The Flash season two wrapped up last month with an epic finale – and one of Barry Allen’s worst decisions yet. The scarlet speedster headed back in time to the night his mother was killed (again), but this time, he saved her life. It’s a huge decision that undid pretty much everything Barry has done over the past two seasons – coming to terms with his mother’s death, discovering how time travel can affect the present, and making an earlier decision not to save her, in order to become the Flash.
As well as being a game-changer, the finale had fans everywhere talking about what Season Three would bring – namely, Flashpoint! While it’s possible that the show will decide to rectify Barry’s mistake in some other way, it’s doubtful that the writers would set up such a huge event and then not follow it through. If you are new to the comics (or just enjoy the show on its own), you may be a little confused by all the talk about Flashpoint – so we’ve rounded up everything you need to know ahead of Season Three.
Unsurprisingly, Flashpoint comes straight from DC’s comic archives. This is not a matter of a simple story or character arc, however. Flashpoint was a massive crossover event that took place in 2011, involving every single comic title that DC was putting out at the time. The Flash (Barry Allen) was the central figure, but most of the other major DC names were heavily involved, and the repercussions of Flashpoint affected every single character in the DC universe. After Flashpoint ended, DC cancelled every title, and relaunched their entire comic universe. The new continuity was named the “New 52”, after the 52 new series that debuted in the early fall of 2011. As such, Flashpoint is one of the most important events in the DC universe, wiping out all previous events and allowing the comic giant to effectively start from scratch.
Flashpoint begins as Barry wakes up in a completely changed world – his mother is alive, various other superheroes are villains or have different secret identities, and the JLA no longer exists. At first, Barry doesn’t understand what is happening, and thinks that this is an alternate reality. However, he soon realizes that it is his reality, but an alternate timeline. With so much changed, he seeks out Batman to help him return the timeline to its original state, taking him back to reality as he knows it. In the show, there will be an important distinction to make between alternate timelines and alternate realities, especially as so much of Season Two dealt with the multiverse and multiple Earths.
When Barry wakes up in the Flashpoint timeline, one of the biggest changes (for him, personally) is that he no longer has his powers. With his mother alive, Barry had no drive to go into forensic science, so he was not in a lab to be struck by lightning while handling chemicals, and he never gained his super speed. This is obviously a serious issue, as he is unable to do anything to fix the problem until he regains his powers, and it is up to Barry and Batman to find a way to restore Barry’s connection to the Speed Force. In the show, this has already been hinted at, as we saw an earlier version of Barry (the first one to attempt to save his mother), fade out of existence when Barry (the current version) stopped Reverse Flash. Presumably, this means that Season Three will open with a powerless Barry, just as it did in the comics
There are many, many character changes in the Flashpoint timeline, so we will just be covering some of the most relevant ones here. One of the biggest differences is that the version of Batman who is helping Barry throughout the story arc isn’t actually Bruce Wayne, but Thomas Wayne. When Bruce died in his place, that night in the alley, Thomas became a version of Batman (with a much less impressive Batcave). Superman is also missing from the Flashpoint timeline – his pod crashed into Metropolis, rather than Kansas, and he has become “Subject One” in a government project. Closer to home for Barry, Leonard Snart (Captain Cold) is no longer a villain, but Central City’s greatest hero.
As well as the more minor character changes, the Flashpoint timeline is completely different on a global scale. Without the Justice League, the Atlanteans and the Amazonians (led by Wonder Woman) are at war, and the casualties have been devastating. Cyborg’s attempts to unite the superheroes of the world have failed, and the US has joined the war. Multiple superheroes lose their lives during the events of Flashpoint as a result of this war, including many of those helping Barry Allen. As well as revealing just how different the world would be without The Flash, this war serves as more motivation for Barry to undo the changes he made to the timeline – he needs to go back in order to prevent the death toll from continuing to rise and the world eventually destroying itself.
It’s no surprise that Barry regains his powers during the Flashpoint arc. After all, what would a Flash-centric story be without the Flash? In the comics, Barry and Batman (after some convincing) decide to try and get his powers back by re-creating the accident that caused them in the first place. The two set up apparatus that looks very much like an electric chair, and it is struck by lightning. However, this fails to give Barry powers, succeeding only in burning most of his body. The pair attempt to try a second time, but Barry is struck by lightning before they can set it up, and this second strike returns his powers to him.
This may sound very familiar to fans of the show, as the final episodes of Season Two saw Barry lose his powers to Zoom – and Barry and Wells created a similar machine to try and get them back. The machine didn’t work in the show, either, and actually caused Barry Allen to disintegrate into the Speed Force, where he did regain his speed. It remains to be seen if the series will use this a second time, or do something very different with Season Three.
