As a huge fan of The CW’s Arrow, I was doing happy little jumps when word first came that a certain crime scene analyst named “Barry Allen” would be appearing on the show. If your Silver Age DC Hero bona fides aren’t quite bona fide, “Barry Allen” is the civilian identity of super-speedster The Flash. Sure, Arrow had introduced all manner of characters from the DC canon, but this was the first time another major top-tier hero was being hinted at. It was soon revealed that Allen’s appearance would set up his origin as The Flash and serve as a backdoor pilot for a Flash series. Having seen the Flash pilot, I can confirm that it’s great fun, and completely understands what makes the character work. But given how grounded Arrow has been for much of its run, I’d been wondering whether The Flash would dip its toe into one of the comic series’ regular staples: time travel. Based on a new extended synopsis for the show, all signs seem to be pointing toward “yes.”
Here’s the new synopsis for The Flash’s first episode, “City of Heroes,” via SpoilerTV. You’ll want to pay close attention to the final paragraph:
From the Arrow creative team of executive producers Greg Berlanti and Andrew Kreisberg and director David Nutter, THE FLASH is a fast-paced superhero drama that follows the high-speed adventures of the Fastest Man Alive. Written by Berlanti, Kreisberg and DC Entertainment’s Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns, the action drama follows Central City Police scientist Barry Allen, an everyday guy with the heart of a hero and the genuine desire to help others. Standing still emotionally since the day his mother was murdered (and his father unjustly jailed for the crime), Barry was taken in as a child by the investigating Detective West and raised in a cop’s home alongside West’s supersmart daughter (and Barry’s dream girl) Iris. But when an unexpected and devastating accident at the S.T.A.R. Labs Particle Accelerator facility strikes Barry, he finds himself suddenly charged with the incredible power to move at super speeds.
While Barry has always been a hero in his soul, his newfound powers have finally given him the ability to act like one. With the help of the research team at S.T.A.R. Labs — including billionaire visionary Harrison Wells, biogenetics expert Caitlin Snow and the eternally upbeat Cisco Ramon — Barry begins testing the limits of his evolving powers and using them to stop crime, ensuring that no one suffers a similar tragedy to his own family history.
Working with his adopted father Detective West; West’s conceited partner Detective Eddie Thawne and Iris West, who’s earning her degree in Criminal Psychology, Barry uses his superhuman abilities to help the people of Central City and stop the rogues’ gallery of villains — many of whom have also been altered by the particle accelerator explosion. Concealing his identity behind his incredible velocity, Barry can not only accomplish feats faster than human comprehension, but also taps into an energy that allows him to access moments out of time — both past and future. With a winning personality and a smile on his face, Barry Allen — aka The Flash — is finally moving forward in life…very, very fast!
The Flash is all about time travel in the comics, having regularly used his ability to run reallydamnfast to circumvent that whole time-space continuum thing and pop into other eras. Even though it’s a far cry from the urban vigilantism of Arrow that helped spawn it, it seems that The CW’s Flash won’t be sidestepping the more fantastic elements its source material, and that’s a good thing. I mean, you’d have a pretty damn hard time telling a super-realistic story about a guy who can run faster than the speed of light. That being said, I’ll be just fine if they never get around to introducing the “cosmic treadmill.”
Without spoiling anything, I’ll also say that the Flash pilot drops one major hint that time travel will play a role in the story during the episode’s final moments. The show also teases the presence of the Flash’s arch-enemy Professor Zoom/Reverse-Flash, a character who, in the comics at least, hails from the 25th century. Whether that origin will stay intact remains to be seen, but all the little pieces seem to strongly suggest that The Flash will be embracing, rather than avoiding, the crazy sci-fi elements that have made the comic series so much fun over the decades.
With both Arrow and The Flash due to premiere in just a few weeks, we’ve got an interconnected DC continuity emerging on the small screen, one that’s already got me far more excited than anything Warner Bros. is attempting with Zack Snyder’s Batman v. Superman. And while only Arrow and The Flash are confirmed to share the same universe, DC is making a full-court press on the small screen even beyond The CW. In addition to Fox’s Gotham, which premiered a week ago today, Constantine is due on NBC late next month, and The CW has iZombie, based on the Vertigo comic, arriving sometime mid-season. Further down the horizon are CBS’ Supergirl series, TNT’s Titans, and Fox’s Lucifer, based on the character from Neil Gaiman’s acclaimed Sandman comics.
Chances are, at least some of those are going to suck, but I’m pinning my hopes on The Flash entertaining me for years to come. And if it doesn’t, I’ll travel back and change the timeline so it did.