Something is about to happen which hasn’t happened in a very long time: we are going to see a live action version of Barry Allen. Although an active participant in many of DC’s recent animated offerings, there hasn’t been a live-action version of Barry Allen since the 1997 TV movie Justice League, and the short-lived Flash TV show before that in 1990/1991. That changes tomorrow night when Grant Gustin will make his premiere as Barry Allen in the first part of Arrow‘s two-part mid-season finale. Yes, The Flash is too high profile a character to be wasted on a TV show, better served instead by a big budget summer blockbuster movie. Yes, Gustin does not really resemble Barry Allen from the comics, and playing Barry Allen is a completely different story from the regrettably one-note jerks he played on Glee and 90210. Yes, we’re just getting Barry Allen and not The Flash at this point, but when we do get The Flash the introduction of superpowers could mean the ruin of the grounded in reality Arrow. But forget all of that: we are this close to a Flash TV show. That’s pretty cool.
The producers of Arrow and its planned Flash spin-off sure hope we think its cool. Hoping to get the hype machine going, they screened the mid-season finale for critics after which Arrow executive producers Andrew Kreisberg and Greg Berlanti, writer/DC Comics Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns and Grant Gustin were made available to answer questions. We already knew the basics, which is that Oliver Queen and Barry Allen will work together to solve an unexplained robbery in Starling City which is similar to a case in Central City, i.e., Allen’s home. Allen will only be around for the next two episodes, and although he was set to return for a back-door pilot later in the season the CW has canceled those plans, instead ordering a traditional pilot for a proper full Flash TV show with a bigger budget. However, there are some other things the producers want us to know. As per TVLine.com [there are light spoilers ahead]:
OLIVER IS ALL BROODING AND SHADOWS WHILE BARRY ALLEN IS AWKWARD SMILES AND GENUINE NICENESS | According to Kreisberg, “[Barry]’s the opposite of Oliver in a lot of ways — outgoing and funny, a little bit unsure of himself and smart.” The physical contrast, too, between the square-jawed vigilante and Gustin’s lanky, youthful alter ego is “both comical and fun.” Gustin was the first person to read for the role, and he “immediately thought [Barry] was funny and endearing, and I hadn’t done anything like that. He’s fun to play. He’s likable. I would be his friend. I haven’t had the opportunity to play a character that I would actually enjoy spending time with.” So, wait, he wouldn’t want to spend time with Sebastian from Glee, perhaps for fear of having a slushie thrown in his face and damaging his eye?
THERE WILL BE MAJOR SPARKAGE BETWEEN BARRY ALLEN AND FELICITY SMOAK | In trying to figure out a way to introduce Barry into Arrow‘s world, the writers spent a lot of time “talking about Oliver and Felicity and their growing … feelings for each other,” Kreisberg revealed. “[Because] Barry and Felicity are so similar — they’re both a bit uncomfortable in their own skins and very likable and personable — it just seemed like they would instantly hit it off, which would just complicate things for Oliver even more. It felt like the right way to go.” This connection between Barry and Felicity was so central to the writers plans that Grant Gustin actually had to audition with Emily Bett Rickards to establish whether or not the two had any chemistry. Berlanti joked: “We wanted to make sure he didn’t seem like jailbait next to her.”
THIS IS A VERY YOUNG VERSION OF BARRY ALLEN | There is a definite reason Gustin’s biggest claim to fame thus far has been playing a high school-aged character on Glee: although he’s 23-years-old, he could still pass as a believable teenager. This, as it turns out, was perfect for how the writers had conceived of Barry Allen, “We’d always seen [Barry] as being a little bit younger,” allowing for a few playful jabs at the scientist’s expense to address the elephant in the room, said Kreisberg. Not being super-confident and strong, Barry “needs the bolt of lightning to be a hero in a way [Oliver] doesn’t need the bolt of lightning.” Added Johns: “[Oliver] needs the heart, Barry has the heart. [Oliver] has the body, Barry needs the body.” So, the age difference between the 23-year-old Grant Gustin and 32-year-old Stephen Amell will not go unmentioned.
WE WON’T SEE HIM BUT WILL STILL HEAR ABOUT ALLEN BEYOND THE NEXT TWO EPISODES | Now that The Flash is getting its own pilot rather than a backdoor one, “Episode 20 will just be an episode of Arrow” — which has actually turned out to be a blessing, Kreisberg admitted. “[A backdoor pilot] actually made it a little bit harder because we were going to have to take a right turn [from] where we were in our ongoing story to incorporate that.” Vampire Diaries struggled with that last season, as its backdoor pilot for The Originals did temporarily halt the progress of the larger story arc of the season. Although Barry may no longer be getting his own episode toward the end of the season, viewers will still hear “about what happened to him in the way that you’re hearing now about Star Labs on the periphery, and certainly in terms of Felicity since she has a connection with him,” revealed Berlanti.
THE FLASH PILOT WILL BE HEAVY IN DC LORE | “We’re using a lot of mythology and characters from the comics in the development of The Flash,” said Johns. For one, the tortured backstory for the character in the comics will play a big role in the pilot. “To use how he reimagined the character’s origin and to have it be so emotional and to now actually be able to render that in pilot form has been terrific,” Berlanti raved. “In success, hopefully, with The Flash, there’s a way to bring on some of the more fantastical characters that will probably still go through the grounding lens with which we view everything [on Arrow],” said Kreisberg, adding that “there’s a hint of a major character in the [Flash] pilot,” but he warned that it could be cut.
So, for the first time in their history Oliver Queen won’t be the center of Felicity’s lustful gaze due to the presence of Barry Allen. Oliver may not care for this change, though his recent jerk-like (although honest) turn toward only getting involved with women he doesn’t actually care about may prevent him from actually doing anything about it.
As momentous as this all seems, Barry Allen is not the Flash yet. He is not a superhero nor do we even know if he will gain his superpowers in Arrow or in the pilot of his own show. Ignore the comic book canon, and it sure seems like Allen on Arrow will just be your standard TV character inserted in-between a potential romantic couple (Oliver/Felicity) to prolong the will they/won’t they dance, especially since we know that Barry is earmarked for his own show with his own set of characters and Felicity’s not going anywhere. Those who criticize the DC TV shows as submitting beloved comic book characters to standard CW-anguished romance and love triangles will certainly have much to complain about here. But Felicity is about to get her first honest-to-goodness love interest – this is going to be a new look for her. If fans respond to Felicity and Barry who knows where the producers might run with it, although it’s hard to imagine much of a future unless Felicity becomes a character who regularly crosses over between Arrow and Flash.
Via ArrowFan1, check out this clip promoting tomorrow’s episode:
Are you now sufficiently hyped for Barry Allen’s first episode of Arrow tomorrow night? Let us know what you think in the comments section.
- The CW & WB Think Grant Gustin Can Carry His Own Show – We’re Not So Sure (weminoredinfilm.com)