So, The Flash Season 3 is going to be pretty different. Barry Allen changed the timeline at the end of season two, and it’s going to have a massive ripple effect in season three. The big question is, how much different? And while we’re at it, how different are things going to get for other CW superhero shows like Supergirl, Arrow, or Legends of Tomorrow?
In case you’re not sure where this is going, the trailer for The Flash Season 3 should help give you a better idea of why Flashpoint is such an exciting, and potentially confusing, concept.
I’ve already speculated at length on the broader context of Flashpoint, but while at SDCC, I joined a number of other journalists for roundtable interviews with cast and crew from The Flash and other shows in the CW stable. Here’s what they told us…
Don’t expect a straight adaptation of the comic or the animated movie.
While both the comics and The Flashpoint Paradox animated movie are both touchstones for the “Flashpoint” of the TV series, there are obviously a number of things that simply can’t be done on TV. But there are similarities, too.
“Barry’s parents are alive. Nora and Henry are obviously alive, which is the reason this was done,” Flash star Grant Gustin said. “It is very much its own thing, though. One of the first things I did when I was first cast was watch Flashpoint Paradox because everyone talked about it. So I knew what the storyline was before I got our script, and it’s pretty different.”
“Any of those moments from the comics, you want to make sure that you do them right,” executive producer Todd Helbing said. “The way we approach all these stories is that we know what happened in the comics, but we take that event and run it through The Flash television show filter so we can tell the same story but with our spin. It was challenging, but it wasn’t impossible.”
“They’re taking their own spin on Flashpoint,” Keiynan Lonsdale, who plays Wally West (and now Kid Flash) said. “The main thing it affects is Kid Flash, so I was excited about that. For Wally, he is finally in this place where he’s settled and feels worth it and he is completely ecstatic about being who he is. He gets to help people, and this is what he knows and what he loves to do. It was fun to get to play Wally being completely confident with himself.”
As for how else it might differ from the source material? “Obviously we can’t have Superman or Batman or Wonder Woman running around in the first episode, I wish we could, but apparently we can’t,” Grant Gustin said. “They do a good job of throwing little nods to The Flashpoint Paradox and the comics by using characters that have existed on the show for the first two years and the things that are changed now were done pretty well as far as what has existed for the past two years and it’s parallel to the comics, but very much its own thing.”
“I think there’s a long list of people and characters that we would want to use,” Todd Helbing said, “but there are realities of who we can and can’t use. We work very closely with DC and [DC Entertainment President] Geoff Johns and it’s kind of like ‘what can we use in this version’ and then they tell us and that’s it.”
The Audience Will Learn About Flashpoint as Barry Does
We’re used to knowing a little bit more about what’s going on than the characters on the show, but Barry will serve as our POV character in the new Flashpoint reality.
“You’re asking the audience in the first episode to experience a different reality,” Todd Helbing said. “We always approach it like ‘would our mother understand what was going on right now?’ but she doesn’t read comics. If she would [understand], I feel like we’ve been successful.”
“You’re kind of being taken for a whirlwind,” Keiynan Lonsdale says, “because along with Barry, the audience won’t really understand what it is and you’ll have to catch up quite quickly to adjust to this new world. But they’re dramatic changes.”
Speaking of those dramatic changes…
New World, New Relationships
Who is that handsome man? Why, it’s Cisco, who has swapped his trademark awesome t-shirts for, well…this.
“Viewers can expect a completely different version of Cisco to emanate from Flashpoint,” Carlos Valdes said. “It’s a different world with different relationships and different dynamics than we’ve been exploring. It’s a lot of fun.”
The trailer hinted at a rather different Joe West than we’ve been accustomed to, as well. “I’m totally still a cop in Flashpoint,” Jesse L. Martin said, “but his idea of what good cop work is is completely altered, his relationship with Barry is completely the opposite. Some of the characters that Joe knew as team Flash he doesn’t even know.”
Barry has two sets of memories.
“Barry knows what the other timeline was, so you see him with this absolute appreciation for the fact that both of his parents are alive and he’s living with them,” Grant Gustin told us. There’s a fun spin on this, though. “They don’t know that the timeline is different and they’re like, trying to get him to move out because he’s 27 years old. He just wants to live with them because he hasn’t had them for all these years.”
