EDITORIAL: My Thoughts On How To Bring THE FLASH To The Big Screen
There have been numerous attempts at bringing him to life over the past years, all of them fell through. The Flash has a great history to draw from and is one of the most iconic and immediately identifiable characters in the pantheon of superheroes, but what is the best way to handle a big screen adaptation?
SO WHY DO A FLASH MOVIE?
I think we can all agree, it's high time a Flash movie is made. The recent comic series has been excellent and a success, the character has appeared in several animated features, there's even a new tv show on the way. There have been numerous attempts at bringing the character to life over the past years, all of them fell through. The toys are already there to play with; The Flash has a great history to draw from and is one of the most iconic and immediately identifiable characters in the pantheon of superheroes.
Visually, he has one of the best costume designs of all time; since its inception in 1956, his red suit and gold lightning symbol have went through very few changes that are only noticeable to longtime fans. The Flash is an all around great character, he's a "Superman" type hero with "Batman" type villains. The Flash's heroics should be epic and great, and his villains should be twisted and weird. There's a lot of potential for interesting stories there. What The Flash needs is a good character driven script, along with a great costume, cast, and director, and he does not deserve any less.
THE SCRIPT, WORLD, AND TONE
If the script is NOT good, the whole thing will be crap, and whoever directs it must have a good sense of storytelling and scope. We have seen plenty of other comic book characters brought to life, and waited in anticipation of them for years, and when the final product shows up it is a disappointment, not just as a film and critically, but also financially. Often times, in recent history particularly, the best, highest grossing films often are the ones that have been truest to the source material, AND critically successful to boot. That should come as no surprise to filmmakers, so with that in mind, I would like to submit a few ideas in regard to making THE FLASH.
The Flash has historically been one of the more "light-hearted" characters in comics, but that does not by any means mean that film should be a joke or a comedy. Whoever plays The Flash needs to be someone people can take SERIOUSLY first, and THEN believable when delivering a joke. I think that was part of the problem with Ryan Reynolds as Green Lantern, he is not taken seriously by a lot of people due to the type of characters he's known for playing. The Flash cannot be like that.
The film needs to tell the story of how Barry Allen became The Flash and establish who the character is to people, what he can do, what his personal life is, all the basics of The Flash need to be established here. They need to tell the best story they can tell, and by doing that the groundwork will have already been laid for future films. The film should be a combination of Back to the Future meets Iron Man/Spider-Man meets CSI. A pretty wild ride.
While the film should have an overall "serious" tone, that does not mean it should be mundane and "gritty/trying-too-hard-to-be-in-the-real-world", they need to keep The Flash in his world WHILE making it believable and transporting the audience there. The makers need to work with the STRENGTHS of the character, NOT against them. The Flash's Central City should not look like some generic city backdrop, it should not be New York City, but you should still be able to look at the city and think that it COULD be a real place, like you know it exists but are just unsure how to get to it. The city and sets need to be as interesting and exclusive as the character to the film and "personalized"; you HAVEN'T seen CENTRAL CITY in a movie before. It does not need to be a Tim Burton creation or a "period piece", but they need to establish that this is a city on the go, always on the move, and on the cutting edge of things. Central City never slows down. Maybe mention the "infamous bridge to nowhere", one of the city's oldest bridges that runs out about 2,000 feet and then stops, in the "lower class" section of the city (which will be touched on in sequels as leading to the hidden Keystone City). Give the sets/background CHARACTER is what I'm saying.
THE MAIN CHARACTER - BARRY ALLEN aka THE FLASH
Begin with Barry Allen, a 24 year old (maybe older but no younger than 24) graduate with a major in organic chemistry and a minor in criminology, getting his job at Central City Police Department, a job he sort of stumbled onto that he was qualified for when looking for work. Barry is a good guy, a sort of everyman, guy-next-door type. The most down to earth person in the DCU, and he has a good sense of morality thanks to his parents being good natured Iowa folk. Something he will have always been curious about is a "tachyon theory", faster than light particles that move so fast they are actually moving backwards through time (which is tied together in Barry becoming The Flash, as we find out one day (maybe the end of the trilogy) that Barry IS the lightning bolt that hit himself, which maybe explains the "completeness" he feels as The Flash, hence the white circle behind the lightning in The Flash symbol he wears (not unlike scientology.. I kid haha, the "theory" is proved true and by none other than Barry Allen himself in a quite literal sense one day)), this is maybe alluded to in a few bits of dialogue. Barry Allen is late for everything and "slow", not in wit or intellect, but rather "distracted"; he's not REALLY "slow", he just gets caught up in other things and always ends up being late. The journey getting to wherever it is he's going is more important than the actual destination to him a lot of times, unlike everyone else in Central City who is always in a rush and more "go getter-ish". This is a chronic problem for him in his personal life. BARRY ALLEN IS ALWAYS, ALWAYS LATE. Even when he is certain he ISN'T going to be. Barry is pretty laid back and easy going, but very bright, and a hard worker, and when he commits to something it will get done, no matter how long it takes. It's not always about being first for him but crossing the finish line. The Flash/Barry Allen is a character all about speed, speed and its related forms. Barry Allen becomes FAST because he is SLOW. Barry is unique among superheroes because he is the only major DC character to have his powers because of his flaw - he's always late/"slow".
