The Flash returns to our screens this week, as Barry Allen and his team works to try and save Iris (Candice Patton) and take on Savitar (Andre Tricoteux). It looks like it’s going to be an intense spring season for the rest of the Arrowverse, too, with the Legion of Doom in the picture and plenty of other threats on the horizon to keep our heroes busy.
We’re also looking forward to the 2017 return of one of the fans’ favorite Flash villains – Gorilla Grodd! This enormous, telepathic ape first appeared in season one, and comic fans absolutely loved seeing such a wacky comic book villain make an appearance in live-action. Since then, he’s re-appeared in season two, and although he has been mentioned in season three, we last saw Grodd in an Earth-2 jungle, a sanctuary for apes like himself. We don’t yet know how Grodd will make his way back to Earth-1, or what’s going to happen when he does (could the Legion have something to do with it?), but we’re excited to see him back for a third season however it happens.
In honor of this brainy, evil, ape, we’ve put together 15 things that you might not have known about Grodd – his history, his friends, and even his crazy inventions.
15. He’s Is One Of The Flash’s Punniest Foes
There’s just something about a giant, telepathic ape that makes people crack jokes…understandably enough! One of Gorilla Grodd’s major episodes in The Flash even borrows one of the more common comic book puns. In “Gorilla Warfare”, Grodd kidnaps Caitlin Snow (Danielle Panabaker) in an attempt to create others like him (this is also the episode where Grodd is sent to Earth-2). The title is an obvious play on ‘guerilla warfare’, and it’s far from the first time that this particular joke has been made.
There have been multiple “Gorilla Warfare” story arcs in the comics – it’s just too easy a joke to make! There has also been an event titled ‘JLApe’, when the citizens of Gorilla City turn the Justice League into ape versions of themselves. Plenty of other ape movie references have also appeared in both the comics and the show. In The Flash, both Planet of the Apes and King Kong have been referenced in Grodd episodes.
14. His Creator Also Thought Up Detective Chimp, Captain Boomerang, and Kid Flash
Gorilla Grodd was created by John Broome (also credited as John Osgood and Edgar Ray Merrit), a DC Comics writer whose career spans decades. In the ’40s, Broome wrote for Green Lantern and Justice Society of America comics, and created the supervillain Per Degaton – a time traveler and member of the Time Stealers. During the Silver Age, Broome moved over to write primarily for The Flash, although he continued writing Green Lantern and other stories as well. He continued to create well-known DC supervillains, including Captain Boomerang and Abra Kadabra.
In The Flash mythos, Broome added one of the biggest Flash nemeses: Zoom. He didn’t leave Barry alone to face Zoom, though, as he also introduced Kid Flash to the pages of DC. In addition to all of these supervillains and Flash characters, Broome even created another monkey-based character (okay, we know that gorillas aren’t monkeys!), when he brought Detective Chimp to life. As an ape, and a Flash villain, Grodd could even be considered the combination of Broome’s favorite characters.
13. Grodd Has Multiple Origin Stories
Like many long-running comic book characters, Grodd has had a few different origin stories over the years. Originally, Grodd and the other super-intelligent ape denizens of Gorilla City were created by a crashed alien ship. The rays from the ship, which crashed in the African jungle, transformed the apes in the area into super-intelligent beings, and the alien on board gave some of the gorillas special abilities – telepathy and telekinesis.
This isolated society grew under the rule of the benevolent King Solovar, while Gorilla Grodd grew to become his greatest opponent, eventually leaving Gorilla City to attempt to take over the human world. Later, this alien story was retconned, and it became a meteor that gave the gorillas their powers and created Gorilla City. In the New 52, this origin was changed yet again, and a very Flash-worthy lightning bolt/Speed Force situation was the cause of the gorillas’ powers.
As much as his origin has changed, Grodd’s character has slowly altered as well. Initially, he was a far more comedic villain, whereas he has now fully evolved into his power and violence to become a truly terrifying foe.
12. The Arrowverse Got Rid Of Gorilla City (Or Did They?)
Speaking of Gorilla City, it was noticeably absent from the TV version of Grodd’s origin story (as were meteorites, aliens, and lightning bolts). In The Flash, Grodd’s super-intelligence was the result of human experimentation, as Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh) and General Eiling (Clancy Brown) studied gene therapy and the possibility of using it to enhance animals. The two had some differences of opinion about how these experiments should happen (with Eiling being very much in favor of torture, rather than gentle science), so Wells shut the experiments down, but kept Grodd in the lab.
When the particle accelerator exploded, it was this that caused the dormant experimental genes to activate, giving Grodd his unique abilities. For fans of Gorilla City, this was a huge disappointment. We wanted to see a society of super-intelligent apes, not a one-off baddie created by accident. Luckily, Grodd’s arrival on Earth-2 saw him discover a city created for enhanced apes like himself – a version of Gorilla City for the live action Arrowverse, albeit one without any magic meteorites in sight.
