When the showrunners of The Flash dropped their very first nod to comic book villain Gorilla Grodd in the pilot episode, even devoted fans took it as a wink placed entirely for their benefit (in an episode downright filled with easter eggs). But keeping with the show's theme that anything is possible, the ape has already made his first (cameo) appearance - and according to the show's producer, it really - no, really - is a character they plan to deal with in the show's inaugural season.
Skepticism from even optimistic fans can be understood; while The Flash has delivered some impressive visual effects already, and looks to push the envelope even farther when Firestorm arrives, bringing a psychic gorilla to life is a task so singular, it's hard to know where to even begin. But executive producer Greg Berlanti explains to TVLine that the history hinted at between Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh) and Grodd is much, much more than a nod to the the fans:
I wouldn’t say teased. I would say we’re going to deal with it this year. The comparison I make is a little bit to Slade the first year on Arrow in the sense of we started with the mask in the pilot and then we saw which way we were going. He was, ultimately, in the back half of that first season even more than we would ever do with Grodd this first year because… We’re going to have to get the technology right and all the stuff right to make it look and feel real. But a lot of times, we do this stuff not as a tease as much as a challenge to ourselves of, “Can we do it?” Grodd’s definitely one of those, so we hope we pull it off.
Berlanti's comments clearly stop short of confirming that Grodd will take on his full persona and power set when he takes the spotlight; in the case of Deathstroke, audiences got to see the character grow into his comic book stature over the course of an entire year. Is a similar fate in store for Grodd? It's hard to stay. Even if the writers can explain the source of Grodd's powers convincingly, it's the effects side of the equation that, as Berlanti notes, may be the biggest hurdle.
With stunt performer Simon Burnett slipping inside the gorilla suit for the first Grodd cameo (shrouded in almost complete darkness), the show is in need of a more permanent solution, be it CG, practical, or a combination of the two. All things considered, the team's ambition is commendable. But in the end, fans would likely be willing to let them off the hook if a convincing Grodd is simply beyond their reach.
That doesn't mean outlandish or fantastic powers aren't already on their way to The Flash this season, with Berlanti adding that more of Barry's own comic book superpowers will be brought into the show's fiction, both in the short and long term:
We’re holding back on some big ones still. He famously can phase through things. We haven’t seen him do that yet. [Time travel] is the one that we deal with directly in the winter. We, obviously, hint at it from the pilot episode. That is a big — “theme” is the wrong word for it — but that is a big part of the DNA of who The Flash was, so we do deal with that.
Those who've been watching the show can guess at what Berlanti is alluding to, with no shortage of hints at time travel existing beneath the surface of Barry Allen's life, and even a few overt confirmations. How close the writers will keep to the source material is anyone's guess, but they're obviously not intent on keeping too many twists up their sleeve (Reverse-Flash will appear before the winter break, after all).
With no opportunity to expand The Flash's mythology being passed up, the network seems just as eager to get their shared universe off the ground. The crossover event coming in Episode 8 of The Flash and Arrow is the biggest step yet, and while it has yet to air, Berlanti claims that more crossovers are already being discussed for the latter half of each show's season. In the meantime, they need to figure out how to bring a psychic gorilla to life.
The Flash airs Tuesdays @8pm on The CW.
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