When CW announced that they were capitalizing off the success of ‘Arrow’ with the spinoff series ‘The Flash,’ people wondered if the scarlet speedster would be able to capture the same magic boasted by the angry archer. But with dual showrunner Greg Berlanti at the helm, I had lots of optimism because his geek cred meant he’d care about the new project. In the end, ‘The Flash’s’ great impressions wouldn’t be so much about the quality of the work, but mostly because all they did was rehash a proven commodity, but with a few tweaks. In other words, you might be Arrow or The Flash if…
1. Both Shows Have Locked In Plot Devices Powering Their First Seasons
‘Arrow’s’ Oliver Queen spends the entire first season taking down the bad guys in his dad’s “gotta catch em all!” list. That gave him a reason to live for about 24 episodes, then they forgot about it. ‘The Flash’ does the same thing – it’s called the particle accelerator. It created a world of “metahumans,” also giving Barry Allen his speed powers. This gives the Flash something to do too – fight BAD metahumans. Once his rogue’s gallery is sufficiently introduced, I’m sure season 2 will have a more creative edge. In fact, there are several subplots preparing us for that already. For instance…
2. Keep Your Frenemies Close
Oliver Queen and Barry Allen both need look no further than arm’s length to battle the worst bff’s ever. Ollie and Slade Wilson were bros until an epic misunderstanding turned them into foes. Beyond the hatred, you know they’d enjoyed beers together at the Regal Beagle on weekends. On top of that, Ollie’s late best friend’s dad is Malcom Merlyn, a cool but maniacal killer who also turns out to be the father of Ollie’s sister Thea. Arrow thought he’d killed Merlyn before, but with this new revelation, it might be tough to try it again, especially since Thea is totally warming up to daddy now. And the Flash? He’s got Dr. Wells, a guide and mentor who has shown us that he’s actually Reverse Flash, aka the guy who killed Barry’s mother years ago. This won’t end well. Trust me, I saw Arrow do it twice.
3. Friends In High Places
One of the worst “coincidences” in the design of these shows is that both heroes have partners wearing blue. Oliver started out being on Det. Lance’s radar, but eventually became pseudo-partners with the man. They’ve worked together a few times to bring down Starling City villains and the bromance will just get stronger as the show progresses. Barry’s association is even closer. Det. Joe West is his adoptive father. He knows Barry is the Flash and collaborates with him constantly on the best ways to deal with the ugly metahuman menace. These friendships easily put both vigilantes above the law.
4. On Heroes And Hot Daughters
In an epic fail of creative design, both cops have cute daughters that act as love interests for the heroes. Though Barry’s love for Iris is unrequited, she’s still an unwilling part of a romantic triangle that, without it she’d have no reason to be on the show. Ollie’s far worse. He’s never truly committed himself to Officer Lance’s daughter Laurel despite all the sex they’ve had. But he had no problem putting on the promise ring for her sister Sara. I love both shows but sorry, making these guys love on the sexy daughters of their cop friends is really uninspired work.
5. Spin Class Is In Session
Above are pictures of DC Comics’ Atom and Firestorm. Both shows are carefully introducing these characters for possible spinoffs, or maybe just to form a loosely connected version of the Justice League down the line. ‘Arrow’ is really taking its time building Ray Palmer into his Atom persona, a hero who can shrink to subatomic size, among other things. ‘The Flash’ has shown us Ronnie Raymond aka Firestorm in a couple cool scenes, but they’re also in no hurry. I don’t mind, I’m digging the build ups. And I think these guys can add some real flavor, with tons of great special effects in tow.
6. Interracial Dating
One wholly admirable element that we see throughout each series is colorless romance. In a world where the ignorant,the hesitant and the racist make too much of a big deal out of skin color, both shows display a complete and utter innocence toward dating outside one’s race. Both Slade and Oliver fall in love with the Asian warrior Shado. Barry Allen’s gaga for Iris, who is black, yet her boyfriend is white. Oliver’s partner John Diggle has a white fiance.’ I applaud the people behind these projects for showing the world how it’s done. Awesome.
7. Quirky Is As Quirky Does
Caitlin and Cisco are Barry’s home team of genius techs. They work with Dr. Wells to help train and study Barry with his powers of super speed. They both deliver their share of nerdy asides. Caitlin seems socially awkward and Cisco has the geeky wisecracks, going so far as to add his own code names to heroes and criminals alike. Put them both together and you have Felicity Smoak – a socially awkward nerd and computer maven who wisecracks her way through Arrow’s missions at HQ. She’s also a hero groupie, crushing hard on Oliver, Barry and Ray. God help her should she meet Ronnie…
8. Daddy Issues
The whole first season of ‘Arrow’ incorporated themes of Oliver Queen’s redemption of his dad, his dad’s corporate and underworld misdealings, his dad’s suicide. It all boiled down to his dad’s notebook full of people who have “failed the city.” As Arrow, Oliver spent the whole year ruthlessly killing them or otherwise bringing them to justice. In season two, there’s literally no sign of all that and he moved on to doing other things. Barry, on the other hand, has a living father. A living father in prison for being accused of killing his wife years ago. Barry’s basically devoted most of his efforts toward finding Reverse Flash, making him pay for his mother’s death, and clearing his father’s name. If ‘Arrow’s’ track record is to be respected, Barry will move on to other things in season 2.
9. No Pain, No Gain
One of the most interesting things about both shows are the workout scenes. I remember years ago, watching ‘Batman: The Animated Series,’ and seeing Bruce Wayne do these advanced sit-ups/crunches while watching TV. It really added to the suspension of disbelief where heroes are concerned. These guys bust their asses to stay in top condition because saving the world is hard and I’m eating donuts as I write this. Oliver Queen’s epic, raw, intense conditioning efforts bring tears to my eyes. I’m crying on my goddam donut. And, of course, Felicity just sits there ogling the fucker like a piece of red steak. Barry’s workouts are a bit more scientific because he’s a case study. But a recent episode saw him speeding around a track while Cisco powered a drone shooting live bullets and rockets at the guy. That’s a “Holy Shit” type of thing if there ever was one. The training scenes are not only incredible, but very very integral.
10. Better Than A Roller Coaster
I have no problem with pointing out the obvious and glaring laziness behind the patterns followed by both shows. But do not get me wrong – each series is an incredible thrill ride. I freakin’ love these characters, the heroes, and how the creators fully respect the history and canon of comic book storylines. Sure, they’ll deviate from what us die hard geeks know and remember reading, but it’s never too far from home (unlike the new Fantastic Four movie coming out.) In taking on the difficult task of producing superhero television, the minds behind the productions have handled my beloved heroes with exceptional care. The effects are top tier; the stories are narrative and often strong – and all on a television budget. Sure, I can bitch about the weird and abrupt blowing off of Diggle’s girlfriend/ex-sister-in-law. And the first couple of Flash’s bad guys were weakly written. No show besides ‘Breaking Bad’ is perfect. And these two are damn sure flawed, hence this list.
I could go on. I could bring up the fact that both ‘Arrow’ and ‘The Flash’ open with narration from the hero, explaining their origins over action scenes. I would be well within my rights to point a finger at how both heroes keep their super suits in glass cases at their respective HQ’s. But whatever, because nobody does a “12 Ways” list.