So, I swear, I’m hard at work on the Uncanny X-Men Top Ten Set Review (hopefully by the end of next week, but I can’t promise anything… yet!), but today we’re gonna take a break from our regularly scheduled programming and talk about some good ol’ fashioned superhero TV.
Well, the 2015-2016 TV Season just ended, and there’s a few things that need discussin’!
A year ago, I thought Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was pretty consistently solid while The Flash (in its first season after spinning off from Arrow) was kind of cheesy, at least initially. I thought the show really found itself during the back half of that debut season and (like A0S) had a dynamite finale.
Fast forward a year, and both shows have just finished firing off their best seasons. When considering all the great comic-based TV we have these days, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. had probably the best episode of the season (that would be its fifth episode, 4,722 Hours), but The Flash turned in an extremely solid run of 23 episodes that didn’t really have any turkeys in the bunch. The finale, in particular, is what I want to write about today.
At this point, like all other bloggers, I am contractually obligated to note that the rest of this post will SPOIL much of the Second Season finale of The Flash. If you wish to proceed from here and have not seen this episode yet, you have been warned. We’re jumping in:
Okay!! Still with me? Good. So, if you made it to the end of the finale, you know that after defeating Zoom, Barry went back in time (again) to the scene of his mother’s death (again) and finally decided to do something about it.
In the process of beating up the Reverse Flash, Barry SEEMS to have done some possibly irreparable damage to the Timeline and changed both the past and the future in ways we’ve yet to see. What does it all mean?
Essentially, it seems like we’re headed for “Flashpoint” in Season Three, or at least the Berlanti-verse version of it. The Flash has become the most interesting DC show on television, and the ramifications of this finale are potentially mind-boggling.
WHAT WE KNOW:
-There are four shows in the Berlanti-verse: Arrow, The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow and Supergirl. Of those four, the first two are closely connected and part of the same extended universe; Legends of Tomorrow is primarily populated with DC characters who were previously introduced as supporting characters on either Arrow or The Flash. It is seemingly connected to Arrow and The Flash, although it’s unclear even–or perhaps ESPECIALLY–if time travel on Legends of Tomorrow works the same way that time travel on The Flash works. For this discussion, it’s not really important though.
Supergirl is set on a completely different Earth where there is no Flash and no Arrow; this may be important later. Flash did randomly journey to Supergirl’s Earth during Supergirl’s first season, so the two characters have met at least once.
-All four shows were renewed for the 2016-2017 season.
–All four shows will crossover with each other at least once during the season; currently, the big crossover event doesn’t have an exact date (it’s still at least 5-6 months away), but sometime in mid-November would be a good bet.
-The presumed source material for The Flash‘s third season, Flashpoint was a major DC Comics crossover event from 2011 that completely changed the status quo and introduced the “New 52” universe (I’m not a huge fan of the New 52–I liked DC fine enough the way it was, but there are those who really dig it). One of the benefits for DC of remaking their universe was the opportunity to fold in Jim Lee’s recently acquired Wildstorm characters (WildC.A.T.’s, The Authority, etc.). Basically, DC used Flashpoint to incorporate an entire, newly acquired universe in the main DC hierarchy.
This may be important later…
WHY FLASHPOINT CAN’T JUST BE A STRAIGHT ADAPTION:
-So if you’ve made it this far, then you’ve probably either read “Flashpoint” at some point or else you just read the Wikipedia (read: Cliff Notes) version of it.
And you know that there’s an awful lot of folks who play major roles in that story who haven’t been introduced yet… and–(NOT REALLY A) SPOILER ALERT–are not getting introduced into the Berlanti-verse anytime soon.
-Batman ain’t coming (he’s being portrayed as a petulant little twerp over on FOX in a show called Gotham). Moreover, there seems to be an edict from DC that Berlanti can’t introduce any of the Trinity characters on his collection of shows. Or at least that’s the rumor.
I actually think it’s even worse than that.
I think Berlanti is forbidden from using any of the seven main Justice League folks except the Flash, since he’s already established, and I think if Warner Brothers could find a way to take back Barry Allen, they would, despite the show’s success. Why? Because unlike Marvel, DC wants their TV universe separated from their (theoretically) burgeoning film universe. There’s a few reasons why they prefer things this way, and a host of reasons why this is dumb. But that hasn’t stopped DC and Warner Brothers before, so why should it now?
Even though Batman V Superman was greeted with a critical thumping, it still performed juuuust well enough at the box office to keep DC from completely pulling the plug on this iteration of their movie-verse (we’ll take a page from the internet here and just call it Zach Snyder’s “Murder-verse” for short). And as long as they’re going to continue with that continuity, most of the big-name DC heroes (and even C-list characters like Booster Gold, who now has a Zach Stentz-penned movie in development) will remain completely out of reach for the Berlanti-verse.
-Thomas Wayne (Batman in the Flashpoint universe) ain’t coming (for the very same reasons Batman isn’t);
-Martha Wayne (and her Joker turn) ain’t coming;
-Wonder Woman and all the Amazons? Ain’t coming;
-Aquaman and his Atlantean army? Nope. His profile has gone way up since Smallville. I’m betting he’s off-limits too.
