by Elvis Lau
Superman: the ultimate Man of Steel. Batman: the one man reign of terror. You’ve heard all about these heroes, fighting villain after villain to defend humanity. But there’s yet another hero in their league. Most people have seen him race across the pages of a comic book, him fight crime, and save his city. They’ve seen his lightning, his flare. The electricity that surges behind him. It’s all been seen in the comics, and now, he flashes onto the small screen. Launched at the end of 2014, The Flash has made its way into a weekly network television show, airing one-hour episodes every Tuesday on the CW at 8PM (also available on Netflix). As of November 2015, this show has just kicked off its second season, and is growing rapidly in popularity among teenagers. The show’s success can be attributed to three major factors.
Probably the most important factor for the show’s success is the title itself: The Flash. The idea of transforming one of the most iconic comic book superheros from a still medium into an active narrative attracts enormous attention. This transformation is a mammoth task, not only because producing any show is challenging, but because there are high expectations and standards that are placed upon an adaptation. Will the show do the characters justice? Will it follow the comics faithfully or develop its own story? These questions are critical for many viewers, and often times lead to theories on cliffhangers or speculation about future events, which work to build up excitement for the show.
Another reason for The Flash’s success is its occasional crossovers with another superhero show: Arrow. When this occurs, the Flash and Arrow team up together to complete seemingly impossible tasks, like taking on Vandal Savage, an immortal. On top of that, there are frequent references from one show to the other, as both shows take place in nearby cities. Sometimes, characters in Arrow might notice an explosion that occurred in The Flash. Other times, The Flash’s characters encounter some of Arrow’s cast members, such as when the Atom came to rescue the Flash from a metahuman—a human with supernatural abilities. The association between these shows provides fans of both shows continual enjoyment and allow them to develop into routine viewers of both The Flash and Arrow.
A last major cause for the show’s success is the light-hearted mood. While Arrow and other superhero shows are dark and gritty, the Flash gives off a cheerful vibe, often making jokes and cheesy one-liners. While this may feel too tacky to some viewers, the Flash includes just as many action scenes as other shows. The Flash battles with a metahuman or villain on a weekly basis, ranging from the Weather Wizard to the infamous Reverse Flash.
With its action-packed sequences coupled with cheerful dialogue, it’s no wonder that The Flash has garnered so much attention in such a short amount of time. With the appearance of more and more infamous villains in the DC universe, this show will only get better and better.
Another reason for The Flash’s success is the basic theme of the show. As this is about a superhero, there is certain to be displays of superpowers. It is always a pleasure to witness people of supernatural abilities battle with others like them; the animated effects are visually spectacular and really entertaining to watch. In addition, since fight sequences on television are ongoing rather than panel-to-panel, fights are more immersive and in-the-moment. For example, when Grodd–a giant telepathic gorilla supervillain–chokes the Flash, the tension is palpable. Its prolonged grip on the hero creates an atmosphere of dread and anxiety, intensifying the scene.
A last major cause for the show’s success is the main character’s relatability to viewers. Even though the Flash saves Central City from danger on a frequent basis and is looked upon as a guardian of the city, he has a visible human side. Underneath the Flash suit is just a regular boy with regular problems. As his normal self, Barry Allen experiences fatherly problems and dating obstacles, while working as a forensic scientist. Because of these humanly attributes, viewers are able to reflect upon themselves in the form of a fictional character, adding depth into the show.