With Batman and Superman proving they’re still box office draws – in The Dark Knight Trilogy and Man of Steel, respectively – Warner Bros.’ vision for a Justice League universe is seeming more possible than ever. But what about heroes who are less bankable? For starters, The Flash?
Marvel proved that comic book characters who may lack in mass appeal can be successful if adapted properly, and if nothing else, we’d say that the ‘Scarlet Speedster’ a.k.a. Barry Allen would be more easily accepted than Aquaman. Here are just 5 reasons The Flash could be THE next big DC/WB movie franchise.
Besides making fans happy, we think The Flash could offer comic book fans a movie unlike any before – and the heart of any potential Justice League team-up…
DC superheroes are nothing if not troubled, and while Wally West may be most familiar to fans thanks to WB’s animated Justice League, his mentor Barry Allen had his life was shattered before Wally was ever born – at least, it was in Geoff Johns’ Flash: Rebirth reboot (2009).
When his mother was found murdered in his childhood home, Barry’s father was wrongfully convicted of the act and imprisoned. In an effort to save his father, Barry dedicated his life to criminal forensics; determined to advance the science of catching killers, and the integrity of police work.
Allen’s life changed forever when bathed in chemicals and struck by lightning, granting him super-speed. The cause of his powers may need to be updated, but a hero fast enough to save any life from ruin – except his own – would be right at home in WB’s budding universe.
Beyond casting The Flash himself, his ‘Rogues Gallery’ and extended ‘Flash Family’ is larger than almost any other DC character; as such, the amount of casting depends largely on the studio’s long-term plans for the character. It’s likely the first film will be limited to Barry and his love interest Iris West to start with, but even so, a proper villain will be needed.
The most obvious answer is The Flash’s arch-nemesis (and aptly-named) Reverse-Flash, but a villain who plays such a pivotal role in the larger mythology may be saved for later. That still leaves the likes of Captain Cold, Captain Boomerang, Heat Wave, Trickster, Pied Piper and others – all offbeat (and deadly) antagonists that could make up an imposing ensemble cast.
An odd mix of humor and depravity defines the Rogues Gallery, meaning more glimpses into the twisted mind of the super-criminal community.
To be clear, we’re not talking about Central City, Missouri – the urban center that would act as the backdrop for Barry’s police career, previously rumored to be ‘more Se7en than superhero.‘ To explain Barry’s powers means explaining their source: in short, an alternate dimension of the universe dubbed ‘the Speed Force.’
Over the years, the Speed Force has been described as an imperceptible ‘4th dimension’ (think dark energy), or even a fully-realized world that only speedsters can travel to. Since audiences will need to get on board with Barry’s powers for the film to work – and need some serious spectacle to qualify the film as a blockbuster – picking a well-developed and scientifically sound interpretation of the Speed Force will be key.
If the Flash movie can tackle that world and be a moody crime thriller all at the same time, it could walk the line between both Man of Steel and The Dark Knight.
At this point, it’s hard to surprise anyone with the idea of a hero moving at superhuman speeds. Man of Steel showed the feat performed by heroes and villains alike, Smallville featured Clark Kent as ‘the Blur’ for multiple seasons, and most Marvel superhero movies have also included it in one way or another.
But The Flash’s increased speed, perception, and even thought process mean that a majority of the film’s action will take place at super-speed. Settling on a mere blur swiping across a scene or slow-mo backgrounds and a normal-speed Flash won’t cut it: the filmmakers will need to do something genuinely new (and expensive) to keep fans engaged.
If audience members can experience super-speed in a new way, the bar will be raised for every hero that can do the same; not to mention the mind-bending visuals of Barry’s speed warping the fabric of space-time itself.
Now that Man of Steel has opened the door for a Justice League universe, the hurdle most often addressed by skeptics is the sudden surge of similar heroes across the globe. However, given Barry Allen’s particular skills, it’s entirely possible that he has been protecting the citizens of Central City and beyond without them ever being aware of it; only embracing a public persona and eye-catching uniform upon seeing Superman do the same.
Besides answering continuity questions from a chronological standpoint, that approach also allows The Flash to share thematic elements with the last son of Krypton – embracing a call to protect without fearing what those around you might suspect. In addition, Central City’s acceptance of The Flash (founding a museum and holding parades in his honor) contrasts the paranoia and suspicions Superman deals with on a regular basis.
Of course, the biggest challenge of a Justice League film is explaining why the heroes would ever group together in the first place. With Barry’s loss of his parents leading to a decades-long friendship with Bruce Wayne, and his strong moral compass and middle-America upbringing making him a trusted confidant of Superman’s, the three justify a team-up film all on their own. From combat to character, it makes more sense for them to work together than apart.
Below you’ll find a quick recap of why we believe a Flash movie could be the next successful superhero blockbuster for DC Comics and Warner Bros. Do you agree? Let us know in the comments!
- The Story – Barry’s story of loss and mission is one that never tires.
- The Characters – Twisted villains (both super and not) are a tried and true ensemble cast.
- The Setting – A strong dose of sci-fi that opens doors for the series.
- The Technology – A chance to see a new take on super-speed, with the audience in the driver’s seat.
- Continuity – Establish the League as one built on respect and friendship, not a strike-team.
Follow Andrew on Twitter @andrew_dyce.
All artwork property of DC Comics.