Barry Allen is not taken seriously by some of the "tough guy", hardass cops who see him as a science nerd. What does he know about the streets? Even if he is a vital part of their job working in the evidence room, the cops think he lives there, and it doesn't help his case that he is last to arrive and last to leave everyday, BUT he does good work, which is why he still has the job.
His first case in the lab is one that involves a murder with a mirror where he's being counted on to provide evidence to convict small time crook Sam Scudder (who we will get to in a moment), a trial is wanted ASAP for him and there's a short deadline. Barry ends up extracting the evidence to put Scudder away, and it is through this he meets Iris West, a reporter covering the story, who comes to him for questions. As it turns out they both met each other before but were never "officially" aquainted, the two "met" in college briefly in a rather embarrassing moment where Barry bumps into her on the way to a class he was late for a couple years back and drops his books, so Iris asks if she knows him from somewhere, there's a brief flashback on Barry's part "Nope, pretty sure we've never met", and then they proceed to talk business. There is a mutual, quiet attraction between the two, but that is not given much time to blossom thanks to hotshot Detective Russo, who sweeps Iris away right under Barry's nose and tries to set up a date to go out with her (or just down her pants, as Russo is a "macho" type and somewhat of a horndog). He tells Barry he'll need the lab results on his desk in the morning and to "pick up the pace".
Anyway, because of the Scudder case being fast tracked to put him away, there is a ton of work that was put on hold temporarily in order to divert all efforts toward convicting Scudder that now needs to be done, Barry is commended for his work on Scudder by his boss, Captain Darryl Frye, but is disciplined for his tardiness/lateness, Frye warns him that there are people who will do his job AND be on time, and asks Barry to stay later that night and finish his work because of his late arrival and the heavy workload. It is this night Barry is hit by lightning and the accident that gives him super speed occurs (this is where fast because he is slow comes in, Barry Allen is the only major DC Comic characters to not only have his powers from an ACCIDENT but also because of his one, major FLAW; the man is always late). (Or they could give him the powers/accident prior to Scudder's case being solved and meeting Iris West, I just wrote it that way just to get the idea out there)
(^^ Would also make a great poster for a movie)
Barry knows something has changed with him and that he should probably be dead, he uses his super speed in small doses at first and documents what's happening with himself as he's been taught with chemistry and criminology, plus being the slightly "methodic" person he is.
The first time Barry uses his powers to actually help someone it's to save Iris, who is reporting at a burning building in Central City where there are terrorists involved, a terrorist grabs Iris right in front of the camera and takes her hostage with a gun to her head. Meanwhile Barry, Russo, and Captain Frye, are watching. Russo and Frye take off (or maybe Frye is already there as this is a big deal...rarely does the media get to a hostage situation before the cops so maybe we want to rethink that a bit), anyway, bottom line, Russo takes off to be the "big hero", and Barry is told he's too slow even if he were a "real" cop and to stay put. After they've left Barry slips out in his civilian clothes at super speed, he's never REALLY tested how fast he is yet, as he has only had his powers for 2 or 3 days. Anyway, his clothes burn off at the high speeds and anything left on him burns out in the fire (he's literally "The Flash", and he has not yet discovered his ability to vibrate his molecules at super speed which allows him to pass through solid objects). He has to keep moving for two reasons, so he isn't burnt and so people don't see him. Except for maybe running there, most of this scene is shot from the thugs point of view, Barry runs up the side of the burning building, dodges some bullets, and pulls Iris out and the few people left inside before it collapses. He then creates a suction of wind with his speed to smother the flames. People think he is an angel or a blur, some people have motion sickness and are not sure what happened but they are just happy to be alive. Barry escapes and thinks he's got to rethink the powers thing and next time maybe wear something that WON'T burn off him when he runs. (I almost thought The Flash name should be coined as a joke but that may be going a bit too far on the "nude Barry" scene).
