It shouldn’t come as a surprise that when DC Comics decided to introduce a super-intelligent gorilla to their universe, they didn’t hold back on wacky plotlines or powers. But ever since he first graced the pages of The Flash, the telepathic behemoth known as Gorilla Grodd has been a fan-favorite opponent of the scarlet speedster. And as his ambitions grew, so did the fans’ affection.
Now The CW’s own Flash series has guaranteed that Grodd will have fans from an entirely new generation, who now know the ape as the product of scientific testing and dark-matter-side-effects. But as outlandish or ridiculous as a man with superspeed battling a psychic gorilla might seem, fans of the show have no idea just how absurd or entertaining the villain’s past truly is.
That’s something we intend to remedy, so we hope you enjoy (and forever remember) these 10 Gorilla Grodd Facts Flash Fans Should Know.
Grodd Got His Powers From The Same Place as a Major Green Lantern Villain
The villain Hector Hammond may have had his reputation seriously tarnished by the version seen in the ill-fated Green Lantern (2011), but in the comics, the large-headed psychic juggernaut has proven a lasting foe (and an exceptionally creepy one). When a strange meteorite crashed into Earth near Hammond, he noticed that its alien radiation caused life around it to rapidly evolve. Seeing the potential, he used the meteorite to eventually evolve himself, causing his brain to explode in size, granting him telepathic and telekinetic powers while his body withered.
When Gorilla Grodd made his debut in The Flash #106 (1959), it was a piece of that same meteorite that caused their own evolution, gifting some with telepathic abilities of their own. The origin story would later be retconned (like most other DC Comics characters), but the shared origins led to a team-up of the villains in the crossover story “Gorilla Warfare” (1992), also the name of the episode of The Flash in which Grodd makes his second appearance.
His Origin Was Changed To The Disciple of an Alien Visitor
Aside from one origin story which claims Grodd and his fellow intelligent apes were relocated to Earth from another planet, the later origin story made the source of his powers completely alien in nature. As in, a small pink alien crash landed in its spaceship on Earth, forever changing the nature of the gorillas who stumbled upon the crash site. It’s hard to know if Grodd was evil even before the event, but when both he and a rival gorilla named Solovar were given telepathic abilities along with their smarts, the two were permanently established as opposite ends of the moral spectrum.
The alien would lead the gorillas to build a city for themselves, spending a decade being ruled as something of a god-king by the apes. But the alien could sense one of its followers was plotting, looking to kill the ruler, take its place as king, and in the process, remove the technology keeping their home a secret to the world. Grodd was revealed to be the culprit, mind-controlling the alien’s would-be savior into killing it.
He Comes From Gorilla City
Just so we’re clear, the alien whose technology imbued Grodd and his fellow apes with super-intelligence didn’t direct them to build a home out of stone hovels or straw huts, but a civilization worthy of their advanced evolution. Before long, the apes showed that they were far, far smarter than humans, building a veritable city of the future under a protective aura that kept man from sticking his nose into their business. Once the aura dropped, that changed forever, but the city’s relationship with the outside world has changed over the years.
Depending on who was in charge – Solovar, Grodd, or any of their allies – Gorilla City has gone from being a protectionist, isolationist city-state to a player on the world stage. Gorilla City even petitioned to join the United Nations… before a bomb plot sabotaged the entire thing. Whatever its links to the world beyond its borders, Gorilla City remains a refuge for smart apes. It was even hinted at in The Flash as existing on a parallel world.
He Has Powers of Telepathy, Mind Control & Psychic Blasts
In today’s world, a hero or villain possessing “psychic powers” is understood by just about everyone. That means describing Grodd’s abilities as telepathy, mind control, telekinetic manipulation and blasts is fairly straightforward. But aside from his suped-up intelligence, different writers have tapped into his animal side to give him far more disturbing and brutal edge.
Some comic versions have shown Grodd to consume the brains of other people and creatures to fuel and advance his own intelligence, claiming to absorb the knowledge of those he eats. It’s hard to tell if it’s true or simply his delusions of grandeur talking, but suffice to say that Grodd is the all-powerful nightmare at the end of any story of telekinetic horror (think Akira, Chronicle, etc.). Not to mention the ability to completely relocate his consciousness if need be (seriously, how he hasn’t conquered the world is beyond us).
He Became a Villain of The Flash By Accident
The intelligent ape may seem a poor opponent for The Flash, since his powers have nothing to do with speed. But in the world of comic books, things don’t need to make total sense, so claiming that Barry Allen or Wally West’s brains function “too quickly for Grodd to control” is all the explanation needed. Even so, it was chance that led Grodd and The Flash together in the first place, leading to a decades-long feud.