11. The Flash’s Speed Keeps Him Safe From Mind Control
Gorilla Grodd has some impressive powers. He is super-strong, powerful, physically huge, and mentally formidable. He has a genius level intellect, comes from a technologically advanced civilization, and creates advanced tech easily. But his best-known power is his ‘force of mind’ – telepathy and telekinesis, extending to mind control and even psionic blasts.
The Flash, however, was originally immune to these powers (luckily enough), and it all came down to his speed. When Gorilla Grodd was first introduced (The Flash #106), he came to Central City to hunt down Solovar, who had been captured and was being kept in the Central City zoo. Grodd and Flash end up duking it out for the first time, and here we learn that the Scarlet Speedster can literally run faster than Grodd can think (or send thought waves). He therefore remains immune to the force of mind, and can defeat the giant gorilla. This isn’t always the case, of course, but once again, Flash’s speed wins the day!
10. Grodd Paralyzed Hunter Zoloman And Created Zoom
Yup, at one time, Grodd snapped the spine of the Flash’s arch-nemesis. He wasn’t trying to be helpful, though. He and The Fastest Man Alive are still, as usual, at odds. In fact, Hunter Zoloman wasn’t even Zoom at the time, but a criminal profiler in Keystone City, where the Flash was Wally West. The two became friends, and helped each other on cases.
This friendship was Zoloman’s undoing, in the end. When Gorilla Grodd broke out of Iron Heights, he scanned Wally’s mind to discover who he cared about. Finding Zolomon’s name, he sent a gorilla out to attack him, leaving him with a broken back and confined to a wheelchair. He begged his speedy friend to use the cosmic treadmill to turn back time and save him, but Wally refused, unwilling to risk the timeline. In a rage, Zoloman tried to use the treadmill himself, causing an explosion that gave him his powers – and the motivation to become Zoom.
9. The Flash Isn’t The Only Hero To Defeat Grodd
Grodd is, of course, primarily a villain for the Flash. However, the Scarlet Speedster is far from the only hero to beat Grodd in his long comic history. Grodd routinely battles Solovar for the rule of Gorilla City, which is how he came to be in Central City (and meet the Flash) in the first place. Unfortunately, the Flash is all too happy to help Solovar, so Grodd rarely wins that battle.
Solovar isn’t the only gorilla to win a fight with Grodd, either. In his early days, Grodd once transferred his consciousness into another gorilla’s body, and he promptly gets taken down when the gorilla’s mate gets jealous! Another animal hero has also managed to take Grodd down – Rex the Wonder Dog. In another team up, Rex and Wally battled Grodd and Green Lantern baddie, Hector Hammond.
Some heavy hitters from the ranks of more human characters have also beaten (or nearly beaten) Grodd over the years, including the Joker, who tossed him off a cliff during the events of Salvation Run.
8. Detective Chimp Teamed Up With The Flash To Fight Him
When it comes to DC’s ape characters, it only makes sense to let these two go head to head for the readers! Detective Chimp, for those who aren’t aware, is exactly what he sounds like: he’s a chimp who has super intelligence and uses it to solve crimes. He can also talk to any living creature and doesn’t age, thanks to a dip in the Fountain of Youth.
In a storyline that also saw an appearance from Rex The Wonder Dog, Wally and his animal friends (and Hal Jordon) teamed up to take on Grodd and Hector Hammond. Seeing Detective Chimp square off against Grodd is a fantastic match up, as super-intelligent ape takes on super-intelligent ape, and although it’s highly unlikely that we’ll be seeing DC appear on The Flash anytime soon, if a Green Lantern should appear somewhere, this is a storyline and a team up that we’d love to see on the small screen!
7. He’s Become Human
Although Grodd has not transformed into a human in the traditional sense, he has managed to transfer his consciousness into a human body. We already mentioned that he has once moved his mind into the body of another gorilla (and then managed to incur the wrath of that gorilla’s wife), but over the years, he has proven himself able to do this with many other living creatures.
Back in the Silver Age, Grodd created a pill (out of the Earth at his feet!) that would effectively kill him and transfer his consciousness into another animal. This gives him the body of a circus worker named William Dawson, which also gives him access to other apes that he uses for petty crimes. Of course, the Flash still defeats him in human form, and he heads to prison – after we learn that his ‘gorilla characteristics’ are starting to come back, suggesting that the gorilla will eventually take over the man. In later comics, he has managed to transfer his mind again, sometimes on purpose, sometimes with inventions, and sometimes without meaning to at all.
6. He Ran For President
Well, if Lex Luthor can take office, who knows what else could happen in DC Comics? In one phenomenally off-the-wall storyline, this enormous, telepathic, and African-born gorilla very nearly became the President of the United States, and it was all thanks to a girl. Queen Boka, Solovar’s wife, becomes the object of Grodd’s affections in this tale, and she’s not too enthusiastic about it. In response, Grodd (rather than taking the hint and going away), builds a machine to make her like him, and it works a little too well. Not only does the machine make Boka love Grodd, but he learns that it can make everyone else like him too.