Just like in the CW show, the comic Flashpoint was caused when Barry Allen decided to travel back in time and save his mother’s life. Barry doesn’t realize this at first, due to his memory loss, and assumes that it was one of his enemies who re-set the timeline in order to cause chaos and prevent the Justice League from forming. However, it is finally revealed that this alternate universe is Barry’s doing, and that when he went back to change the timeline, he pulled the entire Speed Force into himself to do it. This makes Barry a living paradox (and creates something of a useful get-out-of-time-paradox-free card for the comic writers). Although the Speed Force has been a large part of the second season of the show, we are sure to get to know it a lot better in Season Three if Barry manages to pull it into himself in the same way he did in the comics.
Although Nora Allen is alive in the Flashpoint timeline, Henry Allen isn’t. In the original timeline, Henry Allen was convicted of the murder of his wife, and sent to prison. Although Barry fought to try and prove that Henry was innocent, which even led to him becoming a forensic scientist, Henry was never cleared and he died while incarcerated. In the Flashpoint timeline, Henry was never sent to prison, but he died a few years previously of a heart attack. In the show, Barry has gone back in time to save his mother after his father was killed by Zoom – if Henry is still not alive in the new timeline, it will be an incredible blow to Barry.
One of the many changes that occurred in the DC universe during the events of Flashpoint was the combining of DC’s three existing timelines. At the end of the Flashpoint story arc, Barry runs back in time to reverse his terrible decision. During this, he can see three different timelines: DC’s New Earth, Vertigo, and WildStorm. We’ve seen this kind of vision in the CW show, as Barry travels through time and catches glimpses of other Earths and times. A mysterious figure tells him that the universe had been split into three to weaken them, and the three areventually merged into one single DC timeline. Post-Flashpoint, the New 52 therefore had a single timeline to deal with. In the series, fans are already speculating that this version of Flashpoint will be used to pull Supergirl into the Arrowverse, potentially also allowing for other big-name superheroes to join the universe at the same time.
Once Barry has regained his powers and discovers that the alternate timeline is actually his fault, he goes about setting things right. After a tearful farewell with his mother, he travels back in time to the point at which he stopped Reverse Flash from killing his mother. He merges with his younger self, allows Reverse Flash to kill his mother, and this allows the timeline to re-set, undoing the alternate Flashpoint timeline. However, Flashpoint isn’t completely erased – a letter that Barry brought back with him survives, as do his memories of that time. While in the timestream, Barry has his vision of the three timelines, and brings them together to create an entirely new universe. He wakes up, much the same way he did at the start of the story arc, to a new timeline – the New 52.
That Barry merges with his old self, rather than appearing and stopping his former self as a separate version of himself, explains why we didn’t see any more “Flashes” in the room during the season finale. At this point, we can see the original Reverse Flash, and the earlier version of the Flash who is watching (but not trying to stop things). However, there is still only one “active” Flash – the one who saves Nora. If the Flash does come back to this point in time again, and didn’t merge with his former self, we would have seen yet another version of Barry at that same point. The merge is something of a useful tool to stop that particular point in time from getting a little too crowded!
The two big villains of The Flash so far have been the Reverse Flash and Zoom, and if the show follows the comics, Reverse Flash might be making a reappearance in Season Three. In Flashpoint, Reverse Flash is a major player. At first, Barry believes that it was Reverse Flash who created the new timeline. Later, it is Thawne who reveals that it was actually Barry’s doing. Thawne re-sets Barry’s internal vibrations, giving him his memory back, before telling him that he is now a paradox (which would allow Thawne to kill Barry, but remain the Reverse Flash). Although he is killed by Batman before he can do his worst, Thawne is a huge part of the Flashpoint timeline – which would suggest that we will be seeing him in Season Three. With Tom Cavanagh confirmed for Season Three, and rumors of his return coming with a twist, he may well be back as the original, evil version of “Harrison Wells”.
The mysterious hooded figure who Barry meets in the timestream at the end of Flashpoint marks the first appearance of Pandora – a mystical hooded figure who is later seen watching over the world in several different titles. Although Pandora still remains a minor character in the DC universe as a whole, she is vital to Flashpoint, as it is Pandora, not Barry, who actually merges the three timelines. If the series version of this event is going to use Flashpoint to merge the Supergirl universe with that of Arrow, The Flash, and Legends of Tomorrow, that means that we could see a live-action version of Pandora appearing in the show.
Although Flashpoint changed everything for the DC comics universe, some things are now changing back, courtesy of a new DC event: Rebirth. Although Rebirth is not a reboot, it returns us to the point at which Flashpoint created a new, unified timeline – and reveals that there was something else going on during the events of Flashpoint. Turns out, it wasn’t just Barry messing with the timeline and changing the world – it was a character from Watchmen (previously not a part of the same universe) who was manipulating time. Rebirth is going to involve a deeper look at the events of Flashpoint, and there are sure to be some important revelations along the way.