-Booster Gold was mentioned above; he had a big role on the periphery of Flashpoint… and I’m pretty sure he ain’t coming (it would make no sense to cast an actor to play Booster for TV when you’re dead-set on recasting the role for the movie version in a couple years anyway–if everything pans out, that is).
-Cyborg has a movie on the docket. He’s not gonna show up;
-Pick a version of Green Lantern. Who’s your favorite? Hal Jordan? John Stewart? Guy Gardner? Kyle Rayner? Guess what: none of them are coming, despite the fact that any of them would kill on the CW (“Blackest Night” done over the course of a 4-show crossover on the CW? Yes, please! Too bad it will never happen).
-You get the point. Despite all of the those characters making very specific and important appearances throughout “Flashpoint,” I’d bet dollars to donuts that not a single one will show up in the Berlanti-verse next year.
But here’s the surprise twist: you don’t need ANY of them to faithfully adapt “Flashpoint” on The Flash. Not a single one.
WHAT WE THINK WILL HAPPEN:
-When you think about it, Arrow on the CW is really just the story of how Bruce Wayne became Batman–it just doesn’t have Bruce Wayne or Batman in it. But Oliver Queen in Arrow is a rich playboy who suffers the trauma of losing his parents and decides to dedicate his life to stopping crime and saving his city. Oliver Queen would be a perfect stand-in for Bruce Wayne in the Berlanti-verse.
“But won’t Stephen Amell be hella-busy shooting his own show?” you might ask. Yes. Yes he will be. But remember, Bruce Wayne pretty much just showed up at the end of the story, so Amell really only needs to show up for the end of the “Flashpoint” storyline (which may or may not happen during that already-planned November crossover that Amell will be doing anyway).
Besides, the producers may already have a different actor in mind to play Green Arrow on The Flash:
Yes you, Jamey Sheridan. Thomas Wayne was the man in the Batman costume during “Flashpoint,” and similarly, Robert Queen could be the man under the cowl in the new, altered timeline. In fact, I think the producers hinted at this possibility during one of the Earth 2 excursions we witnessed during Season Two, where Robert Queen was unmasked as Green Arrow during a news report.
Bringing back Robert Queen for a few episodes to actually be the Green Arrow would be pretty slick for two reasons: firstly, it would bring back a somewhat under-utilized Berlanti-verse supporting character for an awesome final run. Secondly, it would still maintain the original spirit of Thomas Wayne’s “Flashpoint” storyline.
And best of all, it would allow them to do that final envelope scene from “Flashpoint” where Barry puts the universe back together again (more or less) and then hands an emotional, handwritten letter to Bruce Wayne from his dead father, Thomas. That scene was a beautiful coda to the whole saga and is, frankly, one of the best reasons to try and adapt this particular storyline. Probably THE best reason, actually (“Heart, Humor and Spectacle,” indeed!).
But the only way that final scene lands is if the producers can get Mr. Sheridan to come back and suit up for a few guest-starring roles as Green Arrow on The Flash.
-In “Flashpoint,” Martha Wayne’s grief over losing her son Bruce eventually twists her mind until she becomes a psycho-Joker. Once that’s revealed, she pretty much just falls in a pit of bats and then dies.
If Berlanti’s team wants to bring back Moira Queen and have her do a similar heel turn, that would be fine. Could actually make for a cool sort of one-off “Villain of the Week.”
-No Aquaman and no Wonder Woman is trickier, since their respective nation’s escalating war threatens the whole world and without them, a major source of environmental tension would be gone. But once again, you really don’t need those specific characters–indeed, having them show up out of nowhere at this point would probably be kinda jarring.
What you really need is two large organizations fighting with each other on a scale that could threaten the whole world with how out-of-control their conflict becomes. What about the assassins of Nanda Parbat versus the shadowy intrigue of The Hive? Could one not argue that, if left unchecked by Oliver and his team, both of these organizations would have been on a super-powered collision course by Season Four of Arrow?
-And since we brought it up before, wouldn’t this all have to have a big effect on Arrow, Legends and Supergirl?
Yeah, to really hit home, it probably would. But Arrow could actually pull a fast one and basically start telling their Season 5 story without really acknowledging The Flash but showing subtle differences between the Season 4 status quo and the Season 5 status quo. Then, after the crossover, we find out the differences are because on Arrow, we’ve been watching the post-Flashpoint continuity all along!
Legends is already a time-traveling show and its central characters could show up at some point in November to help Flash put right those things that once went wrong, but they exist outside the normal flow of time to begin with, so, in theory, they don’t really need to worry so much about the repercussions of “Flashpoint.”
And Supergirl? Well, Supergirl’s universe would suddenly and inexplicably–or perhaps even splicably–find itself on Earth 1 or Earth 2, ready to adventure with our
CONCLUSION: This is all wild speculation, of course, but isn’t that what makes the internet so damn much fun at the end of the day? Anyway, whether Season Three of the Flash goes even something like what I’ve predicted here, or if it turns out to be completely different, I will be watching the CW this Fall with great interest.
And don’t forget to join us next time as we get back into Heroclix with our Uncanny X-Men Top Ten Set Review!
Until Then, Stay Safe, and Watch Where You Draw Your Lines of Fire!