It started when Solovar, the well-meaning, telepathic ruler of Gorilla City was captured by humans. Since he was trying to keep the existence of his home a secret, he played along, pretending to be a normal ape. When he arrived at the Central City zoo, Grodd was hot on his heels, eager to learn his powers and “force of mind” to control the residents of Gorilla City and bend them to his will. He stole the power, but The Flash was nearby to hear Solovar’s distress call, establishing a friendship that would last for years, and making himself a hero Grodd would spend his entire life trying to defeat.
He Has Become Human Multiple Times
This added power may not be entirely scientifically sound, or even adhere to the rules set out in the pages of “Flash” comics. But over the years, either by will or by accident, Grodd has shown the ability to transfer his entire consciousness into other human beings. But it isn’t simply a case of an ape’s consciousness replacing a human’s – Grodd actually becomes a human for all intents and purposes, which means his mental powers actually transmute his own form into that of the person he’s replacing.
It’s questionable at best, and readers have poked holes in the exact rules. But when Grodd managed to take over the mind of a hulking criminal, it was only when someone compared him to a gorilla that his memory returned, and he returned to his natural form. It’s not a unique power, either. Grodd’s grandson, Sam Simeon, starred in a DC Comics comedy series titled “Angel and the Ape,” where Sam would make himself appear as human in the minds of onlookers.
He Hates Humans So Much, He’s Gone Back in Time To Wipe Them Out
It really can’t be overstated just how much Grodd despises humanity. Sure, he’s eaten plenty of brains and killed thousands of innocents. But in an issue of “Son of Ambush Bug,” a comic series poking fun at the DC Universe and industry as a whole, Grodd was shown traveling to the Cretaceous Period with the intention of wiping out human existence before they ever came to be. Those who follow the teachings of evolution will spot the problem.
Grodd was so intent on snuffing humanity out before it ever existed, he was willing to end his own existence as well. A villain willing to kill themselves off just to take out their enemies is nothing new, but this one example shows even brilliant bad guys can get a little carried away. After his plan failed (or did it?), he stuck to mind-controlling the world’s villains to take down the Justice League instead.
He Tried To Run For President of The United States of America
As further evidence that comic book fiction can be as crazy as humanly possible, it was a beautiful she-gorilla who sent him on one of his silliest adventures. After longing for the wife of his rival , Solovar, Grodd developed a machine that was capable of emitting “neo-magnetic radiation.” In short, a machine that made everyone immediately like him. It worked on his romantic target, along with everyone else. So, Grodd did what any reasonable super-intelligent gorilla would do: he headed to Central City and began to run for governor.
With the adoring masses all fawning over this ape with political aspirations – including The Flash – Grodd set his sights much higher than the governor’s office, planning on using the job as a stepping stone to becoming the most-loved American President since George Washington. The Flash foiled his plans, but with Lex Luthor having held the office in DC’s continuity, it’s hard to believe Grodd would have been any worse.
He Created Zoom, The Second Reverse-Flash
For every Flash, there’s a Reverse-Flash to challenge him and torment him to his breaking point. Where Barry Allen had Eobard Thawne, a somewhat crazed speedster from the future, Wally West had a far more tragic and personal nemesis. As it happens, Gorilla Grodd became a bit more terrifying than his zany, brain-blast-shooting version when doing battle with West, Allen’s successor. That included taking shots at West’s friends.
Hunter Zolomon was the most unlucky, with Grodd breaking his back in two during one of his rampages. With Zolomon confined to a wheelchair as a result, he begged Wally to travel back in time and save him. Wally refused, which ended their friendship, and sent Zolomon to attempt the feat himself using Wally’s Cosmic Treadmill. Disaster occurred, severing him from the timestream. Taking the name of ‘Zoom’ after the previous Flash’s tormenter, Zolomon was consumed by revenge and hatred… thanks a lot, Grodd.
In An Alternate Future, He Took Over All of Africa
When Barry Allen traveled back in time to finally prevent his mother’s murder at the hands of Eobard Thawne, he created the “Flashpoint” universe – a clear demonstration of why even the most well-meaning changes to the past can have disastrous consequences. With Wonder Woman leading the Amazons into a world war with Aquaman and Atlantis, Barry eventually realized things were better of as they were, and righted things the best he could (giving birth to the New 52 univers as a result).
But lost in the spectacle of the Amazon/Atlantis war is that Grodd also succeeded in taking over Gorilla City in this alternate future, and the entire continent of Africa along with it. The publishers apparently knew that would be the case, and had Grodd every bit as unimpressed with being overlooked in the actual comics. By the end, Grodd was even leaving survivors he hoped would one day put up a fight, having gotten his wish, and realizing having no one to fight was just plain boring. And that, quite simply, is why the fans love him.
We hope our list has shown why Gorilla Grodd remains a top-tier villain despite a wacky origin story and power set, and believe us, this is only the beginning of Grodd’s insane comic book history. Hopefully The Flash can tackle more of it in the years to come.
Catch new episodes of The Flash every Tuesday @8pm on The CW.