He's The Fastest Man Alive. The Scarlet Speedster. He's one of the most iconic DC Comics characters, and the star of one of the most popular television series. So why is The Flash so beloved?
Admittedly he's got a super cool costume, a witty and engaging personality, and he's full of heroic traits. Another important part of his appeal is his unique physique that which he uses to keep Central City safe.
Most Flash fans are familiar with his basic abilities, which are powered by the Speed Force, an extra-dimensional energy that not only fuels his super-speed, but also allows him to punch with immense force, and also gives him enhanced reactions, reflexes, endurance and decelerated aging.
That's just the tip of the iceberg of his body's abilities, which we're about to delve into wholeheartedly, from the totally badass to the downright bizarre, as well as some unfortunate things that have happened to his physical form over the years.
Note: there have been many iterations of the Flash, from the original, Jay Garrick, to his successor Barry Allen, along with Wally West and Bart Allen. For simplicity's sake, we're sticking with Barry, who is the most iconic and popular of the bunch.
Here are 17 Crazy Facts About The Flash’s Body.
17 He Got His Powers Through An Accident
How did Barry Allen first gain the powers that made him The Flash? It all happened due to a freak accident. In his official 1956 DC Comics origin, Allen was a police scientist who was ironically known for his slowness.
One night during a graveyard shift, Allen was bombarded by a case of chemicals after they shattered from a lightning strike, and the combination of the chemicals' contents and high voltage, endowed him with super speed.
Allen decided to use his powers for good, as we all know, and designed that aforementioned amazing costume. Whenever he needs to fight crime, he just pops open the ring on his finger, which shoots out his suit-- and uses a special chemical to shrink it so it goes back into the ring after he’s done fighting bad guys.
16 The Speed Force Aura
Running has been proven by many medical professionals to be hard on the body. Imagine if you could run at 700 miles an hour - or if you moved so fast you could break the sound barrier. That would take quite a physical toll-- just the chafing alone could prove immensely painful. And if one were to trip? That wouldn't feel too good either. In fact it would end your life.
Think of the Flash’s body like a spacecraft upon reentry.
It has enough protectants to save it from incinerating upon impact, and Barry Allen’s body has a similar layer of defense.
It’s where another aspect of the Speed Force comes into play-- an aura that provides a protective barrier that keeps The Flash shielded from the elements, projectiles and from his own body immolating from the incredible speeds he can produce.
15 Grant Gustin's Training
Playing the title role on The Flash, requires star Grant Gustin to stay into superhero shape.
In an interview with DC Comics, Gustin said "I run a lot. I do a lot of pull ups and pushups while I’m at work. I run a lot for the job. I’m on a treadmill in front of a green-screen—harnessed. And it’s 10 to 14 hour days for me every single day. I haven’t had a camera day off yet. So that schedule keeps you in shape, too."
Gustin expanded on this in a separate interview with The Christian Science Monitor, adding that his background as a dancer has helped his performance: "I don't run like any type of athlete. I stopped doing any organized sports at 10 and started dancing. I'm athletic but in a dancer way."
14 He Can Learn At An Accelerated Rate
Not only is he quick on his feet, but Barry Allen's mind moves at a rate faster than a mere mortal. Thanks to the Speed Force, his brain processes thoughts at the speed of light.
This makes him the definition of a speed reader, and he can crunch numbers at a dizzying rate. He can even see events that last less than an attosecond (which is 1×10−18 of a second).
This all makes sense, when you think about it. If a guy is running at superhuman speeds, he needs a brain that can respond rapidly.
His lightning-fast brain makes him impervious to mind control, which comes in handy when dealing with his foe Gorilla Grodd.
It's worth noting that in Allen's case, information that he takes in quickly often leaves at the same rate, giving him an extreme case of short-term memory. However, his nephew Bart Allen, who also uses the Speed Force, can retain such new information indefinitely).
13 He Can Travel Through Time (And Potentially Change The Course Of History)
Another amazing aspect of The Flash's already impressive powers is time travel. If he runs at just the right amount of speed, he can break right through the time barrier. He can go backwards or forwards in time, depending on the situation. It's also worth noting he can use that same ability to travel to other dimensions as well!
