A DC-TV Primer: the CW Network’s superhero lineup
Tuesday: the Flash
From Wikipedia (as I said before, if they are going to do the work FOR me …):
CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR SEASONS ONE & TWO
Season One: After witnessing his mother’s (Michelle Harrison) supernatural murder and his father’s (John Wesley Shipp) wrongful conviction for the crime, Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) is taken in by Detective Joe West (Jesse L. Martin) and his family. Allen becomes a brilliant but socially awkward crime scene investigator for the Central City Police Department. His obsession with his tragic past causes him to become an outcast among his peers; he investigates cold cases, paranormal occurrences, and cutting-edge scientific advancements that may shed light on his mother’s murder. No one believes his description of the crime—that a ball of lightning with the face of a man invaded their home that night—and Allen is fiercely driven to vindicate himself and to clear his father’s name. Fourteen years after his mother’s death, an advanced particle accelerator malfunctions during its public unveiling, bathing the city center with a previously unknown form of radiation during a severe thunderstorm. Allen is struck by lightning from the storm and doused with chemicals in his lab. Awakening after a nine-month coma, he discovers he has the ability to move at superhuman speeds. Dr. Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh), the disgraced designer of the failed particle accelerator, describes Barry’s special nature as “metahuman”; Allen soon discovers that he is not the only one who was changed by the radiation. Allen vows to use his gifts to protect Central City from the escalating violence of metahuman criminals. He is aided by a few close friends and associates who guard his secrets.
Season Two: Six months after the events of the first season, after a singularity event, the Flash is recognized as Central City’s hero. However, the event brings an evil from a parallel universe to Central City in the form of the speedster Zoom (Teddy Sears; voiced by Tony Todd; Ryan Handley in costume) who seeks to eliminate everyone connected to the Speed Force throughout the multiverse. Harrison Wells’ parallel universe counterpart, and his daughter Jesse (Violett Beane), work to help Barry and his friends stop Zoom. Joe and his daughter, Iris (Candice Patton), struggle with their shared painful past related to their family, especially after the arrival of Iris’s brother Wally West (Keiynan Lonsdale), whom Francine West (Vanessa A. Williams) gave birth to shortly after abandoning her family. After Zoom kills Barry’s father, the season concludes with Barry travelling back in time to save his mother’s life from the Reverse-Flash.
If I were ever asked to create a television show based on the Flash, I would refuse. This show has already done it. I. Love. This. Show.
Every character. Every Villain, Every plotline. Its tone. Its mood.
When I decided to finally watch the DC-CW programs, this was my first pick. That caused some problems: Arrow had already been on for two seasons and its cast’s appearances in Flash spoiled some Arrow plotlines (“So-and-so just took over Queen Industries.” “I’m sorry to hear about the death of – fill in the blank”), but it didn’t ruin Arrow for me. Knowing what was going to happen to this character or that plot line didn’t bother me.
The Flash was the first superhero I discovered. Every six year old knows who Batman and Superman are, but the Flash was only on a few Filmation cartoons from the 1960s rerun in the mornings. When I was old enough to discover comic books, the characters Flash and Green Lantern quickly became my favorites (they were at one time both featured in the Flash comic book.
The comic book was simple without being simplistic. His abilities were easy to explain and easy to illustrate to this grade schooler. So were his rouges gallery: Captain Cold shoots ice from his cold gun; Heat Wave shoots fire from his gun. Got it.
Try explaining the Penguin or Brainiac to the same group of kids …
The comic and its characters were always fun and light – not childish, just light-hearted. The villains robbed banks and jewelry stores. Stories were (usually) done in one issue – rarely causing the reader to try to find the conclusion over the next month. (They did a particular continued story back in 1976 where Flash’s wife disappeared. It was a three-parter and it took me until 2001 before I found it on Ebay. After 25 years I finally found out how the story ended; as well as the continued Green Lantern back-up feature, too).
The show captures that joy and light-heartedness, even when facing serious subjects.
The producers changed some of the background of the characters. But the changes are not overwhelming nor are they insulting to we old-timers! It sticks pretty close to the Flash’s Silver Age origin.
With some exceptions: Barry’s parents were alive and well during “my” time and showed up frequently in the comic. Barry’s father being accused of killing his mother was a modern take on the character in the comics of the 2000s.
The TV show went with Barry’s father supposedly murdering his wife. Barry being “adopted” by the Wests was an invention of the TV show. So was the explosion of the particle accelerator that led to his powers (the lightning strike and the resulting chemical explosion WERE part of the original story of the Silver Age Flash).
The coma, being healed and then trained and helped in the use of his powers by Caitlin Snow, Cisco Ramon and Dr. Harrison Wells were all invented by the TV producers for the show.
But that is fine! If they want to make it canon I would not object! Considering now they are changing superhero origins on nearly a monthly basis; this would be one of the better changes!
A review and critique of the characters, the actors who portray them and the plots will come next time…
Original Material Copyright 2016 Michael Curry
Characters mentioned and their images are copyright their respective holders. Thanks to DC Comics, the CW Network and Berlanti Productions and the actors portrayed for the use of their images.
I also thank the original creators of all characters mentioned, whether or not they have been properly compensated (gratmens during the credits aside).