Arrow and The Flash (2014)


Arrow (2012-    )
The Flash (2014-    )
Type: Spin Off
Group: DC Multiverse: Earth 1

    Wow, I had better watch my step. This crossover deals with shows based on comic books with decades of continuity that I could easily fall into rambling on about. I'm going to try and keep this on topic.

    In 2014 movies and TV shows based on comic books were hot. Marvel comics was in the process of creating movies based on every character imaginable and moving into TV as well. DC was working to play catch up. They were holding back their big names like Batman and Superman for the big screen, only using them on TV in indirect ways (Gotham: Batman before he was Batman. Smallville: Superman before he was Superman). For TV they decided to go with their B characters. (With respect. Great characters.) So in 2012 the CW Netwok debuted Arrow, based on The Green Arrow. DC heroes tended to be lighter and less angsty than Marvel. I think they decided to call the show Arrow instead of Green Arrow both to make it seem a bit grittier and to also try to not put off audience members not into comics.

    The show itself was a bit darker than the comics. Green Arrow was known as a wisecracking adventurer who often used trick arrows that were sometimes goofy. For the show they made Arrow a bit more Batman-ish, a bit more grim. And while he still had trick arrows they kept the sillier ones out.

    Green Arrow was bajillionaire playboy Oliver Queen. His yacht is lost at sea and Oliver is believed dead. In truth he ends up trapped on a deserted island (deserted being a relative term) for five years. While on the island he survives all sorts of adventures which forge him into a different more serious man, incredibly skilled with a bow and arrow. Eventually rescued he returns to his hometown of Starling City where he fights crime as the vigilante Arrow. Again, the name change pulls it a bit away from the comics. In the same vein, instead of wearing a domino mask like in the comics they had him wear face paint similar to a mask.

    But aside from the cosmetic changes, the show was actually more deeply comic booky than many past superhero TV shows. Shows like The Incredible Hulk or Wonder Woman would make use of the titular character while setting aside everything else comic book related. They'd almost never meet comic supervillains or borrow plots from the books. But Arrow saw the value of fully exploiting the resources of the DC Comics universe, using all sorts of characters and plot elements that fans knew and loved. As a comic book fan I can tell you there is nothing better than seeing a comic character appearing live action (or "cartoon action") for the first time.

    By the second season things were going pretty damn well. They were going well enough that I think the powers that be were less worried about people perceiving the show as a superhero show. Not only that, maybe there might even be more room on the CW schedule for another show. Around 8 episodes into season 2 they laid the groundwork for a spin off series starring another DC hero, The Flash.

    In the episode The Scientist, someone breaks into a warehouse owned by Oliver Queen's family. While investigating the break in a young CSI investigator from Central City named Barry Allen shows up unannounced to help out. In the comics Barry Allen is the fastest man alive, the hero known as The Flash. But arriving on Arrow he is still just Barry Allen. They make quite a number of jokes based on who Barry will become: he never gets anywhere on time, always misses trains, and he himself explains he can't dance because he's not very good on his feet.

    They use Barry's time on Arrow to fully set up Barry Allen's backstory. He shows up to help claiming he was investigating similar crimes to the break in back in Central City and that his boss sent him to help. The truth is when he was 11 years old his mother was killed by a mysterious blur and his father was wrongly convicted of the crime. So now whenever he becomes aware of a strange crime that reminds him of what happened to his mother, he checks it out, hoping it might lead him to her killer. In this case, it seemed a single super strong person broke through an impregnable door and carried off a giant piece of equipment singlehanded. Throughout the story they also set up that back in Central City Star Labs is about to start a new particle accelerator.

    At first Oliver Queen does not trust Barry at all. Partly because at the start Barry lies about why he's there. On top of that Barry flirts quite a bit with Oliver's potential love interest (And Team Arrow member) Felicity Smoak. Despite this, Barry sticks around to help Arrow figure out what is going on. In the middle of this they also bring in a bit of the comic book Barry Allen. In the comics before he became The Flash, Barry Allen was a comic book nerd himself. On Arrow they present him as the same sort of fanboy towards Arrow. He knows all about him and criticizes his using face paint instead of a mask. Arrow explains that a mask would interfere with his crime fighting. Barry explains exactly what sort of mask he needs.

    See, I knew I'd get too long winded.

    The story, stretching over two episodes, not only introduced The Flash but is full to the brim with all sorts of comic book elements being introduced. The story serves basically as an origin tale for the villains Deathstroke and Solomon Grundy. As the episode ends Barry heads back to Central City, hoping to arrive in time to see the particle accelerator go online. He arrives in time but ends up unable to get into Star Labs for the big moment. He's at his lab when it goes online... and explodes. He watches the fireball from his window. The skylight to his lab is open, flooding his floor. He is in the process of trying to close the skylight when lightening caused by the Star Lab explosion shoots down and zaps him, knocking him unconscious for months... until the first episode of The Flash.

    Meanwhile, Arrow is opening a present from Barry: a form fitting mask Barry has created for him. Oliver puts in on and all the "he can't be a comic book superhero" bull gets the boot.

    With the premiere of The Flash, the CW fully embraced the idea of letting their superhero shows BE superhero shows. The starting premise was that the super collider explosion caused a large number of people in Central City to gain super powers, including Barry who, duh, gained the power of super speed. The show introduced all sorts of comic book characters and locations. And as with comics, The Flash and Arrow began to do crossover team ups. But that's not all. Before this version of The Flash there was an earlier Flash series. This Flash fully embraced that show. The original Barry Allen/Flash, John Wesley Shipp, was brought on to play Barry Allen's unfairly imprisoned father. On the original show actress Amanda Pays played The Flash's friend Tina McGee. Amanda Pays was brought back to play this show's version of the character. And Mark Hamill was also brought back to play a new version of the villain The Trickster he played on the original show.

    As the show started up I heard a lot of people complaining about it. They didn't think the show quite worked. They didn't know if the show's star Grant Gustin was a good Flash. But my attitude was... just wait. Starting up any show means taking some time to get things right. And with a show like this you have to build up the world of the show before you can really get down to business. And I was right. By the end of the first season people were loving The Flash. The first year the show had a year long very involved plot involving one of Flash's biggest comic book villains trying to destroy The Flash, including going into the past and being the blur who killed his mother.

    Again, I could go on and on with the comic book love Flash, like Arrow, throws out to the fans. But I'll hold back on some of that for my Flash/Supergirl page, a crossover which severely complicates my job of tracking shows sharing a common "world".

Other Arrow Crossover Links
Arrow and Constantine
Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow

Other Flash Crossover Links
The Flash (2014) and The Flash (1990)
The Flash (2014) and Legends of Tomorrow
The Flash (2014) and Supergirl (1990)


Click here to return to main Crossover List

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