What the movie needs to establish is WHY he wears a red suit, without it taking up the entire film, as the audience already knows/expects him to be in the suit, get from point A to point B, but the in-between has to be good.
At first Barry has no intentions of being a superhero. He ends up wearing a super hero style "special" suit because (although not the complete suit yet) his ordinary clothes, which are loose fitting, burn and tear when he runs, they aren't protected by the aura around his body that shield him from friction. And the other reason is he likes comic books/superheroes, so the suit is sort of a fun thing to him. It's not that far fetched an idea, really. Look at our rock stars and things. People DO wear "eccentric/outlandish" outfits in real life, so I think this is somewhat plausible.
Maybe one day, Barry ends up stopping one random crime he notices, and it's not like doing this takes up his whole day or the most of his time now. He has ALL THE TIME IN THE WORLD as The Flash. All this escalates, one thing leads to another, next thing he knows he's now got a complete costume and is listening to a police scanner (which he builds into his ear-piece) and is somewhat of a hometown hero, a celebrity, the city has a fascination with him but the police would like to know who - or what, he is. Eventually Iris West will get the first tv interview with The Flash, which will be brief, but funny, and show what a down to earth guy he is.
Also, as The Flash, Barry is his own enemy in a way from a "business" perspective; Barry's day job revolves around him essentially picking up the pieces of crime's aftermath, being the "cleanup" guy in a way, as The Flash, now he is able to stop them before they happen IF he is fast enough. Like imagine a scene or a day or an hour when Barry heads into work to find that there's nothing for him to do except try to piece together who The Flash is...and he just sort of sits there and scratches his head like "Well [frick] me..." . A scene like that would work well in the movie, I think.
BRINGING THE FLASH SUIT TO LIFE
A couple ideas for the suit include, and most obviously, that he wears the suit because it is the only thing he can wear that won't tear, a special type of "unstable" material, maybe he came up with it in college. He wears a sleek, streamlined suit because his body's protective aura will protect it better that way, so maybe the suit is special but isn't THAT special as his "aura" protects it. The Flash also has a police scanner synced into his ear piece that he can pick up only when he is moving at low speeds, there needs to be an explanation for how he gets that device in there and how it doesn't get destroyed when he runs.
Another way to do the suit, and a rather "cheap" one at that, is to have the suit made up of energy and that The Flash outfit is the form it takes, kind of flimsy in a way (and maybe too much like Green Lantern?) but he puts the police scanner device in the ear piece. I'm hoping we can do a little better than that though. Open to some ideas on this one. Of course the other obvious "easy" way is to just do the suit and accept it for what it is, sort of like in Spider-Man where they never show him making the new suit, it just appears. Basically, we want to come up with a clever reason for WHY he wears the suit and do it quickly but satisfyingly.
The strongest idea though, as of right now I think, is that he wears it to be an actual "superhero" or "public figure", inspired by comic books, like he did in the original story. Like it's his public persona and keeps his identity a secret since he likes his job in the lab and makes for a less clunky suit than if he just wore a "mask and helmet", perhaps one of the first suits he comes up with is reminiscent of Jay Garrick, the Golden Age Mercury inspired Flash (almost like the Jay Garrick of the new Earth 2 book) so he can keep the police scanner in there (this is a little nod to Jay Garrick in the film and how silly and clunky his costume would look in real life), prior to his perfecting it into the classic, streamlined Flash look.
So basically Barry fights crime with his suit and identity as "The Flash", which he calls himself along with the media.
If they use the costume ring, it's something Barry came up with while in college, a sort of unstable material that expands on contact with air, like an inflatable raft. The suit stabilizes with the energy Barry makes as The Flash, and can be molded into any form he wants, and can shrink down into the ring and expand, thanks to his powers. It fires out and together in little pieces and wraps onto him because of his powers/the "charge" he gives it like the new 52 suit. The ring, even when he is Flash, has no lightning logo on it like it's depicted in some versions.
I always thought that was kinda stupid considering it might give away his identity if Barry Allen is wearing a GOLD ring with a bigass lightning bolt on it. So while the ring has always been one of the more "fantastic" elements of The Flash, to the naysayers that say the ring would never work in a movie, I'd merely like to point out that if 17 year old Peter Parker can make wrist watches with triggers that shoot strands of web to swing from place to place with, then dammit, The Flash can have a ring that shoots his costume out that he stores his suit in (yes, boots and everything).
