Fans are counting the days to the premiere of CW's The Flash, and despite the overwhelming odds against nearly any superhero casting, most seem to be viewing star Grant Gustin's portrayal with enthusiasm. Whether that's due to the showrunners' ability to launch The Flash using Arrow's existing universe, or simply a solid match, it seems that fan loyalty may be tested. According to Gustin, the show's version of the hero is one fans have never seen before.
With Barry Allen's Flash removed from his most well-known allies Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman (thanks to WB's division of film and TV), the writers have been given a bit more flexibility than might normally be expected. That was clearly the case with Stephen Amell's Arrow, since the show's twist on Batman Begins is a departure from the social crusader (and borderline 'hippie') of the "Green Arrow" comic books.
Since more of the core of Allen's character seemed to be kept intact - with executive producer Geoff Johns calling the show "the most faithful DC adaptation to date" - fans may have come to expect a familiar speedster. But changes are already starting to show: classic Rogues being co-opted by Arrow, another young woman giving (an uninterested) Iris West some competition for Barry's affection, his arch-nemesis being introduced as a Central City detective, and more.
Speaking in an interview with ComicBook.com, star Grant Gustin revealed that in preparing for the role, he intended to dive into as much Flash history as possible. Before long that challenge became far too great to accomplish, but they also proved to have little real influence on the version he'll be bringing to life. And the comics he has been given to study speak volumes about what to expect from The CW series:
"I started at the beginning at first. I thought I’d go all the way back and then kind of read. Then I was like: 'Wait a second, this is impossible. I can’t do all that.' So I read some of the old stuff but then once I worked my way toward the New 52 series, I’m pretty much just reading that now because it’s the closest to what we’re kind of doing. But at the same time, what we’re doing has not been done in the comics. It’s a very different Barry Allen. A lot of the characters are very different than they are in the comics, but they have the same heart.
"I mean, I’ve done plenty of the research but Andrew Kreisberg, Geoff Johns and Greg Berlanti are my research. If I need information, I can just talk to them. I don’t have to try to flip through the comics that relates to the episode we’re doing. I just call and have a conversation with them about it."
The showrunners have spoken in the past about the influencec taken from Geoff Johns' "Rebirth" reboot - a story in which Barry Allen was brought back into the DC Universe as the new star and current titleholder of 'fastest man alive.' With the New 52 version springing off of that reboot directly, it's no surprise to hear that it's been deemed the best starting point for any fan (or actor).
As for The Flash offering something that hasn't been seen in the comics, only time will tell if comic fans come to a similar conclusion. But from Gustin's point of view, being cast as a superhero only made sense once he understood the character the producers wanted to add to the Arrow universe:
"It was a little daunting when I got the role. It was a little daunting when I got the audition actually. I was excited to have the opportunity and didn’t… I mean, some things you’re like, "I have a really good chance at this," and I didn’t necessarily think that about this role. But now that I have it I see why they wanted to go in this direction.
"It’s kind of a different take on The Flash and I’m definitely starting to feel like I’m in the skin and I’m having a lot of fun. The writing is like they’ve already written in my voice so it’s easy enough to just kind of do it. And it’s just the most fun I’ve ever had, so it’s great."
It's hard to say if that enthusiasm for The Flash will continue when it heads up against an ever-growing field of comic book competition on the major networks. For now, Gustin is simply acknowledging that the fans are helping to relieve the stress that comes with playing a future Justice League member. Well, some of the stress:
"They’ve been just really accepting, I think because of the team mostly. They earned their trust with Arrow and they trust that this is going to be good. But now I think it’s just, honestly, I’m trying to with the shooting schedule we have trying to maintain also being able to train and eat as much as I can. I’m a thin guy and just trying to maintain my body while doing the schedule."
Are you open to the new spin on Barry Allen that The CW is shaping? Have the makers of Arrow earned your trust, or do you have different hopes for The Flash? Sound off in the comments.
The Flash premieres Tuesday, October 7th, 2014 @8pm on The CW.
Follow me on Twitter @andrew_dyce for updates on The Flash as well as movie, TV, and gaming news.