Have you ever wanted to move faster? Of course, you have, we all do. But what if you didn’t just increase your words per minute, or earn those ten thousand steps a day a little faster? What if, like The Flash, you could travel so fast that time itself stopped having real meaning? What if you could vibrate your own molecules or create your own matter, or create speed vortexes? Would you do it? Could you handle it?
Well, The Flash can and does! There are a lot of superheroes with super speed, but the Flash is the fastest and that is a fact. While most speedsters just run fast in a straight line, or maybe run up walls, what Flash can do with that speed will shock and surprise you. You might think you know the scarlet speedster from Justice League and his CW show but you have no idea: The Flash is not a run-of-the-mill stock hero with generic speed powers.
This is a list compiling the 20 Crazy Things You Didn't Know About How The Flash Uses His Powers. All of these have been featured in the comics or TV show at least once.
20 20. He Can Master Any Skill
Malcolm Gladwell proposed the simple idea that anybody can become a certified expert at anything they choose to, if they are willing to put in at least ten thousand hours of focused practice at that particular task. It is an interesting concept, one that makes you think about everything you might accomplish if only you put the time and effort in.
In the time it takes most people to look up how to do something, The Flash is already an expert.
For normal people, the concept of practicing one task thousands of times for an extended period is somewhat intimidating, but for The Flash it is merely a matter of a few seconds. Since The Flash moves so fast, he can teach himself anything that comes with practice by practicing it thousands of times in a few seconds.
19 He Gains His Powers From A Lightning Bolt
The Flash’s origin story might seem a bit too convenient the first time you hear it. The idea that he was struck by lightning, covered in just the right chemicals it would take to convert him into some type of totem of the concept of time/space is a bit farfetched.
It turns out it isn’t a coincidence at all. During the Crisis On Infinite Earth mega-crossover, it was revealed The Flash wound up traveling back in time in pursuit of a tachyon particle. He ended up running faster than he ever had before, becoming a being of pure energy.
The tachyon was on a course straight through his own personal timeline and by the time he got to his origin, he no longer was Barry Allen. He was simply a bolt of energy that intercepted the Tachyon, which also happened to be the lightning bolt that struck him. It’s a complicated time loop.
18 He Can Become Pure Energy
Maybe Yoda was right when he said we aren’t this crude matter, we’re actually luminous beings of pure energy. A lot of Eastern philosophy is centered around such a belief. While we can argue about it all day down here on Earth, for The Flash it isn’t a matter of opinion.
When Barry Allen needs to, he can run fast enough that he slips away from being made of matter and becomes a being of pure luminescent energy; a living lightning bolt. We see him do this at various points in his career - most notably in DC: Rebirth, and the original Crisis On Infinite Earth.
The legendary artist Carmine Infantino is well known for drawing The Flash at various stages of transformation, from solid normal human, to glitchy half-energy, half-man, to full-on liquid lightning.
17 He Accidentally Blows Up Matter
Have you ever heard of the theory of quantum tunneling? The idea that individual particles can navigate through the empty spaces of otherwise solid materials? It’s a real scientific concept which The Flash literally embodies on a regular basis. Well, as long as he is being careful about it.
Taking the concept of super speed to its natural conclusion, The Flash is able to focus and vibrate all of his molecules at such a high rate of speed that collectively they are barely considered solid, allowing him to pass through walls, doors, tanks, whatever might be in his way. As long as he carefully regulates the speed at which he vibrates.
As he has learned the hard way, if he isn't careful he might cause the material he is passing through to heat up and explode. This could either be a really cool or a really dangerous power.
16 He Can Create Sonic Booms While Running
We already know he can move his body at subsonic speeds, but having this power also means he has to use it responsibly. The Flash moves so fast that he begins to leave miniature sonic booms in his wake. Much like his quantum tunneling ability, he must be careful about perfectly regulating his speed so he does not accidentally blow up grandma's house or flatten a police station.
The Flash could possibly use this side effect to his advantage. However, it is a risky proposition, and as a hero, the man is honor bound to preserve life first. While it might be tempting to try and strategically drop some sonic booms, it is highly unlikely that you'll catch The Flash doing so on a regular basis.
15 He Acts As A Catalyst That Accelerates Chemical Reactions
Barry Allen is a great guy. He doesn’t just save the world on a regular basis, he’d give you the shirt off his back. His presence and velocity could actually act as a super catalyst, and as such, could very well be a bad thing, under certain circumstances.
For example, he might initiate a chemical reaction that eventually leads to an explosion.
