The wait has finally come to an end, now that the one-time Arrow spinoff The Flash has debuted its first episode to fans around the world (read our review of the premiere here). But the series premiere wasn’t just a chance to see star Grant Gustin bring a character to life that fans were eager to see – it was also the first foundation of The CW’s shared TV universe. And boy, the showrunners did not disappoint.
When dealing with the realm of superhero comic book adaptations, a healthy dose of easter eggs and nods to fans are to be expected. But with the premiere of The Flash, the writers swung for the fences. DC chief creative officer and executive producer Geoff Johns claimed that this show will likely be “the most faithful DC adaptation ever,” and now that we’ve seen the wealth of references (big and small) in the first episode, it’s easy to see what he means.
WARNING!!! SPOILERS for The Flash series premiere follow!!!!!!.
Name & Title
Given the wealth of inner monologue usually found in comic books, it’s no surprise that most of DC’s heroes welcome readers into each issue’s plot with a bit of backstory, delivered in the form of text boxes. But where other heroes keep the narration to the case at hand, Barry Allen – ever the gentleman – usually takes every opportunity to begin an adventure by formally introducing himself: “My name is Barry Allen. I’m the Fastest Man Alive.”
The convention caught on quickly, and was eventually adopted as the catchphrase and introduction of his successors Wally West and Bart Allen. TV audiences have been brought into the loop as well, with Grant Gustin’s Barry using the exact same wording for the episode’s opening voice over.
In keeping with DC Comics’ love of all things ’52’ – as seen in their long-running backup feature “Channel 52,” keeping readers up to date with important happenings across the DC Universe – nearly every shot of news coverage in The Flash (like Arrow) before it shows that few citizens get their news anywhere else. Channel 52 News, as can be guessed, is another reference to DC’s New 52 lineup.
While corrupt police officers are a dime-a-dozen in both film and comic books, the police officers appearing in the “The Flash” actually tend to be honest (in most cases). While Joe West (Jesse L. Martin) may have been created specifically for the show, his colleagues are pulled straight from the comics: Detective Fred Chyre (Al Sapienza) is a resident of Keystone City in the comics (home to the third Flash, Wally West), but is dropped into Central City alongside David Singh (Patrick Sabongui) – who apparently gave up his job at the crime lab for a badge of his own.
Big Belly Burger
Although the greasy spoon diner ‘Big Belly Burger’ was first introduced as a meaningful restaurant to Arrow‘s John Diggle, it seems the chain has officially made its way to Central City, as noted by Barry’s lunch. Oddly enough, in the world of DC Comics, the restaurant first originated in Coast City (home of Hal Jordan) as a Lex Luthor-owned fast food chain modeled after Big Boy.
When Barry Allen first arrived in Arrow‘s Starling City, he did so with a copy of “Science Showcase” magazine in hand. The magazine – featuring a cover story asking if S.T.A.R. Labs’ particle accelerator is safe (spoiler alert) – makes a return in the show’s premiere. And it’s the title of the magazine that provides an easter egg going all the way back to the very first appearance of Barry Allen a.k.a. The Flash.
The public first got a glimpse of a speedster dressed in a full-body red jumpsuit in DC Comics’ “Showcase” #4, with the comic almost single-handedly launching the Silver Age of Comic Books.
The Twin Cities
Here’s one commitment to the source material that may escape even the most devoted followers of “The Flash,” glimpsed a handful of times through the first episode. Beside the S.T.A.R. Labs building can be seen a bridge currently under construction, flanked by multiple others; a commonplace sight for most cities (including Vancouver, British Columbia where the show is filmed), but more meaningful for those familiar with multiple generations of “Flash” speedsters.
Although DC Comics’ universe is built on fictional cities, the writers haven’t always shied away from actual regions. In this case Central City, Missouri (home of Barry Allen) is located directly across the Missouri river from Keystone City, Kansas (future home of Wally West). The influence of the twin cities can be seen throughout the show, as Keystone broadcasts are featured prominently. But it looks like the showrunners have chosen both locales as their backdrop.
Reporter on the Scene
When Barry returns to his lab for some late night detective work into his mother’s murder, a TV news report reveals that there has been a catastrophic failure during the initial run of S.T.A.R. Labs’ accelerator. That story is brought to viewers by Linda Park, reporting for KSFZ (possibly broadcast from Keystone City) – a woman fans know as the wife of future Flash Wally West.
Unfortunately, since Wally is Iris West’ nephew, Linda’s inclusion seems to be the strongest evidence that the showrunners will take liberties, should Wally West ever join the cast. That was always assumed given the decades of fictions the comics could work with, but including Linda as a news reporter is a nice nod to the larger “Flash” legacy.
Among the newspaper clippings and scraps of Barry’s concealed investigation into his mother’s murder – for which his father was falsely convicted – is a newspaper story showing Henry being arrested. For one, the story is credited to ‘Evan Gibson,’ who is actually a Star City TV reporter introduced in the New 52 reboot of “Green Arrow.” With the fictional city re-imagined as Starling for The CW’s Arrow, one can only assume Gibson will head there sooner or later.
As another nod, the story also claims that the murder was investigated by detectives out of the CCPD’s 52nd Division – another nod to DC’s New 52.
As proof that no easter egg will be too small for The Flash‘s producers, even Iris’ workplace is pulled from the comic book source material. In this case, it’s “The Flash” #1 (part of the New 52 relaunch) that featured the coffee chain dubbed ‘Jitters’ as a staple for Central City’s caffeinated crowd, with even the chain’s logo adapted for the TV series.
The first sign of Barry’s newfound powers is glimpsed after meeting Iris at work, where audiences (and Barry) get their first experience with “Flash Time.” Seeing a tray filled with drinks and food go tumbling may seem like a fairly obvious way of showing off Barry’s accelerated senses, but it’s also a nice nod to the original 1956 comic, since tumbling food was how the speedster first realized his heightened reaction time the same way.
As further evidence of just how much fun The Flash‘s showrunners are having bringing a superhero to life, the name seen on the side of the laundry van Barry uncontrollably runs into is also a nod to the original comics. In Central City, Paul Gambi – the tailor, not the dry cleaner – is the man largely responsible for the appearances of The Rogues – having crafted most of their costumes himself.
When in need of a military branch focused on experimental aircraft, the world of The CW’s DC heroes consistently turns to Ferris Air. Both comic fans and those who caught Ryan Reynolds in Green Lantern will remember that the company began as the employer of test pilot Hal Jordan, before he accepted his new titles as a member of the Green Lantern Corps.
When in Doubt, Run Really Fast
When Clyde Mardon manages to conjure a raging tornado on the outskirts of Central City, Barry’s plan of “running really fast in the opposite direction” may not be the kind of macho or aggressive attack plan superhero fans are used to. Nevertheless, the plan works, just as those who read “The Flash #190 (1969) knew it would; in the issue, Barry learns that the only way to diffuse a tornado is to get air moving just as fast in the opposite direction.
During the show’s closing montage, Cisco Ramon can be sporting a t-shirt with the catchphrase ‘Bazinga!’ The catchphrase is that of The Big Bang Theory‘s Sheldon Cooper (Jim Parsons), just one of the show’s characters possessing a special affinity for The Flash.
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