The Flash is rewriting its own history. Joseph McCabe raCes to keep up
Second chances are precious things. Rare, fleeting, and almost impossible to create. Unless, of course, you’re the Flash. But even a superhero can make mistakes in trying to make a better world… As The Flash’s second year drew to a close, Barry Allen had defeated the most powerful foe he’d yet faced, the demonic Zoom. But he paid a huge price for that victory – the death of his father. Just like his mother’s death years before, Barry watched helplessly while his dad was murdered by a speedster. This time, however, it was too much for the hero to bear. And so he decided to race back in time to save his mother once and for all, and, in so doing, spared both his parents.
Producer Todd Helbing gives SFX a glimpse of how things have changed since we last visited Central City.
“At the end of last season, when Barry went back to save his mother from being killed by Reverse-Flash, that changes his life. It sets him on a new timeline. So when Barry comes back from that, everything is different. He didn’t grow up anymore with Joe West and Iris in the house. He never ended up going to STAR Labs. All the people that he ended up having relationships with in seasons one and two are completely different. But, at the same time, he is living this sort of idyllic existence with his real parents, who are now alive.”
“At heart,” adds Helbing, “Barry’s this very optimistic character. And that optimism has been hiding the fact that there’s this hollowness inside him. So for the first time in his life, at least since his mother was killed, he’s able to have that hole inside of him filled. It’s everything he’s ever wanted. But what he’ll start to realise is that with every decision he’s made, there are consequences.”
dimensions & Time
Inspired by the DC Comics storyline Flashpoint (by writer Geoff Johns), Barry’s actions will affect at least one other show in the everexpanding DC TV Universe.
“Supergirl’s in another dimension,” says Helbing. “And then on Legends Of Tomorrow, they’re kind of travelling through time on their own. But Arrow’s in the same timeline, the same era, so it’s gonna affect that. There are some big personal changes with some of the characters… Flashpoint isn’t going to last a
whole season, but the effects of what Barry did will.”
When Flashpoint begins, one of those effects is that Joe West’s son Wally has become Kid Flash. The yellow-clad speedster, Helbing explains, will differ from Barry in his approach to crimefighting.
“Barry has powers, but there’s another Flash out there… Last year, Wally was racing cars. He was speeding into danger. He is a lot more of the egotistical, cocky teenager than Barry ever was. So there’s going to be a lot of bravado with him. Like, ‘I’m Kid Flash, man! Nothing can stop me!’”
Further complicating Barry’s life this year will be not one but two Big Bads: Doctor Alchemy and Savitar.
“Doctor Alchemy, like in the comics, has this thing called the Philosopher’s Stone, and it allows him to transmute things. He can create things out of nothing. So he is really creating a lot of problems for the Flash using that thing. Then on top of that we have Savitar. Savitar is the Hindu word for the god of speed. He’s like Zoom in terms of his speed. But it’s more of a psychological torment for Barry in a lot of ways. Because Savitar is kind of this cult leader. So you’ll see how that starts to pull people in and affect him. There are groupies around him. He’s totally different than Reverse-Flash and Zoom.”
Lending support in the villainy department is the Flash’s longtime comic-book foe Mirror Master, played by Grey Damon.
“Mirror Master is awesome,” says a smiling Helbing. “I feel like he was really the last big rogue… Well, there’s Abra Kadabra, who has some powers that we’re trying to figure out how to make look cool. In comic books it’s easy, but when you actually have to make it manifest… Even with Mirror Master, it’s like, ‘How the fuck do you get him in the glass without it looking goofy?’ In our version, he’s a meta. He doesn’t have a gun. You’re going to see his origin story. He’s this very handsome, egotistical guy who – once he gets these powers – wants to be king of the castle. Mirror Master’s the biggest guest villain right now. But I will say we’ll do a little Grodd action.”
The telepathic gorilla’s annual appearance
How often do you get to do a superhero musical? C’mon!
on The Flash has become a favourite of many fans. Though Helbing admits his story’s latest turn, in which he was banished to Earth-Two’s super-smart simian sanctuary, presented an enormous challenge. One viewers will see surmounted in a two-part episode…
“It’s one of those things where you screw yourself,” he laughs. “It’s like, ‘He lands in Gorilla City!’ Then it’s ‘What are we doing – so the next time we see Grodd we have to do Gorilla City?! We can’t afford that!’ Yeah, we’ll see what happens there.”
Helbing also indicates that Jay Garrick may be back in town to lend Barry a speedy hand when needed.
“Now that Barry knows the real Jay Garrick, another Flash, is out there, the odds of him using Jay to get some advice now and then will likely increase. It’s weird, for sure, that he looks like his dad. But there’s no way to get around that. So it’s going to be an element that Barry just has to deal with every time he sees him.”
Among this year’s new faces will be that of Tom Felton. Best known for playing Draco Malfoy in the Harry Potter films, the actor will take on the role of a new regular – Julian Dorn, a CSI at Central City PD who takes a special interest in Barry. Additionally, The Vampire
Diaries’ Susan Walters will appear as Caitlin Snow’s mother, Dr Carla Tannhauser, the CEO of her own research company.
But for many the most welcome news is that of a two-part musical in the season’s second half; in which The Flash will once more cross over with Supergirl. Both stars Grant Gustin and Melissa Benoist are veterans of TV’s tune-filled Glee. And with at least one new song expected per show, Helbing says it’s a project that’s especially near and dear to the heart of Greg Berlanti, the creator/executive producer of all the DC TV Universe shows.
“I don’t know if this is true, but somebody told me that with the musical episode on Buffy
The Vampire Slayer they planned for six months or something. So yeah, we’re definitely already working on it. This is obviously very close to Greg. It’s his baby. So I know he got the idea in his head months before he even told anybody. Every day it’s getting clearer what he wants to do. I’m excited. How often do you get to do a superhero musical? C’mon!”
With singing superheroes on the horizon and a younger speedster in Central City, Helbing assures us that The Flash’s third year will be lighter in tone than its often dark second season.
“It got pretty grim last season. That was one of those things where it was like, ‘This is gonna get darker and darker and darker. We gotta reset that.’ So that was a conscious thing that we all knew we had to do. I would say this season is more akin to the first season than the last five or six episodes of Zoom last year.”
According to the producer, it’s all about returning to what The Flash does best…
“I worked on Spartacus for four years, and that was a really dark show. To be able to write a show where at the end of every episode you feel good, and you see somebody enjoying their powers and what it means to be a hero… Everything is so dark in our world. To be able to do something light is really nice.”
Zoom: nothing to do with Fat Larry’s Band.
You’ll never win anything with Kid Flashes…
Now a major motion television programme.
The Flash is on Sky 1 in the UK and The CW in the US from October.