This impressive ability has the downside that's inherently present in the concept of time travel (which has been repeatedly explored in science fiction): if he sticks around in a different era too long, any actions he takes can potentially alter the course of history.
This was the primary plot device of the Flashpoint storyline, where Barry Allen goes back in time to rescue his mother, only to return to a world he doesn't recognize, and without his speedster abilities.
12 He Can Create Vortexes
Not only can the Flash run as fast as lightning, he has another cool weapon in his arsenal, namely the ability to whip up miniature tornadoes. He can do this in a variety of ways, but is most commonly achieved by moving his arms in rapid circular motion, or by running in circles until he creates the vortex of his choosing.
This concentrated aspect of the speed force has come in very handy over the years, including an episode of the popular CW series, when he used his tornado spewing powers to counteract another tornado created by his nemesis The Weather Wizard. It's also one of the most visually dynamic aspects of the character, being featured in many iconic DC Comics' panels over the years.
11 He Can Phase Through Solid Objects
The Flash also has the power to move through solid objects. How does he do it, you may ask? By vibrating his body at such a high speed that he reaches the molecular level, which he uses to phase through any form of solid matter that he chooses.
He can do this to his whole body, or just an isolated limb - if he wanted to grab something behind a locked door for example. Not only that, but he can use his powers to phase any object though a solid or physical form as well.
Flash can also use this power of intangibility to dodge any punches or weapons that come his way. He's used his phasing abilities to dramatic effect on several occasions, including saving a plane by phasing it through a bridge.
10 He Has Accelerated Metabolism (Except The One Time He Got Fat)
If you're The Fastest Man Alive, it should make sense that your metabolism works at super speed as well, and The Flash is able to stay in tip-top shape as a result. This allows him to eat thousands of calories to day, which he needs to keep up his energy, while never stretching the waistline of his formfitting suit.
Barry Allen's ability to keep a svelte figure failed only once, after Gorilla Grodd shot him with a radiation gun that essentially turned him into a giant sponge.
To make matters worse, Grodd shot him again, this time robbing him of his intellect. He then captured Allen and displayed him as a circus freak. Eventually he gets back to fighting shape after dehydrating himself in a sauna.
9 He Can Pass The Speed Force To His Kids
When Allen was transformed by a freak accident, he became one with the Speed Force-- and it became one with him. Not only did it bless him with superhuman speed, it actually altered his DNA. That altered DNA can be passed down to future generations.
We learned about this amazing hereditary gift thanks to Bart Allen, aka Impulse.
He's Allen's grandson, and can also access the Speed Force. He received this hereditary gift from Allen's son, Don, who also has speedster powers - although not at his father's level. Don's twin sister, Dawn (that has to get confusing), also has the same ability to draw upon the Speed Force.
In other words, the family that speeds together, stays together, and i's all thanks to sharing the same genetic ability to run like the wind.
8 He Has Electrokinesis
Darkseid, the evil ruler of Apokolips, is forever in search of the Anti-Life Equation, which allows him to dominate any race of sentient beings that he wishes, and instills in his victims a sense of hopelessness, allowing for easy defeat. He gained full access to it in the pages of Final Crisis, using it to his own evil ends.
One person who was able to defeat the equation is The Flash. Why? It's yet another facet of his powers. His ability to use Electrokinesis to manipulate the electrical energy that's a by-product of the Speed Force. It's basically it's a fancy way of saying he can throw lightning bolts.
In Final Crisis #4, he did just that, using his voltage throwing powers to negate the effects of the equation on anyone who was currently under its influence.
7 He Became A Puppet
In one of the most surreal and unsettling Silver Age Flash tales, the Scarlet Speedster gets turned into a puppet by the villain Abra Kadabra.
The story revolves around Kadabra running a marionette show, using a Flash doll in an unflattering light to humiliate our hero, with a regular routine that makes light of his heroic abilities, and undermines his popularity in Central City.
The Flash grows tired of seeing his likeness being mocked every night, but when he tracks Kadabra down his lucks grows ever worse.
Kadabra turns Allen into a living puppet, and Barry has to endure demeaning torture on a nightly basis.
