The Flash: “City of Heroes” Series Premiere Review

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Man, it sure seems like we’ve been talking about The Flash for a long time. We knew Barry Allen would be guest starring on Arrow well before Season 2 of that show started. But alas, here we are, the pilot of The Flash; and guess what, it lives up to the hype.

When Arrow first started, it seemed like it was trying to capitalize on the Bat-mania going on with The Dark Knight Trilogy being the only superhero movies anybody felt like talking about. But The Flash is already a few steps ahead of its brother series. The premiere takes superheroism back to its roots. If we’re to compare it to any superhero movies, the two that immediately come to mind are the original Superman from 1978 and Sam Raimi’s original Spider-man from 2002. Considering the number of superhero movies we’ve gotten since, those two are closer in spirit than they are to any of the Avengers films. Yes, they’re both corny, but they also have a purity to them that’s been missing from superhero movies as of late.

The Flash has somehow miraculously recaptured that purity. Grant Gustin is immediately likable as the dorky charmer Barry Allen. Much like Peter Parker classically chasing the school bus, Barry is always late to work. But also like Parker, he’s practically a genius. Working for the Central City police department as a forensic scientist, Barry is already attracted to a life of heroism.

In a classic origin story tragedy, Barry’s mother was killed in a strange electrical phenomena in their living room. His father (John Wesley Shipp, who played Flash in the 1990 series) was blamed and taken to jail. Barry was then raised by Detective West (Jesse L. Martin), whose daughter Iris (Candice Patton) is Barry’s childhood best friend turned sister-of-sorts. But of course Barry has the hots for Iris. As he and Iris attend the S.T.A.R. Labs turning on of their particle accelerator, a thief steals Iris’ bag. Barry runs after her and gets the wind knocked out of him. From home, in a scene from last season of Arrow, the particle accelerator malfunctions and lightning strikes Barry, sending him into a coma for nine months.

When he awakes, surrounded by the future Team Flash, Caitlin Snow (Danielle Panabaker), Cisco Ramon (Carlos Vaides), and Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh), he’s gifted with the power of super speed. You had to love the line, “Lightning gave me abs?” poking fun at convenient superhero origins while not putting itself above them.

Since the pilot is only 45 minutes, we pretty much speed past the awkward “learning to control your powers” phase of Barry’s origin story. There’s a little bit of it, but it’s not long before Barry has his first confrontation with a villain known to DC fans as the Weather Wizard (hint: he can control the weather). Unfortunately, he’s a pretty one note villain. Given this is a pilot trying to accomplish just about all of what the standard two-hour superhero movie does, it’s somewhat forgivable. Still unfortunate though.

Their final confrontation is a bit of a letdown as well. Although, it did allow Flash to don his pretty awesome costume in the premiere episode. But running in the opposite direction of a tornado was a little, well, boring. So it was a boring end to a boring villain.

One note, however, that was a bit unconventional was that Detective West already knows Flash’s identity. Of course he asked him to keep it secret from Iris, reaffirming that this will be a very by the book superhero show at least for now. That’s not a bad thing though. The Flash has set a tone that ensures it’s going to be incredibly fun, and that’s all it really needs to be. No one expects The Flash to be Breaking Bad, just like no one expects The Avengers to be Gone With the Wind. This is a show that can have a good time being itself, letting us in on that fun. Considering the Arrow already showed up in episode one, there’s a ton to look forward to in terms of DC’s CW Universe. Based on the pilot, I’ll be running to keep up with The Flash all season. Grade: B+

By Matt Dougherty

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