The Flash, Ep. 1.01, “City of Heroes” is fantastic right out of the gate

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The Flash Season 1, Episode 1 ‘City of Heroes’
Written by Greg Berlanti, Geoff Johns, and Andrew Kreisberg
Directed by David Nutter
Airs Wednesday at 8pm ET on The CW

There are two very important aspects of The Flash that need that to be addressed. The first is that back in 2012 it took Arrow some time to find its voice before it finally became a great comic book show. Arrow producers Greg Berlanti, Andrew Kreisberg, are joined by famed comic book writer Geoff Johns for the spinoff and what is most apparent in ‘City of Heroes’ is that The Flash hits the ground running (overused pun very much intended) right out of the gate.

The other very notable thing is that out of the slew of comic book shows on TV is that The Flash is the first full fledged, super powered, colorful costumed superhero show and, if this first episode is any indication, it is the most fun and faithful to the source material of them all. Arrow held back until its second season to beginning dabbling in super powered characters and more out there comic booky elements, but The Flash goes all in just the first episode.

It is a classic origin story and many might say that they are over that time old tale, but the acting, the writing, the Easter eggs (Ferris Air and even Grodd!!!), and just about everything is so on point that the show is off to a better start than all of its competition.

Being a spinoff makes it hard not to compare this pilot to Arrow, but thankfully all comparisons are positive. There is a certain aesthetic and tone that Arrow has and The Flash feels very much like it belongs in this previously established universe. The keyword there is “feels” since the show is not a carbon copy and already seems to stand on its own. The key difference is that Barry Allen has fun being The Flash. He isn’t a dark and brooding hero. He’s bright, colorful, and smiling, which is a simple, but highly effective touch.

Grant Gustin as the titular hero remains a charming and insanely likable protagonist. He is incredibly easy to root for and feels like the character that readers have loved since 1956 (he’s always late!). As fun as he is he manages to bring some real weight to important dramatic sequences, particularly in one scene near the end where he visits his father in prison (Henry Allen is played by John Wesley Shipp, who famously played the Flash in the short lived 1990 series). A hero needs friends so the rest of the cast includes Candice Patton as Iris West, Jesse L. Martin as Detective Joe West, Danielle Panabaker as Dr. Caitlin Snow, and Tom Cavanagh as Dr. Harrison Wells. It’s a lot of characters to introduce all at once, but everyone gets a moment and already has very distinct personalities.

The only real minor gripe with ‘City of Heroes’ is that the antagonist, Mark Mardon aka Weather Wizard, is a pretty one-note villain as he is portrayed here. His powers are visually cool, but his motives are not very interesting and his quick decision to switch from bank robber to possible destructor of the city kind of comes out of comes out of left field. Thankfully, the episode is not really about Weather Wizard, so he serves as a decent introductory super villain to set Barry up a hero.

Fans of Arrow should also be smiling throughout a cameo from Stephen Amell in a pivotal scene where Barry seeks guidance. It is nice little moment as they both quietly acknowledge each other’s abilities simply by saying, “cool” and giving a little smirk. DC fans might also be a bit giddy in the final moments when twist, involving Dr. Wells reveals the potential for a “crisis” down the line.

It is fantastic super hero show on par even with some of the great superhero films out there. There are so many possibilities of CW’s ever-expanding DC universe that have the groundwork laid for them here, but the show never loses focus on Barry Allen’s journey. ‘City of Heroes’ is an excellent first outing for CW’s The Flash that should be checked out by all.

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