“He’s the only one that knows about the other timeline, but he does start to forget,” Mr. Gustin said. “All of his memories are changing. He starts to get memories in Flashpoint with his parents that he’s never had. They’re brand new memories but they’re replacing things that he had with his West family.” This is a concept that should sound pretty familiar to readers of the comics or anyone who has seen The Flashpoint Paradox animated film, and it will put a ticking clock on how long he can stay here before he forgets things were every different.
There will also be two villains.
The trailer reveals that, as it should be with Flashpoint, Eobard Thawne, the Reverse-Flash is responsible for at least some of Barry’s woes. But he won’t be the only major villain this season. “There’s going to be two big bads,” Executive producer Aaron Helbing said. “One will be a speedster and one will be another metahuman and they’re both very formidable.”
I think I’ve figured out who the other one is, and I have more about that right here.
Flashpoint affects all of the other CW superhero shows.
Grant Gustin didn’t have many details, but he made it clear that Flashpoint will have an impact on other shows in the CW superhero universe. “I don’t know how it’s affecting Legends or Supergirl,” he said. “I know one thing on Arrow that is being affected directly.”
Arrow star Stephen Amell shed a little light on this, as well. But only a little. “It is explained in the early part of the season,” Mr. Amell said, “not necessarily on our show, and then we subtly begin to introduce it. And then maybe not so subtly.”
Supergirl executive producer Sarah Schechter offered a rather cryptic, “We still have to explain the universe changes, which we do.” Take that as you will.
Well…most of the other superhero shows.
Okay, well, maybe Legends of Tomorrow will have a little less to do with Flashpoint than the others. But that makes sense considering how much of the show is spent adrift in time.
“The nice thing about our show is that it is fairly uncoupled,” Legends of Tomorrow executive producer Phil Klemmer said. “We go back and change things. We’re going back tens of millions of years in the first episode. We can sort of skip around willy-nilly. It only matters to us when we check back in.”
“Can you imagine, the show is already complicated with our own characters changing time and now Barry has changed time, too,” Marc Guggenheim said. “At a point where we’re trying to kind of relaunch the show and do a soft reboot of the show to have to deal with another show’s plotline, I think it would all crumble under its own weight. You’re going to get a connection with Flash later on in the season, but it would be different if everything has changed because of Flashpoint.”
It’s More Than One Episode
“Flashpoint has an effect throughout the entire season,” Candice Patton said. “I won’t say how long Flashpoint is. Barry going back in time and creating a flashpoint definitely has an effect throughout the entire season.”
So, if Flashpoint has an effect on other shows, and it’s more than one episode, I have to wonder if the big crossover between all four shows will be a result of Barry trying to correct the timeline. And with those “universe changes” that Sarah Schechter mentioned above, perhaps the end point of this is a timeline so altered that Supergirl now exists in the same reality as the other CW shows. It’s a long shot, but if betting on this is wrong, then I don’t want to be right.
There are lots of other speedsters running around.
“There are four others (speedsters) other than me,” Grant Gustin said, “and we’re in the middle of our second episode.” So, let’s do some quick math with this. We’ve got Kid Flash, the mysterious (and presumably villainous) speedster in black, and Reverse-Flash all visible in the trailer. That’s three. The third one? Based on another comment Mr. Gustin made, it sounds like Jay Garrick.
“He will get some life lessons from another speedster, who’s going to give him some ‘maybe don’t do this shit’ kind of advice.” Mr. Gustin said in reference to a question about the problems with changing the timeline. That sounds like the kind of fatherly advice we’d expect from Jay Garrick. More John Wesley Shipp as the original Flash can only be a good thing.
It sounds like Kid Flash is fairly well established in this world, too. “CCPD is well aware that there’s a Flash out there and he fights crime and he helps us,” Jesse L. Martin said. “But the dynamic between CCPD and Kid Flash is completely different. We don’t necessarily have a relationship with Kid Flash, we just know that he’s out there fighting on our behalf. He’s almost like a vigilante hero.”
We’ll find out more when The Flash season 3 premieres on October 4th at 8 pm!