There are certain things possible today in superhero film and television that were simply not possible just a handful of years ago. Sometimes, that's due to the limits of (affordable) special effects, and other times, simply because some content or fiction is just too far for audiences to stretch their suspension of disbelief. Though its first season is still under way, The Flash is quickly proving that even the loftiest hopes of comic book fans are surprisingly far off the mark.
After The CW's Arrow - like Smallville before it - bided its time, saving well-established DC Comics villains for a time after it had found its own identity and structure, a strong formula seemed to be established. But for The Flash, a different approach is being taken: superhero crossovers, The Flash's archnemesis, and time travel have all been introduced - and as strange as it may seem, Gorilla Grodd is most definitely on his way.
Let's just make sure that even the non-comic fans understand that statement: Gorilla Grodd, the psychic, super-intelligent ape that has remained one of the most outlandish enemies The Flash has tangled with, is coming to The CW. The first mention of the character came as a small easter egg in the series' pilot, with a destroyed metal cage in S.T.A.R. Labs bearing the label of 'Grodd.' For fans, it was confirmation that in the show's universe, Grodd may owe his origins to the strange science practiced by Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh).
A trivia-filled poster would later confirm that "Grodd Lives," but fans were in disbelief once Episode 5 rolled around, revealing a serious beef between Dr. Wells and General Eiling (Clancy Brown). Apparently, the pair ended their past partnership once Dr. Wells felt the military man had overstepped morality in his treatment of their test subject: a gorilla named Grodd.
Those who thought the brief stinger was merely fan service - maybe, maybe to be explored in the future - were shocked to hear that the showrunners planned to tackle Grodd's story line in the show's first season. Then came the Reverse-Flash. And Firestorm. And a new lead in the mystery running through the heart of Barry Allen's life. In the grand scheme of things, battling a super-intelligent gorilla seemed to be on the back-burner.
But that was before Grodd struck. In yet another episode stinger, the gorilla - now shown with glowing red eyes - was shown to have mastered printing his own name, before dispatching two Central City public workers. Now, a teaser video courtesy of EW further confirms that Grodd is coming, with a brief hint that he'll rely on more than his muscles.
Unfortunately, the teaser video doesn't contain much new footage beyond the close-up seen above. But what comic fans will notice is the single line of dialogue from General Eiling: "that voice...it's in my head...dear God." It might sound like Eiling is simply plagued by the lives he has no doubt left shattered in his past, but given Grodd's involvement, the voices in his head could be quite literal - and provide a hint at how this take on Grodd could be worked into the Arrow/Flash fiction.
In the comics, Grodd began his life as a typical African gorilla until a radioactive meteor (later, spaceship) crashed into his home. The gorillas present were blessed with intelligence, telepathy, telekinesis, and the ability to not just control peoples' minds, but fire psychic blasts and attacks. The founding of an advanced Gorilla City and a lust for power eventually brought The Flash into the fold, whose accelerated brain patterns were the defense needed to keep Grodd in check.
Obviously, a gorilla capable of human speech, and able to levitate objects with his mind may be a stretch, even for the metahumans of Central City. But Eiling's comment (of voices in his head) may imply a more vague sense of telepathy. Since there is clearly bad blood between the general and the test subject, an opportunity to wreak havoc with the former's mind wouldn't be passed up. The Arrow/Flash crossover already opened the door to brain tampering using light/color, so a genetically augmented ape being able to do something similar wouldn't be too far a leap.
That being said, it's unclear exactly when Grodd will fully reveal himself, or what his goals may be (beyond revenge for General Eiling and Dr. Wells' testing). Printing his name on the walls of a sewer is a sign of intellect developing, but who knows how quickly he may master his other abilities? And since it's hard to believe the S.T.A.R. Labs team would keep an innocent ape locked up in their basement, there is serious potential to return down the road.
What do you comic fans think of the changes being made to this version of Grodd? For the Flash viewers who have never heard of Grodd in the past, how has the introduction gone thus far? Did the character's shocking reveal raise your hopes, or do concerns about Barry tangling horns with a psychic ape seem too serious to dismiss just yet?
We'll keep you posted as more substantial details are released, but for now, leave your own thoughts in the comments below.
The Flash airs Tuesdays @8pm on The CW.