Due to his powers, something as simple as zooming through a laboratory and kicking up a bunch of chemicals, could have catastrophic consequences. Like all of his powers, this requires that he be aware of himself and his surroundings. He needs to know not only what is in his vicinity, but also how it might react if disturbed by his super speed. It is a lot of responsibility, but as a forensic detective, The Flash is no stranger to it.
14 His Face Can Change Shape
This one might seem a little too on the nose: of course anybody who moves fast, thinks fast, and can vibrate themselves into another dimension would have an advanced physiology. Digestion, healing, hair growth - you’d imagine everything happens a little faster for The Flash. His bones heal, his blood clots, scabs form and fall away much faster than any normal human being. But he can also use his super speed to achieve more stealthy schemes.
For example, The Flash can use the Speed Force to help him move his face so fast he can actually change the shape of it. Like a child moulding putty, The Flash can mould his face however he likes. This isn't a power he uses often, but he has been known to use this ability to great effect, especially during the dawn of his time as a hero in the golden age of comics.
13 He Can Create Solid Structures Out Of Pure Speed
The Flash is a super hero who has long been based in science. While Superman occupies the far reaching idealism of the American dream, Wonder Woman represents mythology, Green Arrow represents politics, and Aquaman represents... water.
The Flash has always been a comic that was firmly grounded in real world science, even if that science was hypothetical.
Having said that, The Flash's ability to create and control solid structures made by shaping "speed" has never been satisfactorily explained via science. Fans have argued about how The Flash manages to create these constructs, but no one has settled on an answer that everyone can agree on. The fact is that he can do it, and he does do it.
12 He Is Faster Than Superman
With enough strength to crush coal in his hands and turn it into diamonds, Superman is probably the world's most well-known superhero. He also has the most diverse set of powers: heat vision, cold breath, and of course, super speed.
Whereas Superman diversifies his superpowers, the Flash specializes in just one thing: super speed.
Throughout their long history as allies, the two have had many well-documented races to prove who was the fastest alive. Superman initially won, but at the time he was an alien god going up against an inexperienced kid. As Barry got to know his powers, he became faster and more confident, eventually running backwards while holding a conversation with Superman who was trying to outrun Flash, to no avail.
11 He Can Absorb Kinetic Energy
The Flash isn’t bulletproof in the traditional sense - whereas bullets bounce off his buddy Superman, and Wonder Woman can deflect them with her bracelets - The Flash has more of a nerdy, science-based way of dealing with high-velocity projectiles. When he isn’t just dodging them, The Flash can actually touch a bullet, absorb its kinetic energy and add its momentum to his own.
The Flash can absorb the kinetic energy in any object or person and repurpose it to his will.
A nifty trick when you’re keen to divert a sniper shot, take the winds out of the sails of an actual boat, or stop a car from potentially smashing into a person with but a swift, single touch.
10 He Runs Faster Than Instant Transmission
Sometimes it is hard to conceptualize the various speeds we say The Flash can run at, as we simply don't have a frame of reference. We all have a context for instant transmission. We've all spoken on the phone and heard someone on the other end, even though we know on some level there is a slight lag between when we speak and when we hear. That is called Instant Transmission.
You might be able to tell by the name, but instant transmission is pretty fast. Meaning the lag between sending and receiving is so negligible, one could hardly say it exists at all. A piece of time which is almost immeasurable, The Flash is able to outpace it. This might be one of The Flash's most infamous feats highlighted in the story “The Human Race.” Fans have debated the science for years, filling the internet with theories and equations.
9 He Literally Thinks Too Fast For Telepathy
If you think about it, there are probably a lot of non-standard ways to use such a broad power as super speed. Since The Flash can think so fast, he was probably able to think of all the different ways to use his powers.
Thinking fast is also pretty handy when it means that your thoughts are a blur to any outside elements.
For example, when Flash goes up against a mind reader like his friend and co-worker on the Justice League, Martian Manhunter, or a mind-controller like Gorilla Grodd, he is basically impervious to their abilities because the velocity of his thoughts is incomprehensible to anyone without the ability to move as fast as him - which is basically no one.
8 Speed Reading And Speed Comprehension
Reading is fun and most importantly, it is fundamental. Barry Allen is a science-minded person - .as a forensic scientist for the Central City Police Department, Barry is the point man on CSI style investigations like the ones you see on various television shows. Because as everyone knows, in addition to being The Flash, he is also a science cop.
Learning is a big part of his job and it helps him as The Flash. His speed powers allow him to read volumes of data almost instantaneously and fully understand them - it comes in pretty handy when you’re cramming for a test. The truth is, his comprehension and memory of the data learned this way is short. While he has the ability to read up on the science and various forms of physics, the information will only remain in his mind for a short while.
