The Flash, based on DC’s well-known speedster hero, spins off from CW veteran Arrow on Oct. 7, one day ahead of the season debut of Arrow season 3. Barry Allen, the Flash’s alter ego, was seen briefly in last year’s Arrow season 2. Now, he’ll get adventures all his own, plus return visits from Arrow.
In this TV iteration, Barry Allen is a crime scene investigator in the Central City Police Department, much like his current comic book occupation. His choice of career is fueled by a terrible incident from his past — he saw his mother murdered, and his father falsely accused and convicted of the crime. Barry was raised by Central City cop Joe West, and has learned his trade to help catch bad guys by day, and find his mother’s real murderer and clear his father’s name by night.
That all changes when Barry is struck by lightning as a particle accelerator at high-tech think tank S.T.A.R. Labs simultaneously explodes. A “dark matter wave” gives Barry his speed powers, and also seems to result in a number of other metahumans suddenly popping up.
The show is planned very much as a ground-level experience where the viewer rides along with the hero.
“When you start Arrow, Oliver was every bit as much the Green Arrow as he ever was going to be, skill-wise,” said Andrew Kreisberg, one of the series’ developers and executive producers. “But for the Flash, it’s day one of being a hero. And you experience the show through Barry, and you learn and experience becoming the hero just as he does.”
Kreisberg and DC Comics Chief Creative Office Geoff Johns co-wrote the first two episodes of The Flash. Johns spent years writing the Flash comic as well, and the show is well-steeped in its comic books roots and traditions.
“This show, more than any show out there, ever, embraces the superhero lore,” Johns said. “There’s no reluctance on anyone’s part. We’re all-in on it. This is the most comic book show ever.”
Certainly lots of nods to the comics will be seen: There’s a “Hex’s Gun Shop” in the second episode, and DC villain Simon Stagg pops up as well; that’s after the Weather Wizard shows up in the pilot and a certain beastly villain gets teased. Importantly, a two-part Arrow crossover, with one episode happening in the timelines of each show, is planned eight weeks down the line. But the motion of the show is the most important factor.
“I think when you do episodes that have — and I don’t mean this pejoratively — a ‘gimmick,’ the best thing you can do is make sure it’s not just a gimmick,” Kreisberg said regarding the crossover episodes. “This advances the storylines that we’ve been telling. The characters really grow. When you look at both these episodes, it isn’t just about the crossover of the casts. They’re important episodes. One of the biggest surprises of all time on Arrow will happen on a Flash episode. And both episodes are really important for Barry’s growth.”
Johns promises that things that look like Easter eggs will have impact. “One of the great things about working with [fellow executive producer] Greg Berlanti is he’s never one to say, ‘Let’s just throw something out there, and we’ll get to it eventually.’ There’s always a plan and a payoff waiting at the end. Greg is great about making sure that everything that’s set up is paid off. There’s references to [Gorilla] Grodd, and that’s not just a reference. There’s plans for all sorts of crazy stuff.”
Most of the crazy stuff starts with S.T.A.R. Labs trying to locate and track other metahumans who may have been created by the dark matter wave. Some of them, as you might imagine, become parts of the Flash’s rogues gallery.
“For the first half of the year, it is a little bit of an anthology show in that there are characters who are affected by the collider who get dramatized and brought in,” Berlanti said.
Kreisberg added that, “What they [S.T.A.R. Labs] are going to end up doing with metahumans becomes a very big part of episode 3, and how they move forward becomes one of the biggest elements of the show.”
The plans are big, and Kreisberg feels the crew’s time is now. TV ratings are, of course, vagaries. Best to get everything in Flash-style — fast. That plays well into what many of these same people have been doing on Arrow, with major changes to characters, deaths, and a “why wait?” attitude to events.
“We don’t wait around,” he said. “Between me, Geoff, and Greg, we feel like this is our chance. You never know, so this might be the only season we get to make, the only 13 episodes we get to make. So everything we want to do, we’re throwing in there.”
The Flash debuts on the CW Network on Tuesday, October 7.