Did you watch the series premiere of the CW’s Arrow spin-off, The Flash? Of course you did, because duh, it was awesome. But if for some reason, it’s still sitting on your DVR and waiting to be consumed, please read ahead with caution. This post is going to be chock full o’ spoilers – both for the pilot of The Flash and some DC Comics canon as well.
The premiere episode of The Flash accomplished what all superhero stories first set out to achieve – the origin story. For Barry Allen, it’s kind of simple, if you think nuclear physics is simple. The short version is this: Barry watched his mother die by a mysterious glowing light when he was just a child. He was mysteriously transported away from danger, but his father was left at the scene. Dad is currently serving time in prison for the murder of his wife. Barry knows his father didn’t do it, but he has no idea who – or what – did.
In the present day, physicist Harrison Wells is ready to unveil his particle accelerator. Things go great until everything doesn’t and then all of Central City goes kablooey in a big, uh, flash of lightning. Barry gets hit and when he wakes up, he’s suddenly the fastest man alive. Weird, right? But not as weird as what follows.
Harrison Wells himself didn’t fare so well in the explosion – he’s now stuck in a wheelchair. Central City sort of hates him, but he and a small team of lab geeks are doing their best to figure out what happened – what caused the particle accelerator to go all wonky just how bad is the aftermath? Barry isn’t the only guy left with strange powers after the accident, of course, but he’s the only one they have on hand to test. Wells wants to help Barry learn to hone his powers into something good – and he seems like a pretty decent dude until the last five minutes of the episode.
In the final scene, Wells wheels himself into a secret room and then walks – yes, walks – over to a case holding a newspaper dated 2024. “FLASH MISSING: VANISHES IN CRISIS,” the headline reads. This seems to be a nod to the DC Comics story arc, Crisis on Infinite Earths, where Barry Allen actually does die and Wally West takes over as the new Flash. So…does that mean that Barry is going to die? How did Harrison Wells get a newspaper from the future? And hey, how come he can walk?!
Well, this is comic book canon, so you need to suspend your disbelief a little. The thing is, The Flash exists in a world where time travel is like, a real thing. According to an interview with Entertainment Weekly, executive producer Andrew Kreisberg says that time travel is not only possible in this universe, but it’s an important plot point:
“Time travel is going to play a big part in the overall series, but one of the things that we will discover is that time is mutable. As the good Doctor says, time can be rewritten, so not everything you see on the show is necessarily what’s going to come to pass and not necessarily everything that’s happened is fixed.”
So, that tells us a few things. First of all, Harrison Wells isn’t necessarily Harrison Wells – maybe he’s someone from the future? Or the past? And if events are not fixed in time, can we assume that the newspaper headline we see may not ever become reality? I’ve read several theories, including one that says Wells is actually Allen himself – this one is the most interesting to me, but maybe a little too obvious. The thing is, though, that Harrison Wells doesn’t exist in the DC Comics universe. He’s an original character for the CW series…so he could literally be anyone from anywhere.
What do you think – is Harrison Wells a good guy from the future, trying to save the Earth from a horrible crisis, or is he a super villain looking to mold Barry Allen into a weapon to destroy the world?