Updated: 7/31/2013 – Greg Berlanti, Andrew Kreisberg, and Geoff Johns conducted a conference call with reporters to offer more specifics about their plans to make a spin-off of Arrow focused on The Flash. Click (or tap, depending on your set-up) any word in this very sentence to be taken to that story.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: the CW has a hit series based upon a D.C. comic book character, and it is now aiming to use that series to spin-off a new show based upon another D.C. character. That didn’t turn out so well a couple of years back when they (well, their predecessor the WB) tried to create an Aquaman show as a spin-off of Smallville. Maybe it will turn out better this time now that they’re going to try and make a spin-off of Arrow centered around The Flash.
According to Deadline.com, at today’s CW portion of the Television Critics Association press tour the CW President Mark Pedowitz confirmed their intention to introduce the Flash, the Dr. Barry Allen version, as a recurring character during the upcoming season of Arrow. This will be to set-up a potential spin-off show simply called Flash, which is being created and written by Arrow Executive Producers Greg Berlanti and Andrew Kreisberg and D.C. Entertainment’s Geoff Johns. The pilot for the spin-off will be directed by David Nutter. Arrow‘s other Executive Producer, Marc Guggenheim, will not be involved since somebody has to stay behind and continue making Arrow. Pedowitz also spoke briefly about the Wonder Woman show they have been developing at the CW, “Amazon is on pause (as) the script is not exactly what we wanted, and with an iconic character like Wonder Woman, we have to get it right.”
Barry Allen was originally introduced in the comic books in 1956 as a forensic scientists who attains the ability to run faster than the speed of light after a freak accident involving a suitcase of chemicals and a freak lightning storm (don’t feel bad, Allen, happens to the best of us). So, of course you’d put on a red suit with mock lighting bolts attached to your head, call yourself The Flash, and fight crime, right? He was actually the second character in the comics to be called The Flash, and he has been followed in the comics by Wally West and Bart Allen. After being killed off in 1985, the character was revived in 2008, and was rather recently the central character of “Flashpoint,” the limited comic book series which acted as a segue between old D.C. comic book continuity and the famous New 52 re-launch. The Barry Allen character was the one they used in 1990/1991 for the short-lived Flash TV show on CBS, with John Wesley Shipp playing the lead role.
That Warner Bros./D.C. is kicking the TV show wheels for The Flash is both surprising and not surprising news.
It is surprising that they are grooming a potential spin-off of Arrow after only its first season. Networks and studios usually wait until a show proves it can either build or maintain its audience beyond initial success. Plus, at Comic-Con two-weeks ago The Hollywood Reporter was saying they’d heard Warner Bros./D.C. had tentative plans for a Flash movie in 2016 to bridge the gap between Batman Vs. Superman in 2015 and The Justice League in 2017. Moreover, pretty much anyone who has superpowers does not obviously fit in with Arrow‘s realistic, Christopher Nolan-approach to superhero storytelling. Last time I checked running faster than the speed of light qualified as a superpower.
It is not surprising in that Warner Bros. Pictures is not very good at making non-Christopher Nolan related superhero movies but Warner Pictures Television is on a current 11-year run of success with D.C. characters in live-action television (10 years of Smallville, 1 of Arrow). Beyond Smallville and Arrow, there has been the long in-development Wonder Woman-in-high-school project called Amazon, and now that’s on hold but Flash is full speed ahead.
That they would pick the Barry Allen version of the character likely speaks to a cross-platform synergy strategy. Allen was just recently added back into the comics, and he is the central character of the newly released Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox, the animated film adaptation of the “Flashpoint” story-line. He was also featured as the current version of The Flash on the animated show Young Justice. Plus, he is the one most popularly thought of in connection to The Flash just as Hal Jordan probably is to Green Lantern, even though there have been others to wear the suit and bear the name in both cases.
The addition of Allen to the cast, albeit in a recurring fashion, of Arrow follows hot on the heels of the Comic-Con announcement of 4 new D.C. characters: Isabel Rochev, Brother Blood, Bronze Tiger, and an early, non-Dinah/Laurel Drake version of Black Widow. The producers had indicated there would be more, and for all we know there could still be yet more in waiting behind Barry “The Flash” Allen. There’s always talk of Ted “Blue Bettle” Kord.
However, how do you add a character whose defining characteristic is his superpower into a show which has been pretty ironclad so far in its anti-superpower stance? The obvious answer would most likely be that they are not introducing The Flash on Arrow but instead Barry Allen. Allen is a forensics experts for the cops in the comics, which if kept the same could make for a logical method of integration into the Arrow universe considering Oliver’s continual interactions with cops. There would likely be small hints at his future superhero identity, ala Laurel Lance displaying her fighting skills or Thea referencing her “wicked aim,” but he could mostly be a lab geek alongside Felicity’s computer geek on Team Arrow. His super-powered transformation could come in the pilot of his own show. However, that would still connect the show’s two universes and mean that Arrow exists in a universe in which superpowers exist, which doesn’t quite fit with the approach of the show to date.
So,Barry Allen will be a character on a TV show this upcoming season. However, this does not mean the Flash TV show will end up actually happening. What if fans hate the character on Arrow? Or the pilot they shoot is horrible, and the CW decides to pass on the project? Also, what does this mean for the potential for a standalone Flash film? Could Warner Bros. be toying with the notion that fans have been clamoring for – introducing the D.C. characters via TV shows and then springboarding from there into a feature-length Justice League film (the “Stephen Amell’s Oliver Queen should be in the Justice League film” faction would sure love that)?
What do you make of this news? Excited? Worried? Sad? Still laughing at remembrances of the truly abysmal 1990/191 TV show ? Or just worried that Barry Allen will say “back in a flash” far too often? If so, check out the below video from season 2 of Young Justice, and after that take a moment to leave a comment.