It may seem corny to say that The Flash ‘hit the ground running’ with its pilot episode — but, in all honesty, that is the best way to describe “City of Heroes”. The first episode of the expanded CW DC Universe delivers a lighter tone than it’s counterpart, Arrow, keeping true to its comic book roots. While the villain, the Weather Wizard, may have been somewhat underdeveloped and cast to the side, the overall plot and above average acting, combined with plenty of easter eggs to get those familiar with the comics giddy, proved to deliver the best comic book based series pilot to date.
The Acting – Whenever I sit down to watch a show on the CW Network, I try to allow myself to look passed the acting, but this was no the case for The Flash. All characters brought their A games for the pilot episode and each brought something different as well. They did a good job with beginning to set up some of the supporting character arcs, including Dr. Caitlin Snow and Harrison Wells, and unlike Arrow, the acting didn’t seem “soapy” or over-dramatic in any way. Grant Gustin’s portrayal of the protagonist is fun and quirky, yet believably serious when need be — in direct opposition to Stephen Amell’s portrayal of Oliver Queen in Arrow and that’s why it’s so satisfying and should set up for some fun scenes between the two during the crossovers.
Det. Joe West – Jesse L. Martin’s portrayal of Barry’s surrogate father/friend was my favorite of the episode. While all of the acting exceeded expectations, Martin’s performance was the most noticeable and brought a similar dynamic to the show that Paul Blackthorne brings to Arrow — only, instead of having a deep hatred for the protagonist, he loves him like a son. Like Blackthorne’s Det. Lance, I think that Det. West will become a series favorite rather quickly — and here’s hoping for a Det. Lance/ Det. West team up during one of the crossovers!
Comic Book Tone – Right off the bat, the writers have shown us that they are willing to, not only stay true to the comics, but also create a different mood than we’re used to seeing from DC as of late. Most of the supporting cast are characters from the comic book world and the overall tone of the show is much lighter and fun than that of Arrow and Fox’s Gotham, keeping true to Barry, whom, in no interpretation, is dark and/or brooding. In this way, The Flash brings a unique and fun dynamic to viewers.
Special Effects – When I first learned they were going to take on The Flash my main concern was how it was going to look when he was running at such high speeds, and, under the assumption that there would be more meta-humans, how the overall special effects would look for the series. I have to say that I was greatly surprised while watching this episode. The effects rift the show’s mood and really looked impressive, especially compared to a certain primetime show on one of the major networks, ABC…
Dr. Harrison Wells/Cliffhanger – Tom Cavanagh delivered a solid performance as the disgraced STAR Labs doctor. The multifaceted character delivered our first big twist to the show when he stood up from his wheelchair and unveiled a digital newspaper from ten years in the future with the headline reading “Flash Missing, Vanishing in Crisis” with a smaller paragraph on the bottom left reading “Wayne Tech./Queen Inc. Merger Complete”. Time travel is rather significant in The Flash’s mythos, so it was safe to assume that it would show up in some capacity in the show, apparently it will play a major role down the line. The second headline, though, is extremely intriguing as it introduces Bruce Wayne/Batman into the universe.
Sharpshooting – Det. West must be some shot. He hit Clyde Mardon with a kill shot in the chest from like ninety yards away while running…with a pistol.
Underdeveloped Villain – This may not remain in “The Bad” if the show clarifies that Clyde Mardon’s brother survived the plane crash and developed similar powers making him the true Weather Wizard somewhere down the line. But, if Clyde was the Weather Wizard, then it would seem that they did not do the villain much justice, and understandably so, the pilot episode is mainly supposed to introduce and set up the plot for the protagonist.
Predictability – With so many characters being adapted from the comics, it may be easy for some fans to predict which direction the show plans to take. For some, that may not be a problem, but overall I think it would behoove the writers to throw some curveballs in there, while maintaining their loyalty to the source material. (A curveball like Barry kissing Felicity in the promo for episode two…)
The Friend Zone – Wow…some of that was just downright painful. A guest appearance by John Wesley Shipp as Henry Allen. Some of you “might” remember Shipp from the first live-action Flash series way back in 1990.
The Crossover – While I enjoyed seeing Arrow star Stephen Amell as Oliver Queen/The Arrow in the pilot episode, as this show’s existence has much to do with his success on his own show, I felt as if I was watching Batman speak with Superman rather than Green Arrow with The Flash. The Arrow does not cleanse Starling City through fear, as Batman does Gotham, there is no reason why he would need to operate out of the shadows while Barry can become some beacon of hope. In fact, he is already starting to get the trust of the police force. This is usually reserved as the main dynamic between Batman and Superman, and I’m sure we’ll see it in the new cinematic universe. The creators need to trust the universe that they have built and stop relying on characterization of the big two.