Of course he doesn't stay like this for long. Given that he can can control the atoms in his body, he returns to his normal form and puts Kadabra back behind bars.
6 He Can Alter His Voice
One of many highlights on the CW Flash series is seeing Barry Allen demonstrate one of his little-seen/heard abilities -- which makes sense, given sound can't be conveyed in comic books-- the power to change his voice.
This is a handy tool to help secure his secret identity.
How exactly does he he achieve that effect? By using his vibrational powers on his vocal chords, making his voice unrecognizable, even to his friends and family.
That's not the only cool trick that Barry Allen can pull off with his voice. He, like all other users of the Speed Force, have a very unique way of communicating. They can converse with each other at a rate so fast that they're completely unintelligible to the average human ear.
5 Ezra Miller's Training
Just as Grant Gustin had to physically prepare for the role of the Flash, so did Ezra Miller, who played The Fastest Man Alive in the film Justice League. Miller used a mix of yoga, kung fu and dance to beef up his body for the role, but he was surprisingly resistant to the most important aspect of the character: he didn't want to run.
“Sometimes they make me run, which I was outraged!” he told news channel Fox 5 DC. “I thought, ‘You can’t see him running, so this is going to be easy!’ No, they were like, ‘Ezra, we need you to run.'”
In addition to using CGI effects to exaggerate the character's running capabilities, Miller ran on a 25 foot treadmill, which helped make the illusion complete.
4 His Accelerated Healing Is A Mixed Blessing
Earlier we talked about how Flash's accelerated metabolism lets him eat pretty much anything he wants without gaining weight. It also allows him to quickly heal from severe injuries as well.
If the speedster was sidelined by a broken leg for too long, it could greatly endanger the citizens of Central City, and give his rogues gallery a deadly advantage.
His healing powers aren't all they're cracked up to be. The problem with his wounds healing in the blink of an eye, is that bones don't always wind up in the right place, such as the one time his ankle set at the wrong angle. Whenever he breaks a bone, it'd be helpful if he knew an orthopedic surgeon with the Speed Force too.
3 He Can Fly
While running on solid terrain is Flash's M.O., he can take flight if need be. He achieves this by spinning like a top, using his vortex abilities to make himself a human tornado, or he can ride over a self-made cyclone.
Not only does this allow him to fly around Earth, but it also helps him achieve interstellar travel by harnessing his own atomic-molecular motion.
He can also can access the frictionless space-time vacuum, allowing him to run without even needing a solid surface. This also applied to Wally West, who was able to run across the surface of the moon-- only getting in trouble when he slowed his pace and almost asphyxiated himself.
We should add that he can run across water too, which is also a pretty neat trick. Basically, he has mastery over the elements.
2 He Once Ran Himself Into Oblivion
One of the most disturbing and upsetting ends in comics was the demise of Barry Allen in the iconic DC comics maxi-series Crisis On Infinite Earths. Allen lost his life trying to stop the Anti-Monitor from destroying the Earth, by creating a speed vortex to absorb the blast of his anti-matter cannon.
It's a heart-wrenching sequence, with The Flash running so fast he disintegrates. And with that, he was no more. Or so we thought. In truth, much like Obi-Wan Kenobi was resurrected as part of the Force, Allen become one with the Speed Force itself.
In his absence, Kid Flash (Wally West) would take up The Flash mantle for over two decades, until Allen returned in the Rebirth mini-series, twenty-three years after readers thought he was gone for good.
1 Yes, He's Faster Than Superman
If you stuck around for the after-credits scenes in Justice League, you got to see the Flash and Superman engage in a race to decide who is faster. We didn't see them finish the race, allowing for the audience to make up their own mind.
In the comics however, it's not really a question. The Flash is faster than the Man of Steel. We know this because they've raced each other several times in the comics. The first time showed them having a tie. It was staged to deny illegal gamblers their winnings.
Over the course of comics history the two have raced 5 times, two of which were tied (see above), but the other three, the Flash was victorious. Basically it's implied that Flash can move at the speed of light, and edges out Superman. It's always a close race, though. Luckily, it's a friendly rivalry.
Are there any The Flash factoids you would add to the list? Tell us in the comments.