Earlier this week, it was announced, much to the surprise of geeks everywhere, that the CW was planning to introduce The Flash to their line-up of DC heroes as a companion show to Arrow. In fact, Barry Allen will be introduced early in season two of Arrow in a few episodes, before being set up to be spun-off into his own series. The show would be helmed by the Arrow co-creators Greg Berlanti and Andrew Kreisberg and directed by David Nutter, and the search is already underway for the man to fill Barry Allen's running shoes. So by this time next year, we will probably be viewing the pilot at Comic Con in San Diego.
A lot of fans have been lamenting the fact that a Flash television show means that he won't be getting a big screen adaptation anytime soon. (reports are that work continues on a Flash movie, but with the show right now having the momentum, I wouldn't bet on it.) But there are lots of reasons why the Flash is perfect for television versus the big screen, and not just because he had a television series once before. Here are nine reasons why The Flash might just work better on the small screen than the big one.
1. Flash's Speed Powers Can Be Done on a TV Budget
There aren't a lot of superheroes who can really be done properly on television without the very things that make them so super in the comics being somewhat neutered in the process. Characters like the Hulk and Wonder Woman were never even close to being as powerful as their comic book counterparts were back in the day, mostly due to the limits of what a television budget can give you. Even more recent superhero television fare like Smallville couldn't really give you the full Kryptonian power treatment all at once, because there simply wasn't the money for it to be done right.
But special effects, even those for television, have come a long way since even Smallville. And the kinds of effects that the Flash would need are the kinds of things that could feasibly be done on a television budget now. They might not look as good as they would for a big budget Flash movie, but they don't have to look terrible anymore either. Heck, they weren't even that bad on the old Flash show from the '90s; I imagine the right effects house could do wonders these days. A Flash show might not be able to give us all the things that his powers can do in the comics, but it could be a closer approximation than for most other superheroes that have made the jump from comics to television.
2. Forensics Guys on TV Are All the Rage
When the Flash was created by Julius Schwartz and Carmine Infantino way back in 1956, not a lot of average people knew what being a "police scientist" actually entailed, much less the twelve-year olds that were reading comics at the time. However, a lot has changed in the fifty plus years since the debut of Barry Allen in Showcase Comics #4, and thanks to shows like CSI and all of its spin-offs, not to mention Dexter, everyone in America is not only familiar with what a crime scene investigator does, I'd argue we are all mildly obsessed with it. The fact that Barry Allen is a CSI opens up the show to be something that hasn't ever really been attempted before - a superhero procedural. While I don't think all episodes of the show should rely on the crutch of being "CSI With Powers," it gives the show an avenue to explore that no superhero show prior to this really ever has.
3. Flash's Villains Are More Suited for Television
The Flash has simply one of the best set of villains of any comic book character, just a notch below Batman's and Spider-Man's bad guys. (Okay, maybe a couple of notches below Batman's. The caped crusader does have the best.) What he doesn't have, though, are the kind of villains who who could anchor a $200 million dollar movie. Characters like Captain Cold, the Top, Captain Boomerang, Heat-Wave and Mirror Master would pretty much all have to be used together in one movie to really come across as a big enough threat to justify a big budget film, and then what? You've blown your load in your first Flash movie, and don't have a lot left for sequels. And let's face it-Flash's classic Rogues have very silly "of their time" names and powers; they've been developed into cooler characters since their early days, but to non-comics-geek moviegoers, names like Captain Cold and Pied Piper are going to come across as cheesy. Like 1966 Batman television show cheesy.
But on the small screen, you can introduce all these bad guys slowly and organically. You set up Len Snart as a crooked con man first for example, so when he finally dons the white parka and starts using the freeze ray and going by the name Captain Cold, the audience is less inclined to chuckle to themselves over the name and the powers because they already love (or hate) this guy. The same logic applies to all the other villains as well. What makes the Flash rogues interesting among villains in superhero comics is that many of them aren't "evil" per se, and almost none of them are cold blooded killers. They also have a unique "gentleman's agreement" with the Flash to not hurt innocents when committing crimes, and a code of conduct they live by. This makes them almost all sympathetic to a large extent, and makes their relationship to the Flash complex and nuanced, almost like a love/hate relationship. The perfect fodder for a television series.
Except Gorilla Grodd. Let's just not even attempt that one on television.
4.Television Is the Perfect Avenue for Time-Travel and Alternate-Dimension Stories
Popular genre television shows have their favorite tropes they like to go back to time and time again, and usually we as fans love them and eat them up with a spoon every time. Among those tropes are time-travel stories and alternate-universe stories.Just look at something like Star Trek; the most beloved episodes almost always center on time travel or mirror universes and such. In the comics, part of the Flash's powers is his ability to run fast enough to break the time barrier, allowing him to travel to other time periods.
Not to mention, he has the ability to vibrate at speeds that allow him to travel between dimensions as well. This opens up the show to all kinds of fun sci-fi story possibilities, and maybe even the very first hints in live-action of a DC Multiverse. Now how cool would that be?
5. The Flash Family Makes For the Best Supporting Cast
Much like fellow Justice Leaguer Batman, the Flash has a great supporting cast of fellow speedsters: characters like Max Mercury, Jesse Quick, Impulse and of course his nephew Wally West, who goes from being the junior sidekick Kid-Flash to being the third Flash, seen as the Flash for many Gen-Xers like myself. While a Flash show would (presumably) only have one speedster in the form of Barry himself in the first season or two, they could introduce characters like Wally and Max before giving them powers similar to Barry's. Similar to the rogues, a television show gives the opportunity to develop them as characters before developing them as heroes...so when they do get powers of their own, it's extra awesome for the viewers. It should also be mentioned that Wally West, a huge favorite among comics fans, doesn't seem to have a place in the whole "New 52" thing going on at DC Comics right now. Having a version of Wally on television might ease our pain on that front.