The Flash - What will Flashpoint look like?

Grant Gustin recently revealed on Twitter that the third season premier of The Flash would be entitled Flashpoint - the name of a fairly well known Flash comic from 2011, confirming suspicions from many that the popular CW show would be adapting the story for their third season.

If you’re not aware of the story, it goes a little like this: having changed time so that his mother never dies - much like at the end of The Flash’s recent season finale - Barry finds himself without his powers in a world on the brink of apocalypse, being torn apart by a war between Aquaman and Wonder Woman. With the help of Batman (who is Thomas, rather than Bruce, Wayne) and Cyborg, Barry is able to regain his powers and put time back on track. It’s a pretty entertaining story; I’d recommend searching out the animated adaptation from a couple of years ago if you’re interested. 

Entertaining though it may be, however, it’s damn near impossible to adapt it completely for The Flash

On a fundamental level, there’s the fact that the original story incorporates a lot of characters that simply aren’t available to use on The Flash - like, for example, Aquaman and Wonder Woman, who are both pretty important to this story. There’s certainly the possibility of substituting in different characters who do currently exist - perhaps the Hawks could take the place of Aquaman and Wonder Woman, for example - but it’s difficult to see this happening.

Perhaps more problematic, though, is the fact that The Flash has been lifting various aspects of the Flashpoint plot for quite a while now. Most recently was an arc during the latter half of the second season where Barry lost his powers, and went to great lengths to get them back again; there’s a very similar, albeit more macabre, sequence in Flashpoint. There’s other examples too, of course, but it certainly presents the danger that to adhere completely to the plot of Flashpoint would leave the episode feeling like something of a “greatest hits” compilation, with lots of aspects having been seen before.

All of which begs the question - just what will Flashpoint look like?

It’s worth considering just what the magnitude of the change to time will be. Though we might initially have expected all the CW DC programs to be affected, it’s certainly beginning to look like the effects will merely be localised to The Flash - disappointing, perhaps, but entirely understandable really. Each show needs to work on its own; while a fairly large contingent of people do watch both The Flash and Arrow, there’s still going to be a number of people who don’t. The need for each show to be relatively standalone is a sensible one, even if it does severely limit the potential of this supposedly-cataclysmic storyline. Interestingly, when asked if Flashpoint would impact Arrow, Stephen Amell did replied “don’t know, could do”, which is… well, to me that reads as saying “no”, essentially, but I guess you’re free to extrapolate from it what you wish.

Similarly, it’s possible that the story could be completed in just the season opener episode - the premier episode of Supergirl has been held back a week, meaning that The Flash will air the first episode of the four CW DC programs. Was this so that the Flashpoint storyline can be resolved early on, without having to deal with the potential impact on the other programs? While it is possible, I must admit that I hope that’s not the case - the storyline feels like one which deserves around three episodes or so to be properly explored and resolved. I doubt very much that we’d see Flashpoint last particularly longer than that, though; it’d need to be resolved for the crossover episodes (expected to be around the 8th episode of the season) and given that the bulk of the story takes place in an alternate timeline, I doubt that much screentime would be dedicated to iterations of characters who “don’t count”, as it were.

So, then what?

A lot of people online seem to expect that Green Arrow would fill the role of Batman in this story, with Robert Queen rather than Oliver; that’s possible, perhaps, particularly given that it wouldn’t require Stephen Amell to stop filming Arrow. Personally, however, I’d prefer it if Colin Donnell was brought in to guest star as an alternate Tommy Merlyn who took up the mantle of the Green Arrow. It’d have a far greater emotional resonance for the audience, I believe, given that we already know and have a connection with Tommy - one we don’t have with Robert Queen, who never really featured in particular depth before.

That, however, feels like the only possible appearance of a character who isn’t from The Flash - though it’d be possible to fill the other roles, like using Ray Palmer as a substitute for Cyborg, it’s seems more likely that the majority of the story will be pretty firmly based in characters from The Flash. After all, when Grant Gustin revealed the show would be doing Flashpoint, he was also pretty unequivocal in pointing out that this would be the show’s own version, not just a simple copy. Certainly it seems likely that the society-on-the-brink-of-collapse aspect will be changed significantly, if not done away with entirely.

I imagine it’s likely that Cisco will have a rather central role - not just because of his status as a fan favourite character, but also the fact that his Vibe powers mean that it’s possible he’d remember the other world. When I first heard the news, I was reminded of this rather touching deleted scene between Barry and Cisco - I expect that this plot element would be brought up again and made a little more integral to the story. As for the rest of the STAR Labs characters, it’s more difficult to say; presumably Tom Cavanagh will be playing “normal” Harrison Wells, who we only saw briefly in the first season, while Barry wouldn’t have anywhere near as close a relationship with Joe or Iris, given he never would have lived with them. Also worthy of consideration is the question of the series villain - even if Flashpoint itself doesn’t last very long, its repercussions surely will, with the overarching Big Bad no doubt having something to do with this storyline.

One fairly substantial change that I’m expecting - and indeed actually welcoming - is a much bigger presence from Barry’s mother. It’s interesting, actually; the Flashpoint story is commonly touted as being very important to Barry’s character, and it’s supposedly predicated upon his relationship with his mother… but when it actually comes down to it, Nora Allen isn’t really in it very much, is she? There’s essentially only one scene in which her and Barry interact with one another in both the comic and the animated special; I’d say it’s almost a guarantee that she’ll have a far more significant role in The Flash’s iteration of the program. That’s rather a good thing, I’d say; to be completely honest, a lot of the emotional storytelling fell a little flat in the original Flashpoint for me, with the whole story feeling just a little more focused on getting to the next cool set piece rather than genuinely exploring what it would mean for Barry to spend a little more time with his mother. Grant Gustin and Michelle Harrison, the actress who plays Nora Allen, established a wonderful rapport in The Runaway Dinosaur (a highlight of S2) and I’m really looking forward to seeing the pair of them playing off of one another on screen again. 

Ultimately, the Flashpoint we see on The Flash is going to have very little in common with the version of the story fans are more familiar with. It’s likely that the only common element preserved is the fact that Barry rescues his mother. Even then, it’s already been done in a fundamentally different way to the original; where the comic positioned Barry saving his mother as a shock reveal to both Barry and the reader, on The Flash this action was a cliffhanger ending. 

However, I’d argue that this perhaps doesn’t matter, because The Flash has picked up on the great, under utilised hook of Flashpoint - just what happens if Barry saves his mother? If he’s given just a little bit more time with her? 

With that in mind, I think we’ve got a lot to look forward to in The Flash Season 3.

Related:

Arrow Season 4 Review

The Flash Season 2 Review

Arrow - The Disturbing Trend of Fridging Female Characters

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