With the recent premiere of Gotham (and Constantine being just around the bend) and the incredible success of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and DC’s Arrow, I think it is safe to say that the era of the superhero has official hit the small screen. And with the announcements that Netflix is handling Marvel’s The Defenders (which is actually four separate shows that lead up to one tie-in super show) and the major networks are bringing iZombie, Preacher, Hourman and Agent Carter to televisions everywhere, it’s clear that heroes are here to stay. In a world where the anti-hero has reigned supreme for some years now, it seems like there may be a market for some more likeable faces at the forefront of our television environment.
Someone like Barry Allen (Grant Gustin).
The second season of Arrow managed to give viewers a quick peek at Barry Allen, the charming, perpetually late lab geek from the Central City Police Department—and more importantly, the superhero known as The Flash—and paved for a new series to emerge based on Barry’s exploits in Central City. While the hooded vigilante may still be making his rounds across the way in Starling City, the scarlet speedster has arrived on the scene to dispense a different kind of justice for a different kind of crime.
The Flash wastes no time establishing the inherent goodness of our hero—most likely to distance Barry from his CW comic companion, Oliver Queen—with scenes from his childhood. Some of the first scenes in the series involve a young Barry walking home, defeated, after trying to protect another kid from being bullied. Unfortunately, Barry isn’t quite fast enough to outrun the local schoolyard bullies, but that is no matter. His mother assures him that it is “better to have a good heart than fast legs”, which makes me think that Barry should probably have to pick one or the other, but I guess he gets to have both.
Some guys have all the luck.
But, of course, Barry’s mother is killed by a freak tornado of yellow and red light and his father (John Wesley Shipp) is (falsely) imprisoned for her murder … so, maybe he isn’t all that lucky.
Today, Barry works as a crime scene investigator (specifically a forensics analyst) in Capital City. He works alongside Detective Joe West (Jesse L. Martin), who happens to be both his guardian post-life-ruining tornado and the father of his best friend and crush, Iris West (Candice Patton). Surely, this won’t cause any problems for Barry’s love life down the road.
The freak accident that deprived young Barry of his parents has fostered a scientific curiosity in him that causes him to obsess (according to some comments from his co-workers) over weird and unexplained occurrences. This curiosity leads Barry to S.T.A.R. Labs to see a presentation by Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh) that will revolutionize the way that people look at the world … if his super-collider managed to work properly. Barry gets in a bit of a situation when Iris’ bag gets stolen in the crowd and he goes to chase down the bandit, but can’t manage to catch the man on foot.
Too slow again, Barry.
But, all of that changes when an explosion from S.T.A.R. Labs’ supercollider makes a super-charged bolt of super-lightning that strikes Barry and puts him in a super-coma.
Barry awakens in abandoned S.T.A.R. Labs nine months later to the face of Cisco Ramon (Carlos Valdes), Caitlin Snow (Danielle Panabaker) and Harrison Wells (now in a wheelchair). It turns out that Barry was thought to have died quite a few times during his coma, but Wells knew that Barry’s heart wasn’t actually stopping, instead it was going too fast to be picked up by the machines. So, Wells convinced Joe West that Barry would be best in his hands and got the clearance to bring him back to S.T.A.R. Labs.
Fortunately, Barry gets one heartfelt (literally) moment with Iris before things start to get crazy. Barry notices that time slows down for him whenever anything crazy happens and he watches as the events happen around him. But, it isn’t until Iris is almost killed by a (presumed dead) baddie that he actually manages to confront the folks at S.T.A.R. Labs about what has happened to him.
Barry wasn’t the only “metahuman” created by the S.T.A.R. Labs explosion. There is, presumably, a whole city filled with folks who’ve been given powers from the event and now Barry has to use his good heart and fast legs to bring them all to justice with the help of the friendly folks that created the mess in the first place.
From start to finish, it is clear that The Flash is a completely different animal that CW’s Arrow. While Arrow‘s Oliver Queen started off as a brooding loner looking to save his city from corruption, The Flash gives Barry a bit of a head start with a team ready and willing to help him protect Capital City from other metahumans. The Flash manages to be just as good (if not better) than Arrow without nearly as much melodrama or the grim, noir-esque stylings that DC has recently utilized with its movie and television adaptations.
I have high hopes for The Flash as a series and can’t wait to see what kinds of twists the writers throw in for fans of the series. If you’ve seen Arrow and are familiar with the comics, I’m sure you’re used to the fact that Greg Berlanti and his crew like to slightly switch up details from the comics (like changing which member of the Merlyn family would oppose Oliver Queen in Arrow) to stay true to the roots while also making things a little less predictable.
If you haven’t seen the pilot yet, keep your eyes open for easter eggs hinting towards some baddies for future episodes and plenty of references to Flash lore from the comics.
I just hope they can snag Robert Sheehan to shout out “SAVE ME, BARRY!” at some point.
- Rating: Ten super-lightning bolt out of 10.
- Comment: The Flash manages to remain true to the comics while providing one of the best hours of television I have seen this year.
- You might like The Flash if you like: The Flash comics, superhero stories, Arrow (but wish Oliver was less moody), Smallville or just good television.
The Flash airs Tuesday nights at 8:00 PM PST on The CW.