The cinematic universes for our favourite comic book heroes are continually expanding, and with Arrow now having established itself as superior superhero television over the past couple of years, it’s unsurprising that the popular notion has spread to the small screen.
Enter The Flash. Helped by what was essentially a backdoor pilot in Arrow’s second season, it hits the ground running in what is a very strong start to the series.
What’s perhaps most impressive about this initial hour of The Flash is how confident it is in its tone and identity. More light-hearted and comic book-y than Arrow, where other shows need time to flesh out their characters and plotlines, the efficient script from Greg Berlanti, Andrew Kreisberg and Geoff Johns dives straight in.
In addition to the prerequisite origin story, we get to see Barry coming to terms with his new-found powers, facing off against his first villain, and the quick establishing of key relationships with Iris (Candice Patton), Joe (a smartly cast Jesse L. Martin), and a team of scientists. It’s a lot to pack in but rarely does it feel overstuffed, and having the hero suit up in the first episode is a clear and welcome statement of intent.
If it wasn’t already clear from our previous look at Grant Gustin’s Barry Allen that he had a good handle on the character, the pilot eliminates any lingering doubts. Gustin is an extremely likeable presence throughout, equal parts charming and dorky, while completely embodying the scarlet speedster’s spirit. From the mannerisms to the voiceovers, he’s able to convey the joy of having superpowers. Indeed, the young actor is right up there with Robert Downey Jr. and Andrew Garfield when it comes to inspired superhero casting.
While The Flash does exist in the same universe as Arrow, it will differ from it in that, due to the abilities of its hero, the show will be more fantastical in the villains it chooses and how it depicts Barry’s encounters with them. If the pilot (featuring Weather Wizard) is anything to go by, though, the effects will be more than up to the task; the third act is particularly impressive in this regard.
There are a couple of nits to pick. Although the light tone is welcome, the cheesiness is overplayed at times, a pep talk from a significant character proving especially on-the-nose. Additionally, while having Weather Wizard as The Flash’s first villain is encouraging and the meta-human’s powers are impressively visualised, the character itself is a little underwhelming. Going forward, The Flash will also need to be wary of using the villain-of-the-week formula that characterised the early episodes of Smallville.
Nonetheless, this is a hugely fun and entertaining debut. One can only hope that The Flash has started as it means to go on.
The Flash is available to watch online on NOW TV, as part of a £7.99 monthly subscription – no contract. Sign up before 27th September and new customers will only pay £1 for their first month.
Where can I watch The Flash on pay-per-view VOD?
The Flash is available to watch online on blinkbox, Amazon Instant Video, Google Play and iTunes.