The Flash Keeps Failing To Get The Rogues' Gallery Right

Grant Gustin as The Flash and Nora's Young Rogues

The Flash' latest episode, "Gone Rogue", is just the latest one in a long line of episodes that fails to properly recreate Barry Allen's Rogues' Gallery. For all the success The CW series has had in bringing various aspects of the comics to life, it has never managed to do justice to the gang of high-tech thieves who make sure Barry's life is never dull.

The Rogues stand as something unique in the world of comic books for several reasons. Unlike other villainous organizations, like the Sinister Six or Masters of Evil, the Rogues were not designed to be a standard supervillain team, forming organically as various Flash villains accidentally found themselves robbing the same target and joining forces to fight the Scarlet Speedster. As such, the Rogues are more of a social club than an organized criminal enterprise, with the members going solo or working together as it benefits them. Despite this loose organization, the Rogues are remarkably disciplined in action. They are also notable for having a strict code of conduct which forbids casual drug use as well as the use of lethal force, except in self-defense.

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The Flash's "Gone Rogue" episode saw Nora West-Allen forming her own gang of Rogues. Needing the help of some skilled thieves and criminals whose powers weren't dependent on a metagene, Nora recruited the Bug-Eyed Bandit, Weather Witch, and Rag Doll to help her steal a special gun that she needed in the fight against Cicada. This group was dubbed the Young Rogues, ironically stealing the name from a group that the villain Silver Ghost had intended to start (with Weather Witch as her first recruit) earlier in season 5, in the episode "The Flash and the Furious."

The Flash The Young Rogues Bug Eyed Bandit Weather Witch Rag Doll from Gone Rogue

The Flash has hinted at establishing the Rogues several times since the pilot episode, which pitted Barry Allen against the show's first version of the Weather Wizard. The Flash season 1 introduced Captain Cold (the traditional leader of the Rogues in the comics), and by the season's end, it looked like he was about to officially form the Rogues' Gallery, after helping all of the metahuman criminals imprisoned in STAR Labs escape in the episode "Rogue Air." Those plans changed when Captain Cold and his partner, Heatwave, were recruited into the Legends of Tomorrow and the idea of an organized team of Rogues was largely forgotten after the Trickster and Weather Wizard teamed up in the season 2 episode "Running To Stand Still." Since that time, the show introduced a team of New Rogues in season 3, and season 4 adapted metahuman crime-boss Amunet Black, who had formed her own gang of Rogues in the comics.

Ironically, the difficulties The Flash has had in bringing its greatest group of villains to life may lie in the care the show has taken in crafting its villains as individuals. The show has done a phenomenal job of casting its core villains, recruiting talented actors like Wentworth Miller, Dominic Purcell, Peyton List, and Mark Hamill, among others. Getting that many actors together for a single episode could prove difficult, logistically, and giving them all a chance to shine would be an even greater challenge for the show's writers, who already have their hands full balancing a large ensemble of heroes. This means fleshing out villains inhibits the writers' time to depict them as part of a supervillain team, one as simple and recurring as the Rogues. Top-name actors may not be willing to show up for one episode here and there, after all.

Another issue that The Flash has in properly portraying the Rogues is that all of its season-long storylines so far have been focused upon lone villains rather than them as a collective. More effort has been devoted to building up the likes of Cicada or The Thinker as a one-man wrecking machine than considering the dangers posed by an organized union of low-level criminals working together and playing it smart. This might not be as visually exciting as Barry Allen having to fight yet another evil speedster who can somehow outrun "The Fastest Man Alive," but a season focused on the Rogues' Gallery might be an interesting change of pace.

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