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.
6. Flash Could Help Set up a Television Component to a DC Cinematic Universe
With the announcement at San Diego Comic Con this year that the next step after Man of Steel was a Batman/Superman movie, it seems Warner Brothers are finally getting the ball rolling on a shared cinematic DC Universe. Before the announcement was made at SDCC, however, the Hollywood Reporter jumped the gun and announced a follow-up Flash film for 2016, followed by a Justice League movie for 2017. While they did not actually announce the follow-up movies to Batman/Superman at Comic-Con, I’d say that the the Hollywood Reporter has decent sources, and I bet a Flash movie was, at the very least, talked about extensively.
However, with a Flash television show now taking precedence, don’t expect any Flash movie to hit the movie theaters if the show takes off, despite whatever reports say about a Flash movie still being developed. The moment the Flash TV show gained momentum is the moment that the Flash movie died. Some characters are big enough and famous enough to have multiple iterations of themselves happening concurrently in different parts of pop culture; Dracula, Sherlock Holmes, Superman, all perfect examples. (I always say that no one’s head exploded when Superman Returns came out at the same time Smallville was on the air.)
But the Flash ain’t one of those characters; not yet. A lot of people still confuse him with Flash Gordon, for heaven’s sake, so having a Flash movie with a totally different Flash on the big screen while there is a television show on the air also called Flash? Yeah, not gonna happen. A different version of Flash may appear as a supporting player in Justice League film, but that’s it. But here is why even that doesn’t even need to happen:
We all know Marvel is setting up a television component to their cinematic universe with this Fall’s Agents of SHIELD show. Why can’t DC Entertainment do the exact same thing? Have Flash be the television component to a larger live-action DC world. When the Justice League movie hits theaters, presumably in 2017, have the TV version of Flash be that movie’s Flash as well. It’s really not that hard, and fans would love it. This is a complete no-brainer, Warner Brothers. Just do it.
7. A Flash Show Allows for the Possibility of a Wider Range of DC Characters
A Flash television series could serve a springboard for bringing a wider range of DC Universe characters to live-action. Despite what the good folks at Warner Brothers might say in the press about all their characters being movie worthy, we know there is a slim-to-none chance that beloved C-list DC heroes like the Creeper, Booster Gold or The Question are ever gonna get a shot at movie fame. But they could all make appearances on a Flash show, and hopefully be done in a better, less cheesier way than they were on Smallville. If some of these characters prove to be popular enough, maybe some of them could eventually be spun-off into their own series? Stranger things have happened.
8. Central City Could Be a Character Itself
One of the great things the DC universe heroes have that the Marvel heroes don’t is the notion that every major hero has their own unique city. Superman has Metropolis, Batman has Gotham, Starman had Opal City, etc. For the Flash, that city is Central City, a kind of amalgamation of various different real world Mid-Western cities. A television series would be the perfect place to really create and explore an entirely fictional town with its own unique history, similar to what Arrow has done with Starling City. A movie version of the Flash wouldn’t really have time to delve into something like this, but creating an elaborate fictitious history for an imaginary city is pretty much perfect for television.
9. It Allows a Wonder Woman Movie From WB to Replace the Flash Movie That Was Set for 2016
With the announcement this week of the new Flash show being developed, news also hit that the CW’s long in development Wonder Woman series Amazon was being put “on pause” until they could get it “just right.” This is kind of Warner Brothers’ party line when it comes to anything related to Wonder Woman – they need to get her “just right” of not do her at all. So basically, they don’t do anything with her at all and not getting it perfect is their excuse. Of course, none of that stopped Warners from allowing that God-awful David E. Kelly television pilot from getting made, and the only reason it never went to air is because the folks at NBC knew what a turd they had on their hands. Warners would have been happy to sign off on that version, so shows how much they care about how Diana is handled in the media.
While the Flash might be perfect for television, Wonder Woman needs a movie, and Warner Brother’s excuses just don’t hold water anymore. “She’s tricky” says Diane Nelson, head of DC Entertainment. Really – trickier than Thor?? Seriously? But now that a Flash movie seems highly unlikely for 2016, this leaves a hole in Warner Brother’s super hero schedule that Diana could fill. A Wonder Woman television series couldn’t do certain aspects of the character right; we couldn’t get a majestic Paradise Island, or Olympus, or gorgons or Minotaurs or any of that stuff that is so much a part of Wonder Woman’s mythology. Amazon would have to be Wonder Woman, the Smallville version. Which is fine, but it’s high time that Diana got her own big budget movie along with all her superhero icon peers. With a Flash television series happening and very likely putting the kibosh on a Flash movie, this is Warner Brother’s perfect opportunity to stop making excuses and just do it.
Other articles by Eric Diaz:
The Ten Most Dated Superheroes (That Are Actually Still Around)
The Ten Heroes Most Unworthy Of Justice League Status (Who Joined Anyway)
Ten Of The Wildest, Weirdest & Worst Hairstyles In Comics
Twenty Comics Panels To See At San Diego Comic Con 2013