written by Justin Prince (@prince_justin)
I got the chance to check out the pilot episode of hands down my most anticipated new show of the Fall, CW's The Flash. I'm already a huge fan of what the folks behind Arrow have done with their DC properties. As a fan I plan to keep this review free from any spoilers and focus specifics solely on what was shown in the extended trailer CW released this Summer.
Reprising his role from Arrow, Grant Gustin takes on the role of the fastest man alive. Following a freak accident when the activation of a particle accelerator at STAR labs explodes, this mild mannered slightly awkward forensics investigator awakens from a nine month long coma with a few new tricks, primarily the ability to move at high speeds coupled with an accelerated healing factor. This we mostly already know from the comics, even his origin was featured in an episode of Arrow.
But let's step back a bit, the pilot episode opens with a flashback sequence. One night, Barry (age 11) wakes up to see this flash of yellow lightning surround his mother. The faint figure of a man is seen in this flash and in an instant Barry is whisked away to the other side of the neighborhood. That was a night Barry would never forget. His father is arrested, accused for killing his wife. This begins Barry's obsession with the unexplained, he knows that his father wasn't the culprit, but how do you explain your mother being murdered by a yellow blur?
Of course Barry isn't the only one who gained super powers from the explosion at STAR labs. The first taste of a truly fantastical DC television universe is wonderfully realized in this pilot episode. While I am a huge fan of Arrow, the show seemed to take a very Nolan-esque spin on the Green Arrow. Changes to characters like Count Vertigo in Arrow didn't sit too well with me.
Clyde Mardon (Chad Rook), a notorious bank robber, obtains the ability to control the weather. For those who are fans of the comics, the super-villain Weather Wizard is a meta-human with the ability to create meteorological anomalies with the flick of a wrist. In the comics, it was Mark Mardon (Clyde's brother) who was Weather Wizard. Whether the character of Mark Mardon with eventually take over the mantle with similar powers wasn't explored, but personally I'm hoping for it. My biggest criticism of the show was how evil they made Clyde Mardon. If in fact they plan to make Clyde out to be Weather Wizard, his character archetype is a far cry from his comic counterpart. As part of the Rogues, Weather Wizard (with fellow Rogues members like Captain Cold and Mirror Master) practice a sort of criminal code of conduct. They aren't like Lex Luthor seeking absolute power, nor are they the Joker with an insatiable bloodlust. The fact that they made this Weather Wizard a bank robber willing to gun down innocent civilians didn't sit well with me. I'm hoping that if CW intends to utilize the Rogues in this series, they touch on that criminal code of conduct, it's the dynamic to the Rogues that makes them so interesting to read about.
As for my favorite parts of the pilot, Barry's power as Flash is wonderfully realized. This is what I would love to see in a Flash movie, and if you saw the The Flashpoint Paradox DC Animated feature, the way they realized Flash's super speed will absolutely delight you. I found myself giddy throughout my viewing of the episode, fanboying over every little easter egg, hinting to the expanded universe of this DC television world. The inclusion of Professor Zoom, the yellow flash of light that killed Barry's mother, was another facet of this episode I loved so much, and as a comic book purist I can safely say that this feels like a truly faithful adaptation of the DC Comics source material. Though I found the pacing of the episode to be a bit jumpy at times, I felt that they did an admirable job with cramming a whole lot into a single episode. Also, the obligatory cameo from Stephen Amell's Oliver Queen/Arrow also made me excited for the series premier of Arrow, while equally adding to the bigger picture of what this DC television universe has in store.
Overall, it was a satisfying pilot episode. Deliciously satisfying the comic book nerd in me while giving the Flash a fresh spin. With the recent casting of Brandon Routh as the Atom in Arrow, along with Robbie Amell (yes, he's related to Stephen, nepotism FTW) as one half of Firestorm on The Flash. It looks like the DC properties on television aren't completely shying away from the fantastical.
The Flash premiers early October with Grant Gustin in the titular role. Joining him is Candice Patton as Barry's eventual love interest Iris West, Jesse L. Martin as Detective Joe West, Danielle Panabaker as Caitlin Snow, Carlos Valdes as Cisco Ramon, and even John Wesley Shipp (the man who played Flash in the early 90's television series) in a surprise role. Mark your calendars g33ks.