SUPER SPEED - THE FLASH'S POWERS AND PERSPECTIVE
When The Flash speaks, his voice should sound like speed incarnate, sort of electrical and crackley, but we can still understand him. Just a little "tweak" effect to his voice would be cool to differentiate him from Barry. He also talks a little fast, there could be a funny moment where he reminds himself to slow his speech down when communicating with regular people.
Also, The Flash never walks. He is always seen either running and in motion or standing still, never like slowly walking. Barry walks, The Flash does not.
At some point in the film, probably one of the first times he turns into The Flash with the suit ejecting from the ring (if the ring is even in it, and if it is maybe it shouldn't appear until the end?), he puts the suit on but before running off he stops and looks behind him and sees all his civilian clothes on the ground (which he picks up at super-speed) and is like "duh".
As for the powers, there is always the issue of "if he has super speed, isn't everything in SLOW MOTION to him ALL THE TIME?", well, we're not going to do that, because one, it's stupid, and two, the "slow-mo for everything" has been done to death. This film is going to answer a LOT of peoples questions on what it might be like to have super speed, or what it might be like to be The Flash at least, and by the time the credits roll the audience will have a whole new set of ideas and outlook on how super speed might work. The Flash has "speed mode", which he has to kick into when he uses his super speed (although his subconscious protects him in times of danger and the "speed mode" is a part of it and will take over reflexively in times of danger) - this way everything isn't moving "super slow" to him all the time, only when he wants it to. At first he "kicks into it" as sort of an accident.
The Flash needs to do more than just run fast. They need to establish that he has complete control over his molecular structure and can literally do ANYTHING fast (insert sex joke here). Think fast, talk fast, read (and retain what he reads) fast, see fast, he has complete control over his body mass when he runs, etc, he can become lighter than air or build up tremendous momentum where he seems to be many times heavier than he really is to knock down a powerful opponent or barricade. The audience is going to leave this movie thinking that having super speed is the coolest super power ever, a movie that leaves them feeling anything less not deliver, as far as I am concerned.
When Barry uses his super speed, whatever happens, it has to happen FAST. The moment the film starts taking place from his perspective, the whole movie slows down. So what may take about 15 minutes of screen time may add up to about a minute or two, maybe even less, of his whole day/personal life, so the filmmakers should keep that in mind. Like if the film were nothing but non stop action of Barry as The Flash from start to finish, it could begin with him getting to work at like say, 9:15 AM, and then end with him returning to his desk at about 9:17 AM, we will have experienced an entire two hour adventure in the span of two minutes. That is one of the beauties of The Flash and what makes him so great. That's where the "Back to the Future" feel comes in, where Flash and the audience are having this huge adventure, but the rest of the world will never know it.
(The Flash vibrating the molecules of an entire plane through a bridge would make for a fantastic scene in a movie)
THE VILLAIN - MIRROR MASTER
Although the movie needs to be about the hero more that the villain, I think Mirror Master would make an interesting choice for the villain in this film because one, there aren't any other villains like him in comics, and two, we've seen so many movies where the hero fights a villain who has the same powers, I think this could be more unique if done right. Coming out of mirrors/reflections would be cool/creepy, his powers are unlike that of any other comic book villain, and he is able to negate The Flash's abilities and be a true threat to him. He could also be really scary of done right. Basically, Sam Scudder, the man who becomes Mirror Master, is driven insane by the weapon he's stolen/his use of it, his evil taken to its fullest potential, but the viewing other mirror worlds and things makes him mad with power. He kidnaps people through mirrors. He can find the prettiest girls all over the city in front of mirrors/reflections and kidnap them, he can really be anywehere. He gets a gleeful chuckle at how narcissistic people are, and just when you're not looking, he is there.
Sam Scudder aka Mirror Master should be kinda a lowlife felon (well, maybe slightly above your average thug), he'll be out of prison, his first murder is one he where he killed a victim with a mirror of all things, he is only referred to as "Mirror Master" once in the film (maybe a self referal, if at all...), and cops or people nickname him "the mirror man" when he is mentioned. Anyway, he should be an almost average thug who stumbles on to the technology and uses it to commit petty crimes at first, but his mind becomes "broadened" so to speak by the mirror realms he inadvertently "dicovers" and eventually he becomes tainted and completely power mad, possible plot could be pulling the entire Central City into a Mirror realm towards the end? Like a giant stunt.