7 Secret Communication With Other Speedsters
Whether he is talking to Superman, Wally West, or Teen Flash, The Flash has the ability to speak and understand words faster than normal humans do. This is a particular aspect of his super power that has allowed him to covertly maintain ongoing conversations with other speedsters in front of regular people who are completely unaware of what is actually going on, or what is being said about them.
He can talk the talk as much as he can walk the walk.
This power might be considered useful for coordinating a plan to take down a villain while staring them dead in the eye. It allows him to communicate a lot of pertinent information or discuss some anticipated action without taking up too much time.
6 High-Speed Vibration Of His Vocal Cords
The versatility of The Flash's speed powers should never cease to surprise you. There are a lot of different speedsters in comic books all who have their own interpretation of how to use their superpowers. Whereas Marvel’s Quicksilver can just run fast, The Flash can use the concept of high velocity within his body to control all aspects of himself.
For example, he can vibrate his vocal cords in all sorts of ways to perfectly mimic the voice of others. What initially sounds like a neat parlor trick actually has a lot of tactical uses. For example, he can easily fool any voice verification system or fool people over the phone. Such trickery might not be as exciting as high speed punches, but the ability to deceive your opponent and avoid violence is a noble undertaking.
5 Speed Vortexes That Can Trap Others
Possibly one of the most infamous uses of Flash’s powers is his ability to encircle an opponent at high speeds and create a swirling vortex. Most people wouldn't think that literally running in circles would somehow become a viable way for defeating supervillains, but The Flash isn't most people.
It has been seen in almost every incarnation of the character, and is perhaps his trademark maneuver.
This is another non-violent use of Flash’s powers which allows him to disarm and incapacitate an opponent without resorting to a high-speed flurry of punches. We’ve seen this use of his power from the beginning of Flash’s career as a comic book character and it is one of the most consistent uses of his abilities.
4 He Can Throw The Lightning Generated By His Speed Force
Just like some of your favorite Street Fighter characters who can summon and then throw fireballs, The Flash has the ability to throw balls of lightning. Unlike Ken or Ryu, the lightning he throws isn’t technically a ball of energy. Instead, when The Flash throws lightning, he is actually channeling the energy of the Speed Force around him, containing it and then aiming it at a target.
This is another controversial power, but it's pretty cool, and brings The Flash out of the realm of being a melee fighter into the strange world of ranged combat. We have yet to see him use the lightning ball ability in the DCEU, but he has used it in his CW show, and some contemporary comics.
3 The Flash Creates Air Cushions By Flapping His Arms
Being the fastest man alive is powerful when you’ve got at least one foot on the ground, but what happens when you’re dropped out of an airplane or pushed off a building? Luckily for The Flash, he has discovered the bizarre ability to flap his arms at such an intense velocity that it ends up creating a palpable cushion of air beneath him he can actually land on or otherwise use to break his fall.
The Flash uses this power regularly.
This is a controversial power, mostly because fans aren’t exactly sold on the idea of this being possible. It’s also just not very cool. He has also been known to flap his arms on the ground, and channel the wind from it like a cannon to discombobulate opponents.
2 Infinite Speed Means Infinite Mass Punch
Finally, after almost two dozen different powers and abilities, we get to something cool. Not to say that speed reading, speed talking, wind vortexes, or time travel isn’t cool, but these are comic books after all, and comic books are a great format for some old-fashioned fighting. Except this isn’t an old-fashioned punch. This is the ultimate punch.
See, as The Flash approaches light speed, he begins to experience the relativistic effects of going at that speed. This means his mass increases exponentially. Not quite infinite, but more momentum than any naturally occurring haymaker any regular human might throw. Mix this ability with the previously mentioned *speed force protecting his body, and Flash can basically deliver an atom bomb the size of his fist wherever it needs to go.
1 Absolute Control Over All The Molecules In His Body
This is number one because it is possibly the weirdest of all of The Flash's myriad abilities. Due to the vagaries of what speed actually means and can do, this power gets The Flash into all kinds of predicaments, allowing his body to be stretched, twisted, readjusted, and glitched into oblivion.
Whereas most people would be trapped in that kind of nightmare state *for ever, The Flash can actually call upon the will to vibrate each and every molecule of his body, and then reshape it back into its original state. Not the most common of powers, The Flash doesn't get much of a choice. He can only do the best he can with the abilities that were given to him at the time he ran so fast he went back in time and turned into The Flash in the first place.
What new The Flash superpowers did you learn about? Let us know in the comments!