He takes his ape brethren and heads to Central City, where he runs for governor (and wins), intending to then run for President (which was a little unnecessary, but DC needed to get the Flash involved somehow, and a new Central City governor seems like the perfect way!). No prizes for guessing that The Fastest Man Alive foils his plans, but he’s still the only African gorilla to become an elected official, so there’s that.
5. Grodd Can Control Dreams
In addition to all the usual powers of telepathy, telekinesis, and a genius intellect, (and the occasional jaunt into someone else’s body!), Grodd has also been able to control others’ dreams in the past. In The Flash #295, Grodd manages to wipe himself from everyone’s memory (along with the memory of Gorilla City, which causes some confusion at their embassy!) using something called Operation Worldwash. The Flash and Solovar, meanwhile, begin to have vivid dreams that they are battling each other. We quickly learn that DC’s speediest hero and Solovar aren’t battling each other, they are fighting Grodd, and he is using the dream forms of each hero to disguise himself and confuse them.
As always, Flash figures it out and puts a stop to things, and this isn’t a power that we see Grodd using very often, but he theoretically may still have this particularly disturbing dream-control powers. Interestingly, this story also showed us that the Flash dreams in super-speed.
4. When He Gets Violent, He Gets Very, Very Violent
More recent incarnations of Gorilla Grodd have taken full advantage of the gorilla’s size, strength, and animalistic brutality in a way that his earliest appearances definitely did not. While early Grodd was a genius in an ape’s body, the new Grodd is very much an ape with a genius mind, and he’s not afraid to show just how violent he can be.
In The Flash #13, Grodd decides to invade Central City with an army of gorillas, and with the Justice League out of commission thanks to the Injustice League (for the moment, anyway!), Grodd and his apes go up against the Rogues, who are trying to protect the city. The Trickster, meanwhile, tries to sweet talk Grodd into working with him…a very bad idea. Unimpressed, Grodd rips the Trickster’s arm off entirely (we’d pay to see this on the small screen), before continuing his takeover attempt. Within the same general story arc, he also decapitates Rainbow Raider (aka Chroma) and sticks his head on a pike.
3. He Teamed Up With The Legion Of Doom
Speaking of things we would like to see on the small screen, Gorilla Grodd has been involved with the Legion of Doom in the past – and that may well be the key to his return in the Arrowverse. We’ve seen the Legion of Doom starting to wreak havoc with the Legends, and we know that they’ll be causing some real chaos when Legends of Tomorrow returns this week, but could Eobard and his villainous friends be looking for some muscle in the jungles of Earth-2?
In the DC universe, Grodd appeared in the first incarnation of the Legion on the animated series The Challenge Of The Superfriends (in the 1970s), where the Legion helped Grodd in his latest attempt to wrest control of Gorilla City from King Solovar. He’s been a regular member of the Legion since then, and has also teamed up with Vandal Savage, who also appeared as the villain of Legends of Tomorrow season one (played by Casper Crump). It seems like he’s a perfect fit for the Arrowverse incarnation of the evil Legion, and we’d love to see him return as such.
2. The Flash Mo-Cap Actor Is A Superhero Regular…
Bringing Grodd to life on the small screen is no easy feat. He’s a giant, vicious ape who fights a speedster, folks. But the creative team behind the Arrowverse is more than capable of taking on this challenge – after all, they managed King Shark! Gorilla Grodd is brought to life by two actors, one who deals with the physical movement with mo-cap and stunts, and another who is responsible for that gloriously frightening voice.
Simon Burnett is the man behind the physical portrayal of Grodd, and he’s definitely become a regular in superhero adaptations. Within the Arrowverse, he is Stephen Amell’s stunt double (so we probably won’t be seeing Grodd vs Green Arrow anytime soon), but he’s also appeared in a brief cameo as Tim Kaufman on the show. Outside the Arrowverse, Burnett has worked on a huge number of superhero movies and series (all filmed in Vancouver), including X-Men, Deadpool, Smallville, and Blade: Trinity.
1. …And So Is The Flash Voice Actor
The second half of Grodd (and the one who gets the official credit) is voice actor David Sobolov. The 52-year-old is also an old hand in the superhero game, as he also voices Drax in the Marvel animated universe, Stone in Daredevil, Lobo in Young Justice, Cron on Teen Titans and Lord Tyger in Spider-Man Unlimited.
In addition to his many comic book credits, fans might also recognize Sobolov’s voice from video games, other animation projects, and even blockbuster movies. He voiced Shockwave in Transformers Prime, some of the Reavers in Serenity, and he provided various additional voices on Star Trek: Into Darkness. He’s also been involved in several video game franchises, such as Star Wars, Call of Duty, World of Warcraft, Final Fantasy, Diablo, and Elder Scrolls Online. He’s definitely someone that can embody the aggression of Grodd, and it’s certainly helped by his vast experience in sci-fi and fantasy. This is one of those voice actors that you’ve surely heard before, and we can’t wait to hear more of his work when Grodd returns to The Flash later this season!
Do you know of any other fun facts about Gorilla Grodd? Are you looking forward to his return in season 3? Let us know in the comments.