The Flash is fast, but his new series can't come quickly enough.
Production on the pilot for The CW's "Arrow" spinoff, "The Flash," begins next week. Originally, producers intended to turn an episode of "Arrow" into a backdoor pilot for the new show, but Grant Gustin impressed the studio so much, they greenlit a full — and separate — pilot.
Set in Central City — just a short train ride away from "Arrow's" Starling City — the show is about Barry Allen (Gustin), an assistant CSI tech who gets knocked into a shelf full of chemicals during a massive lightning storm just as a particle accelerator explodes. As any good scientist (or comic book nerd) will tell you, those are the ingredients for superspeed — but we've yet to see a demonstration of his power.
[Related: First Look at New 'Flash' Costume]
Because "Flash" will exist in the same universe as "Arrow," where superpowers are few and far between, the show won't be following any sort of comic book continuity (in the current Flash comic series, Barry is from the future). Also, we probably won't be saturated with special effects early on. But as you can see below, there are plenty of supervillains waiting in the wings.
Here's a breakdown of who's playing who in "The Flash":
Gustin ("Glee") plays Barry Allen, the titular Flash. He's a lab tech in Central City who visited Starling City after rumors of superpowered activity. He was invaluable in helping Oliver track down the source of the Mirakuru serum that was creating an army of supersoldiers. He also found a kindred spirit in Oliver's assistant, Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards), who will appear occasionally on "Flash" to keep the two shows connected (and possibly lead to something more?). Barry also revealed that his mother, Nora — who will be played by Michelle Harrison (“Continuum”) — was killed by an unknown assailant with powers, so expect that solving that mystery will be a major part of the show. We'll likely only see her in flashbacks; but since "Arrow" makes extensive use of flashback, it's possible we'll see quite a lot of Mama Flash.
("The Vampire Diaries") plays Eddie Thawne, a co-worker of Barry's. In the comics, Eddie (or Eobard, because he's from the future — though this version, like Barry, appears to be set in present day) has had multiple incarnations. Most recently, he's been known as the Flash's archnemesis, Professor Zoom. Will he turn out to be the one who killed Barry's mom? If he gets his powers at the same time from the same particle accelerator explosion, it's unlikely. But then, the Flash comics have always had a strong time-travel component.
(BET's "The Game") plays Iris West who, in some comics continuity, becomes Barry's wife. The CW is calling her his "fast-talking, quick-witted best friend." So for those of you hoping he gets together with Felicity from "Arrow," the dream is still alive. Jesse L. Martin ("Law & Order," "Smash") plays Detective West, adoptive father of Barry and Iris's real dad, so the stepbrother-stepsister relationship may be the thing keeping them apart here.
("Neccesary Roughness") plays Caitlin Snow, a bioengineer who loses her fiancé in the accelerator explosion. Sadness plus explosion plus a bioengineering degree almost certainly means she will become the comic supervillain Killer Frost.
, a Broadway performer, plays Cisco Ramon. IMDb already lists his alter ego, Vibe — the only other superhero name listed besides Flash. Though he's a good guy in the comics, his vibrational powers can disable Flash's speed, so it's possible he will join the ranks of the supervillainy.
("Ed") will play Harrison Wells, the mind behind the S.T.A.R. Labs particle accelerator. He appears to be a new character created specifically for the show. Because the accelerator is his baby, it's possible that he may be the target of people impacted by the tragedy (see Caitlin Snow above). Unless, of course, he did it intentionally...
John Wesley Shipp has been cast in an unknown role. Shipp played the Flash in the 1990 series. It may just be a cameo, but it may become recurring, like the role of Tom Zarek that Richard Hatch carved out in Syfy's "Battlestar Galactica" remake (Hatch played one of the main characters, Apollo, in the original).
The producers have said they will be looser with superpowers on "Flash" than on "Arrow," though it will still remain a grounded series. Can the show work with that aesthetic? Many fans, including comic writer Korey Hunt, believe that much of the character's charm lies in its goofiness — for example, the "cosmic treadmill" the Flash uses to travel through time.
"What I like about Flash is the wacky Gorilla Grodd, Captain Cold, Professor Zoom, and the time treadmill stuff," Hunt told Yahoo TV. While the nonpowered heroes like Green Arrow and Batman lend themselves to seriousness because they're just regular guys, Hunt noted that "once they've got powers, you're already deep in myth and metaphor territory and you might as well embrace it and have fun."
While we may be a ways off from seeing a telepathic gorilla on TV anytime soon, seeing the names of at least three superpowered characters besides the Flash listed in the credits of that first episode is certainly a step in that direction.
Is there anything you hope to see in the show if it gets a series pickup? Favorite DC characters? The Flash comic book storylines? More Barry/Felicity smooching (Flashicity!)?