SUPERHEROES have had to wait a long time before they received the televisual treatment they deserved.
Early TV and cinematic versions of The Hulk, Spider-Man and Captain America were embarrassments to audiences, with feeble to non-existent special effects and rubbery props failing to do the source material justice.
Captain America’s mighty shield resembled an overgrown Frisbee, rather than a superhard weapon made out of vibranium that could knock you out – while Spider-Man was plain ridiculous pretending to climb walls in ultra-tight spandex.
And The Incredible Hulk? Its only saving grace was Lou Ferrigno ripping out of his clothes as he transformed from mild-mannered Bruce Banner into a giant green rage monster each episode … that was the visual gift that just kept on giving. (Incidentally, I once met gentle giant Ferrigno in the flesh, interviewed him … and hugged him. But that’s another story.)
Only 1974’s Wonder Woman resisted the trend. The TV show was just plain fun. There’s something so appealing about Lynda Carter’s heroine – complete with spinning costume transformation and bullet-proof wristbands – that I can’t see any modern version being so groovy and iconic. Or that Gal Gadot can successfully fill Carter’s red boots. Sorry.
The Flash is a comic-book character even older than Captain America, first appearing in print one year before Cap in 1940.
Fortunately, the time has come for a Flash TV show … or, shall we say, another Flash show after the 1990 version. The Arrow spin-off has been a huge hit with the 18-49-year-old demographic, maintaining audiences and quality over an impressively long 23-episode first season.
Star Grant Gustin nailed The Flash’s appeal during a recent interview. “I feel so lucky to be on a show that has some of — if not the — best special effects that have ever been on television, really smart writing and really good characters,” he said. “We make people cry and have them laughing one second later.”
So The Flash has the holy trinity of great SFX (much needed if you want to credibly depict super-speed on screen), great writing and great characters going for it. And it has Gustin, whose built-in fan base as Sebastian from Glee couldn’t have hurt.
And his costume works, too … because that’s part of the battle right there, creating a costume that won’t test the audience’s credibility and interest.
(Am I the only one who hates TV Daredevil’s new costume? I see that as a serious impediment going into season two.)
And like the original Wonder Woman, The Flash is plain fun.
The Flash has a cool power, too. Super speed is one of those to-die-for powers. It’s a young person’s power. It’s a fun superpower. It’s a “zeitgeist-y” power. It’s the type of superpower you could bust out at a party and have everyone go “whoah”. It’s the power you’d want if you didn’t fancy being a giant green rage monster or having super senses at the expense of your eyesight.
Hell, it’s almost an app.
The Flash is a welcome and overdue addition to the pantheon of TV superheroes.
Now if they can only do the same thing for Wonder Woman.
My ebook military thriller, The Spartan, is out now on Amazon.