Anyway, Scudder is a "reflection" of Barry Allen in a way, as he is a "blue collar" thug initially, the same way Barry is a sort of "next door, average guy", but a cop.
The film's climax could revolve around Mirror Master using a giant mirror weapon that is going to use the light of the sun or some light beam like a giant reflection to pull the entire city into a mirror realm (it is also here where it is hinted at that there are "other realities/worlds" out there, which will become a mainstay/theme of The Flash franchise and explored in sequels by Barry Allen), and we get to see just how FAST Barry REALLY is, as he has to run into the mirror realms before they seal up and pull the people Scudder has kidnapped out of it, AND find his way back out every time....every "reflection" leads into a whole different mirror world, very few kidnap victims are in the same "reflection". Even if there is more than one person in a "portal", he will have to go back for them because he does not have super strength and he cannot carry them all. This will be a real challenge for The Flash. Meanwhile, time is ticking away, and once everyone has been taken OUT of Mirror Master's mirror realms, Barry is going to have to escape before it closes up, and he is going to have to out race the reflection in order to do it, he escapes narrowly. He tries to save Mirror Master but he wants to live in his realm, refusing to leave, because that is the "real world" and everything else is just a reflection. Mirror Master unleashes the reflection beam that travels faster than the speed of light and in order to prevent the city from getting sucked into it once it bounces off Mirror Master's mirror thing, Barry must catch it. Barry can't save Scudder as he jumps into his mirror realm as he fires the weapon and Flash makes the decision to save the city instead of going after Scudder. Now it could end with him getting sucked in and as he tries to escape the mirror breaks and he is scattered all over the place, and Barry collects the pieces, and one day, if the Mirror is reassembled, piece by piece, they can get Scudder out (who is fine, just in a suspended state since it broke mid jump). Personally, I think that would be best, I don't want to kill him off so he can be used in sequels and team up with the other Rogues to go against The Flash. Or, perhaps he could "escape" or get "trapped" in the mirror ("die" for all intents and purposes), and if the Mirror Master IS to team up with the Rogues down the line it could be a new Mirror Master Captain Cold enlists the help of, like he gives a mercenary partner the technology once he steals it and he becomes the new Mirror Master, new style and everything. That may be thinking too far ahead, but it's just a possibility.
Some of Mirror Master's mirror realms are horribly nightmarish and scary, there can also be little nods to classic Flash covers when The Flash enters in the mirror worlds where in one world he could have a giant head, and in another he could appear as incredibly fat, a little homage to some classic trippy silver age covers.
The film ends with The Flash revered as a hero. Barry asks Iris out on a date, she agrees, and she tells him not to be late. Barry has every intention of showing up on time, and as he is in his apartment preparing for his evening date (in front of a MIRROR), his scanner goes off, the Central City PD is calling all units downtown for an emergency, a bank has been frozen. Barry looks at the clock. It looks like he's going to be a little late for his date after all, story of his life, but this time, its because he chooses to be, he's comfortable with himself. He turns to the camera, releases the costume from the ring, and THE FLASH races off. He runs with the Police cars, slowing down enough to see an officer who glares at him, The Flash waves, and then he picks up speed and passes the police cars and helicopters, runs up the side of buildings, speed jumps, and runs into the sunset. It's the story of his life, it's the life story of THE FLASH. End of movie.
As for who could play The Flash, I'd have to agree with fan favorite Ryan Gosling, who may not be your typical hollywood pretty boy, but he has one thing going for him most those other guys don't have - believability. You buy him as a "smart" person and can take him seriously. So if they don't cast Ryan or he does not want the part, hopefully they get someone else of that caliber/type actor. For a film score (everyone knows how much we fanboys love our movie tracks) I'd suggest James Horner, Michael Giacchino (Super 8), Randy Edelman (very underrated artist), Howard Shore, David Arnold (Independence Day, Stargate), or Hans Zimmer, (yeah, he did Batman and Pirates, but he also did Kung Fu Panda and Megamind, he has great range), any of these guys could provide a quality soundtrack.
^^ These are just some ideas of what they could do with The Flash movie. They aren't perfect, and many of them probably need rethinking, but I think it's a pretty good outline of what would make a good Flash film. I hope you liked them and would love to hear your thoughts. I know it's a long post, but a special thanks to everyone who read and stayed to the end. Now let's get this thing running!
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