Another comic book adaptation? I know, I feel you.
With fourteen blockbuster comic book movies coming out over the past three years, we’ve had about enough of the “with great power comes great blah blah blah” speeches to last us a awhile.
And now, as if it wasn’t already hard enough to keep up with the films that Marvel and DC fill the theaters with, new superhero shows are popping up on TV networks around every corner.
Even this fan of comic books and comic book movies alike is getting a little tired.
The DC-based Gotham is good, but the whole batcowl-based franchise is getting pretty tired. And Marvel’s Agents of Shield is a caricature of the comic book genre with an overly exclusive, fan-club feel to it.
Nothing has really stood out…until now.
Of all the superhero premieres this fall, The Flash has by far been the most enjoyable to watch.
Adopting the comedic edge that draws people to Marvel films while staying true to DC’s ultra-realism, The Flash – a spinoff of the existing show Arrow – is a hybrid that might just be able to pull ahead of the rest in a saturated genre.
It’s a nice happy medium between the ever-competing comic book Kings. And while Marvel’s candy-coated films clog the box office, with Arrow in its third season, The Flash as the CW’s highest rated premiere in five years, and Gotham remaining the most talked about show last week, the DC universe has found a place to shine on the small screen.
Marvel is kind of like a casual hookup whereas DC is marriage-material. Marvel is a fun time, and always has a pretty face. DC, however, seduces you with stories that register for a lifetime.
Don’t get me wrong, this opinion comes from a Marvel junkie. They created an interweaving web of movies that brought the cross-universe tradition of comic books to a new level. And details like end-of-the-credits scenes have become pop-culture staples and engaged audiences on a mass scale.
Marvel films are entertaining, and that’s about it. Their back-to-back success mainly lies in the fact that they threw a bunch of films at us until they discovered the formula that would earn them momentary critical praise and money from fans. And they’ve stuck to that same formula ever since.
Guardians of the Galaxy, for example, was essentially just the outlaw Avengers, relying on many of the same tropes and similar story structure.
DC actually tries to do something new, putting an ultra-modern spin into their work and adding a shade of darkness. While they’re not always hits – most recently with Man of Steel falling short of the bar set by its Dark Knight predecessors – DC films don’t just settle for the critical pat on the back that Marvel films do. Releases like The Dark Knight trilogy or V for Vendetta not only contended for best feature – they set a new standard for comic book films.
This difference in quality became strikingly clear when brought down to size on the small screen. The hulk-size ego that makes them a rockstar at Comic Con doesn’t translate so cutely to primetime. Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD was essentially a glorified fan-fiction, leaning on cameos, easter eggs and the equivalent of inside jokes that appealed to their narrow audience.
But, that’s where The Flash comes in.
Much like Agents of SHIELD is a spinoff of The Avengers, DC’s latest TV creation is a spinoff of the existing DC-based show, Arrow. But that’s where the parallels end. Contrary to Agents of SHIELD, The Flash doesn’t rely on cameos and easter eggs that leave non-Arrow fans lost. And rather than seeming like a spinoff that serves only to boost its parent show, it comes off as a show that will be able to just as easily stand on its own.
The Flash has the vibe and potential to be the next Smallville – a crossover, millenial-take on superheroes that takes itself just seriously enough to be believable.
Combine that with flashy (ha) film-quality special effects, a cinematic soundtrack, and strong performances, and it has some real potential.
Where shows like Gotham teeter between comic book campiness and cop drama seriousness, The Flash is a balanced, approachable, and entertaining show that will satisfy comic book lovers and comic book movie-lovers alike.
It’s certainly not perfect, but it’s definitely not a flash in the pan either.
Catch The Flash at 7 CT on the CW
(Featured photo courtesy of hollywoodreporter)