’re left in awe. Not because of the special effects, which are decent, but because Barry Allen, at that second, gets firmly established as our hero. With an orchestral score, we know that this man will make the day better. We know that this man will do grand things. Because in a later scene, Barry Allen says «For all my life, I wanted to do more. Be more» when he meets his friend Oliver Queen, aka. The Arrow.
This meeting of Flash and Arrow is a great character moment. It illustrates the different approaches to their vigilantism. «You can inspire people in ways I never could», says the Emerald Archer. And it’s true. Already, this show feels a lot different than Arrow. Barry Allen is less tortured, more happy, brighter as a character when compared to Oliver Queen’s Arrow who’s on a mission to avenge first his father, then his friend before turning into a morally ambiguous hero who’s out to save a city. The two heroes conclude their meeting – when they’re out of each other’s earshot – with one word: «Cool».
The first villain a hero faces off against is always important. Because there are a few rules that must be observed.
- The hero can’t lose. Sure, after the first bout, the villain can get away and cackle. But at the end of the story, the hero must beat the villain. Because that is the moment when we, as new viewers, get to meet our hero. He’s the guy we are rooting for as long as the show’s running.
- The villain can’t be a laughing stock. Sure, he has to lose, but he can’t be a joke. He needs to present a legitimate threat to our hero and whatever it is that he stands for and fights for.
- The villain can’t be a scheming mastermind, unless we’re in a detective story. Because then we don’t see our hero in action. Or his powers become meaningless.
- It can be cheesy. Because this is maybe the one moment where the hero must be fighting his way into our hearts. This is his one chance.
So who’s the Flash’s first villain: The Weather Wizard. Or a modern, more realistic version of him. Comic book fans know the Weather Wizard as green-clad Mark Mardon, a man who uses the Weather Wand to control the weather. Here, Mardon isn’t Mark Mardon. He’s Clyde Mardon, which is the name of the comic book Weather Wizard’s brother whom he killed. The actor playing Mardon is Chad Rook, who manages to give the part the typically cheesy overdoing of a Flash villain but also the seriousness needed to pose a threat.
Mardon is kind of weak as a villain, though. He’s barely in the episode. His part is just enough to keep a villain in the story to set up the plot and to give a broad outline of what’s in stock.
In the comic books, The Flash and his Rogues – yeah, that’s their collective name – are almost friends. There are times, when The Flash is more of their friend than the person who spoils their evil plans.
The following clip from the animated series JLU is a great example of how this works:
At the end of the episode, when all the villains are defeated, this dialog takes place:
Orion, after having berated The Flash for his lax attitude towards crime-fighting during the entire episode:
Now I understand. You play the fool to hide a warrior’s pain.
To which The Flash replies:
Dude, the bad guys went down, and nobody got hurt. You know what I call that? A really good day.
You see, this is the way The Flash treats his rogues. And in turn, they try to stop him, but they would never actually kill him. They do manage this once in the comics and they kept blaming themselves for years after it.
This Flash is missing currently from both the comics and the TV-show from the looks of it. Grant Gustin’s Flash does appear to be – while more emotional than his comrade Arrow – quite the detached character. But it’s this emotional involvement that makes him a very special and unique hero.
The Flash certainly looks good. The show has massive amounts of potential to be both funny and interesting in the long run, especially because the setup at the end is quite the amazing thing.
All in all, we’re in for quite some amazing stories, if all this comes true. Gustin does a great Flash and it’s nice to see that DC and Warner Bros. are trying to get a shared universe going on TV, seeing as their cinematic universe sort of doesn’t want to take off.To get you in the mood, here’s the short trailer. There’s also a longer one, but this one is a better moodpiece: