Why “The Flash” is ahead of the curve
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There is an important word in the world of comic books that TV companies are missing in their small screen adaptions of super heroes. It isn’t ‘Ka-pow!’ or ‘Bam!’ or ‘Zap!’ like in Adam West’s adaption of Batman, but it’s close in a way.
It’s the word comic.
Shows like “Arrow,” “Gotham” and “Constantine” take the darkness of their paperbound predecessors to heart but forget that comic books, above all else, make readers smile.
Comic books carry a childlike wonder about them that draws readers back into their pages to lighten the burdens of life.
That makes readers smile. Well, that and humor.
The CW’s “Arrow” has become a hooded version of “The Days of Our Lives” with the ongoing family drama and failed love experiments. This is particularly true with the second season and the latter parts of the current and third season.
FOX’s “Gotham” has a quiet sense of humor befitting the adventurous and yet socially awkward cast of characters of Jim Gordon and Edward Enigma, and brings a little lightheartedness to viewers through the not-yet-teen love struggles of Bruce Wayne, but fails to make us really smile.
NBC’s “Constantine” is a little closer to the mark with funny one-liners and dark comedy, but pales in comparison to the “The Flash.”
Despite dragging the super-speedy Flash through the ringer with his mother being killed, his father being blamed for it and jailed, never getting the girl, and his arch-nemesis being a friend who betrays the Flash’s secret identity, it makes us smile.
The CW show doesn’t take itself too seriously. Barry Allen, Flash’s secret identity, has a supporting cast that provide a spark of laughter and energy making viewers connect with the show’s characters.
The nerdy Allen, a scientific crime scene investigator, is late to everything, which is a nice joke given his speed, but makes us laugh more because of who the character is. Plainly put, he’s dopey. He says all the wrong things at all the wrong times, and everyone loves him for it because that makes him human.
In short “The Flash” has characters that are more real to us despite the far-fetched science fiction and fantasy nature of the show.
That isn’t easy to do.
Allen’s staunch belief in the people around him, moral fiber and desire to help anyone and everyone that he can brings us back to the ‘silver age’ of comics, in the 50s-70s, which is considered by many to have been brought on by The Flash.
There’s no question how heroic the scarlet speedster is. His morals are essentially never really in danger. We always know that in the end, no matter how much he is tempted to use his fantastical powers for personal gain, he will do the right thing.
He’s charming and impossible not to cheer for.
We smile while we watch, and those smiles are something that the other TV adaptions just can’t keep up with.