13 September 2011

Onscreen History of The Flash (and Other DC Speedsters)

In the past couple of years, the Scarlet Speedster has not slowed down one bit appearing onscreen in numerous places and deserving an updated entry. I thought I would take this update as an opportunity to provide a couple of shout outs to some of DC's other lesser known non-Flash speedster heroes as well. Oh and by the way, Barry Allen has reclaimed his status as DC's premier Flash and Wally West has pretty much disappeared in the new post-Flashpoint DC universe continuity.

The Golden Age Flash, Jay Garrick, made his first appearance in Flash Comics #1 way back in 1940. In 1956, the torch was passed to the Silver Age Flash, Bartholomew "Barry" Allen.

The Scarlet Speedster finally made the transition from the printed page to celluloid during 1967's Superman/Aquaman Hour of Adventure. In fact, he made two debuts in the show.

Barry Allen was a member of the show's Justice League, while Wally West AKA Kid Flash (and eventual just plain old Flash) was a Teen Titan in their respective short segments.

Flash and Kid Flash also appeared together in a Flash segment.

Beginning in 1973, Flash was occasionally spotted zipping (and even flying!?) into the guest role on various incarnations of Super Friends. He got most of his screen time as a full-timer during the Challenge of the Super Friends incarnation, battling nemeses Captain Cold and Gorilla Grodd.

Alas, Mr. The Flash's first live action appearance was as part of the the lineup for the embarrassing 1979 Legends of the Superheroes variety hour. Boy was his face red...

Fortunately, his next live action outing was a bit more respectable. In fact, in 1990 Barry Allen got his own show.

Capitalizing on the huge success of 1989's Batman, DC comics was ready to cash in on other heroes. Like Batman, The Flash was envisioned with a gritty tone, complete with Danny Elfman score. Sadly, the show only lasted a single 22 episode season, but that season gave some memorable air time to Flash's foe Trickster played by Luke Skywalker.

Flash failed to return to the small screen as part of 1997's Justice League of America Pilot. And while once again named Barry, this Flash pretty much had adopted the personality of then Flash (in the comics) Wally West.

However, 1997 wasn't all bad for the fast one as it did see the Flash's glorious showdown with Superman for the title of Fastest Man Alive on Superman: The Animated Series' Speed Demons.

Flash and Superman would reteam in 2001's Justice League series. Now this Flash and the one in Superman were technically supposed to be the same guy, though the personality and voice were changed. In Justice League, Flash was revealed to be none other than red headed Wally West.

One episode (Flash and Substance), set in Flash's own Central City, included a team up of Flash nemeses allowing Mark Hamill to reprise his role as the Trickster.

The episode also offered a glimpse of Jay Garrick's helmet and Kid Flash's costume in the Flash museum hinting that other Flashes existed in this universe.

In another episode, a trip to an alternate reality teamed Flash up with homages to Golden Age Justice Society members including "The Streak."

In the second season finale of Justice League Unlimited, Flash was able to tap into the Speed Force to defeat Brainiac's minions including one inspired by the yellow-clad Flash villain Zoom.

In his spare time, this Flash also crossed over (with the League) to Static Shock to (again) defeat Brainiac.

In 2004, Bart Allen sped through Smallville using various aliases: Barry Allen, Jay Garrick, Wally West. The truth be told, Bart Allen actually assumed the codename Impulse, and not Flash, but we all know who he was supposed to be. In the comics, the character has since assumed and lost the Flash mantle.

In 2005, the Teen Titans episode Lightspeed introduced Wally West AKA Kid Flash to the series - though twin speedsters Mas and Menos were already founding members of the Titans East.

In 2007, an unnamed, but assumed to be Barry Allen, Flash joined forces with Batman, Robin, and the Justice League on The Batman. This Flash saw the likes of the Mirror Master and scary alien invaders.

In 2008, Barry Allen Flash was one of the prominent Justice Leaguers in the Justice League: The New Frontier silver age homage movie. Flash was shown taking down Captain Cold and in the movie's climax was one of the major players in defeating The Center.

Even kid flash got a nod, appearing in a quick pan during the film's epilogue.

In 2009's Batman: The Brave and the Bold episode Trials of the Demon, the original Flash, Jay Garrick, finally made his on screen debut. Flash and Batman teamed up to take down Scarecrow and his hallucinogenic jack o' lanterns.

Though rumors of a Flash film have surfaced over the years, he remains one of the prime candidates for big screen treatment without a movie under his belt or one actively in the works. He has had two recent close calls. In 2007, plans for a solo film hit the fan with the following statement from writer David Goyer:

Well, I've been waiting a few months to relate this news -- but I am sad to say that my version of The Flash is dead at WB. The God's honest truth is that WB and myself simply couldn't agree on what would make for a cool Flash film. I'm quite proud of the screenplay I turned it. I threw my heart into it and I genuinely think it would've been the basis of a ground-breaking film. But as of now, the studio is heading off in a completely different direction. I expect you'll hear of some new developments on that front shortly.

No new developments followed.

2008 saw the Flash actually cast (by the OC's Adam Brody) in the failed Justice League Mortal movie which crumbled apart as quickly as it had come together. But I have to believe its only a matter of time before the fastest man alive gets his day in the spotlight.

UPDATE: 13 SEP 2011

Following the appearance of Jay Garrick, the Golden Age Flash and member of the Justice Society of America on Batman: The Brave and the Bold, other member of the Flash family dropped by. In Requiem for a Scarlet Speedster! Silver Age Flash, Barry Allen and Kid Flash, Wally West teamed up with Jay.

In the episodes, the three speedsters combined efforts (along with a speedster Batman) were needed to defeat the the diabolical Professor Zoom.

In the 2010 direct to video Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths, Flash faced off against his alternate Earth evil Crime Syndicate counterpart, Johnny Quick. Luckily for Flash (though not so much for Johnny), Batman tricked Flash into believing JQ was faster leading to his great misfortune. Though who truly was faster was never established.

Later in 2010, both Flash and Kid Flash appeared in the Young Justice series, though as the "don't call them sidekicks" were the stars of the series, much more focus was given to the brightly clothed Kid Flash Wally West than his mentor.

To help him blend in on covert missions, Wally's suit could change color to a stealthier gray color scheme than his typical hot dog themed yellow and red.

In the episode Downtime of Young Justice, Wally, Barry, and Jay Garrick were all shown relaxing and eating dinner together during some "downtime" between crises. Its rumored that its only a matter of time until we see the Golden Age Flash suit up.

While often thought of as the Flash, the Smallville speedster was in fact Bart Allen AKA Impulse. Though impulse has yet to make an official onscreen appearance, he was animated for a Justice League promo video pitch for the 2000 Justice League animated series which at one point flirted with the idea of including teen sidekicks Robin, Impulse, and Cyborgirl.

During the run of Teen Titans, the Titans East team included the Spanish speaking duo Mas y Menos who only had super speed when touching. Mas y Menos, si podemos.

And lastly, another obscure speedster was introduced in the 1991 episode Twin Streaks of the live action Flash series. This Barry Allen clone, dubbed Pollux, was more Bizarro than Dr. Zoom, being more misguided than evil and also very short lived making just a single appearance anywhere.


  1. Great round-up of the Flash's appearances! I thought you might like to know that there has been some recent movement on the Flash movie. Last month WB announced that Geoff Johns had written a script treatment and will be a producer on the film. Dan Mazeau will be writing the script based on Geoff Johns' treatment.

  2. The "Flash and Substance" episode of JLU also had a Kid Flash statue in the museum.

  3. Everyone, thanks for the feedback!