It seems so long ago that The Flash (The CW's version, at least) was just a guy who could run really fast. These days he's all grown up and throwing lightning, creating tornadoes with his arms, and even traveling through time. However, the latter ability does come with the risk of creating a wholly new timeline with ripple effects that could lead to disaster, as Barry Allen will learn in the upcoming third season of The Flash.
Geoff Johns and Andy Kubert's comic book story arc Flashpoint has already been adapted into an animated movie called Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox, which mainly used the prospect of an alternate timeline to kill off the DC universe's most famous faces in creative and violent ways. The story goes something like this: Barry Allen wakes up one day and finds that the world around him has changed. Superman is nowhere to found, Aquaman and Wonder Woman are tearing the world apart in a war between Themyscira and Altantis, and Thomas Wayne is Batman instead of Bruce Wayne (who is dead).
The Flash's take on Flashpoint began in the season 2 finale, changing things around by starting off with the twist reveal from the end of the original story: that Barry himself created the new timeline by going back in time and saving his mother from being killed by Reverse-Flash. The changes won't stop there, however, and executive producer Andrew Kreisberg explained the key difference in an interview with Entertainment Weekly. So, let's break down what's changed, and what has stayed the same.
No Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Superman or Batman
While the flashpoint comics and animated movie had the entire DC universe at their disposal, the Arrowverse is a little bit smaller. That means no war between the Atlanteans and the Amazonians, and no Batman - regardless of which Wayne is behind the mask. "All of that stuff is not at our disposal," Kreisberg explains, indicating that Warner Bros. is keen not to have too much overlap between the DC movies and TV shows. So, instead of depicting worldwide catastrophe, the showrunners shrank the devastation down and focused on one of The Flash's biggest ongoing themes: friendship:
"We really wanted to do something personal to Barry having changed his friend’s lives and Barry coping with [the fact that] he may have traded his happiness for his friends... The stakes in the comic book in Flashpoint were global and the stakes in this episode are very much just about Barry, his existence and the people that he loves."
Outside of Barry's immediate friends and family, the world of The Flash will be much the same as it was. We know that Flashpoint will affect Arrow, since Oliver Queen is among Barry's circle of friends, but presumably the impact won't be earth-shattering.
Barry Still Has His Powers
In the original Flashpoint comics and the animated movie, Barry's plan to fix the timeline is hampered by the fact that he wakes up without his powers. Desperate to get back to his own world before his memories of it fade altogether, he enlists Thomas Wayne's help in recreating the accident that originally gave him super-speed. The first attempt fails and just leaves Barry lightly barbecued, but a second attempt succeeds.
In The Flash, things will be a bit more simple: Barry still has his powers, Kreisberg confirms. In the source material it became clear very quickly that the world needed to be fixed, but Barry's time in the Flashpoint universe was extended by his need to regain his powers, and then to access enough of the Speed Force to turn back time. In the show, Kreisberg explains, the main thing stopping Barry from fixing everything is his uncertainty over whether it needs to be fixed:
"There is a time clock on the storyline. Whether or not Barry will allow Flashpoint to continue, or whether he will reset things again, and the costs of him doing either is the ticking clock in the episode."
The debate won't just be an internal one. Reverse-Flash will also be present in the Flashpoint universe and, unlikely as it might seem, wll essentially be playing the role of Barry's conscience. Kreisberg explains that "[Barry is] put in the awkward and ironic position of having his greatest villain, the man who killed his mother, being the one to tell him, 'This is wrong.'"
Fixing the Timeline Won't Fix Everything
Thanks to Barry going back in time and undoing his own well-intentioned efforts to save his mother's life, everything returns to normal by the end of Flashpoint - the two exceptions being that Barry still remembers the Flashpoint universe, and he brings back with him a nice note for Bruce Wayne from Thomas. Even though Barry's Flashpoint adventure won't take up much of season 3, Kreisberg indicates it will have greater repercussions than in the comics.
"It does and it doesn’t [last very long]. It will be resolved, but there will be consequences that last throughout the season, and quite frankly, last throughout the series. That’s one of the things that we’re attempting to do, is have the pitfalls of time travel be long-lasting and that some things can be fixed, and then some things are broken forever."
When asked if Barry's friends, if and when he returns to the original timeline, will ever find out about what he did, Kreisberg gives a coy answer: "I think you’re going to have to wait to see how that all plays out." However, the showrunner says that one of the biggest themes of the upcoming season will be, "What does it mean to have power and what you do with that power, and is power ultimately corrupting?" Once Barry has been given a taste of just how powerful his abilities are, will he swear off time-meddling or be drawn back to it again?
For the most part, it sounds like The Flash's take on Flashpoint will use the comics as inspiration, rather than a roadmap. Kreisberg said that there are "a couple of nods to the comics" and that the premiere even features some dialogue from the comics, but beyond that the show will be creating its own story with the characters that audiences have come to know and love. Perhaps that's for the best; after all, The Flash is a lot more fun when it's able to be surprising.
The Flash season 3 will premiere Tuesday October 4 at 8pm on The CW, Arrow season 5 will premiere in the same timeslot on Wednesday October 5, Supergirl season 2 on Monday October 10, and Legends of Tomorrow season 2 on Thursday October 13.
Source: Entertainment Weekly