One of the most anticipated new shows of the fall finally premiered last night, and it did not disappoint. The Flash has been on the NOC radar ever since Grant Gustin did a multi-episode arc last season on Arrow. More than that, I’ve been super psyched for this show and thought some of the initial casting choices potentially made The Flash the most diverse live action superhero adaptation in history.
Well, after having watched the pilot, I can safely say that The Flash works for all of the reasons that I think Gotham doesn’t. Namely, these writers get it. The Flash not only revels in the joy of being a superhero, it respects the source material in a way usually unseen in DC’s approach to live action.
But you don’t have to take my word for it. Mark Waid agrees!
My review of the Flash pilot at an appropriate, lightning-fast speed: This.
My review in a little more detail: This is how you do right by a superhero.
Granted, I’ve never been one of those fans who demanded from comic book adaptations slavish devotion to the source material. For me, as long as the essence of the characters remained intact, I was down for whatever. As a dyed-in-the-wool Smallville fanboy for ten seasons, I endured my share of criticism for liking a property that “bastardized” the mythology — whatever that means. Still, even the showrunners on that show took eight seasons before they really started to embrace the trappings of superhero storytelling.
One thing The Flash gets — out of the starting blocks — is that it’s going to be an unabashed superhero tale. And embrace all of the tropes that comes with that: the obligatory origin sequence, the law enforcement mentor, the quirky team of supporting characters, the unrequited would-be romantic interest, and the supervillain showdown. It’s all there. And it’s all awesome.
They even do the superhero tropes better than other superhero shows.
One of the best sequences, by far, is when Barry first comes into his superpowers. Not only were the special effects on point, but the joy, wonder, and excitement on Grant Gustin’s face sold the whole thing for me. We need more of that in live action DC.
Since the movie division has seemingly embraced grimdark as its raison d’être — while Gotham splits the cognitively dissonant difference between grim and campy — it seems that only the shows on The CW have figured out the Marvel Studios formula of how to do serious without grim and fun without camp. Also like the Marvel approach, The Flash and Arrow aren’t afraid to cross the streams and acknowledge a larger universe either.
The major benefit of The Flash being spun out of Arrow is that for the first time since Smallville went off the air, you really get a sense of an entire universe of DC heroes populating the screen (not for nothing but Smallville was also the last time you saw live action versions of Green Arrow and Flash on screen together).
I won’t front. The rooftop scene between Barry and Ollie just made my bitter, fanboy heart grow about ten sizes. For the first time in a long time, you got to see a superhero be inspiring and moving. And I dropped a few nerd tears when Ollie saw Barry speed off and remark, “Cool!” with simultaneous pride and amazement.
Plus, the show dropped so many easter eggs in the Pilot, you’d think it was spring already! My favorite, though, is not really an easter egg so much as it’s a nod to the original Flash series from 1990.
Having John Wesley Shipp play Barry’s father is the best stunt casting since Christopher Reeve’s turn as Clark’s mentor on Smallville. I know I keep bringing up the Superman origin story, but I haven’t liked a superhero show this much since that one went off the air!
And though I gave the show some grief a few months back when photos of Gustin in costume were leaked, I will admit the suit looked fine in action. I would still prefer a brighter red (and some white inside the lightning insignia) but that’s just superficial. The guy they got inside the suit more than makes up for it. This is the definitive Flash for our time.
And besides, we’ll be getting the traditional suit in about ten years anyway: