The DC universe on television is thriving – Arrow, The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow were all recently renewed for their fifth, third and second seasons respectively, and for the most part all three shows are being met to widely positive acclaim.
Of course, though, television isn’t the only place we’re seeing DC characters; Warner Bros are developing their own DC Cinematic Universe, with both Batman vs Superman and Suicide Squad being released later this year. This burgeoning film series has been having something of a strange impact on the CW shows as they currently exist, however.
You see, Warner Bros doesn’t want any of the characters who are going to appear in the movies to appear in the television shows, and therefore are placing embargoes and limitations on who can appear. In theory, this makes sense – you can understand why they wouldn’t necessarily want two different versions of Superman hanging around, after all.
However, Arrow has already introduced several characters who have since been chosen for the movie treatment; notably Deadshot, played by Michael Rowe on Arrow and to be played by Will Smith in the upcoming Suicide Squad movie, and Amanda Waller, played by Cynthia Addai-Robinson on Arrow and to be played by Viola Davis also in Suicide Squad.
The solution put forward by Warner Brothers has been to kill off these characters, preventing them from appearing again, and preventing audience confusion. (It is, of course, a rather patronising view of the audience to believe they wouldn’t be able to separate the different iterations of the characters, but that’s beside the point.) Both Deadshot and Waller have been disposed of, and with Katana, another character set to appear in Suicide Squad, reappearing on Arrow later this season, smart money indicates she’ll be meeting her demise as well.
There’s one other character remaining, who is soon to get the movie treatment, but currently hasn’t been killed off. If this trend follows, though, they could well be next.
And that’s Barry Allen, main character of The Flash.
Grant Gustin plays Barry on the CW at the minute, but Ezra Miller is set to depict this iteration of the Scarlett Speedster in a big screen release slated for 2017. Judging by the precedent established on Arrow, we may well see Barry bite the bullet before the end of the third season – perhaps even as early as the midseason finale.
You’d think, of course, that this is impossible; after all, he is the main character of the show. Interestingly though, that may not be entirely the case.
In the comics that the show has spawned from, the Flash is a legacy character; a mantle inherited by many different people. Barry Allen is one of the most well-known, yes, but far from the only – and this year, we’ve been introduced to television versions of two other individuals who have been the Flash: Jay Garrick and Wally West.
Notably, Barry Allen was, for quite some time, known as a character who died; in 1985, Barry was killed during the Crisis on Infinite Earths plotline, and the role of the Flash was taken on by Wally West. Barry remained dead for twenty five years – a record time for a comic book character.
It’s possible, then, that this is a storyline they’d choose to adapt for the third season of The Flash; with the movie outing being released in 2017, the midseason finale of series 3 and last episode of 2016 may well be the last time we see Grant Gustin as Barry Allen.
As much as I love Grant Gustin’s portrayal of Barry Allen, and as silly as I think the Warner Bros embargo is, I can’t deny that there’s a potential for this to be a really compelling storyline; it’d be one hell of a cliffhanger to see Barry die before the midseason break, and watching Wally grow into his role as a hero could make for some engaging drama.
This is, obviously, just speculation; there’s not been anything confirmed one way or another. Certainly, if this is going to happen, it’ll be a long time before we know – hopefully it could be kept as a surprise until the moment in question.
For now, though, we can simply enjoy Grant Gustin’s brilliant portrayal of Barry Allen, and count ourselves as lucky that it’s something we get to watch each week.