This post contains minor spoilers for The Flash movie.
Everyone talks about Batman, Spider-Man, and the X-Men when talking about the great rogues galleries in superhero comics. But the Flash belongs up there with the rest of them. Even before writer Geoff Johns made the Rogues into a sympathetic team of lovable losers during his early 2000s run, Captain Cold, the Pied Piper, and the Weather Wizard were among the most interesting baddies that cape comics had to offer.
So with Barry Allen set to make his big-screen solo (not really solo) movie debut in this year’s The Flash, fans were a little surprised to hear rumors that Dark Flash would be the primary villain, alongside Man of Steel bad guy General Zod. But thanks to a merchandising leak (via The Direct), we now have confirmation that Barry will indeed be fighting a much more intense version of himself in the Dark Flash.
Not to be confused with Black Flash, the speed-force embodiment of death, Dark Flash debuted during the excellent Mark Waid run in the late 90s, when Wally West was the main Flash. The Dark Flash comes from an alternate reality in which Wally failed to save his wife Linda Park, becoming more bitter and violent because of it.
In the comics, Dark Flash simply wore a darker version of the traditional Flash costume, with larger silver lightning bolts and red highlights. But the costume designers for the movie have gone with a decidedly more extreme look than the one from the 90s. With a look that recalls the overly-busy design of the Michael Bay Transformers infected by the Venom symbiote, Dark Flash wears a heavily-textured suit with protruding spikes or tendrils, lending credence to early rumors that the Dark Flash would be decked in Kryptonian metal.
But perhaps the most significant change here is to the Black Flash’s identity. It seems unlikely that the film will introduce Barry’s nephew Wally West into a movie that’s already crowded with other heroes, such as Sasha Calle’s Supergirl and Michael Keaton’s Batman. But an evil version of Barry tracks with the movie’s plot, which draws heavily from the Flashpoint crossover from the comics, in which Barry inadvertently recreated reality after going back in time to save his mother.
Judging from the movie’s trailer and from comments by new DC Studios co-chair James Gunn, this version of Flashpoint will result in not just one or two alternate realities, but in a multiversal adventure across several realities. Thus, it tracks that one of those realities would include a bitter version of Barry, possibly from losing his love interest Iris (Kiersey Clemmons). However, given the more intense look of the movie Dark Flash, this version may have more power and a more devious plot than the bitter Wally seen in the comics.
Will the Dark Flash be able to stand out in a movie poised to transition the DCEU from the Snyderverse to chapter one of Gunn and Safran’s regime, dubbed “Gods and Monsters”? Or will the baddie be overwhelmed by the return of Michael Keaton who is, you may have heard, Batman? We’ll find out when The Flash completes its slow path to theaters June 16, 2023.