The Flash (1990) and The Flash (2014)

The Flash (1990-    )
The Flash (2014-    )
Type: Crossover/Reboot
Group: DC Multiverse

    Here's where things get weird. Okay, in 1990 with Tim Burton's Batman a huge movie success, the decision was made to try and extend that success to TV with another DC comics character, The Flash.

    The modern day Flash was police forensic scientist Barry Allen. While working with chemicals in his lab, Barry is struck by lightening and transformed into the fastest man alive. In Tim Burton's Batman film they moved away from the idea of the superhero in skin hugging tights and went instead for hero suits covered in sculpted muscles. The Flash went for the same look. John Wesley Shipp played The Flash. He was aided by scientist Tina McGee played by Amanda Pays. And maybe the best villain they introduced in the series was Mark Hamill as The Trickster. Hamill had voiced the cartoon version of The Joker on Batman: The Animated series and this was as close as he got to playing the character live action as Trickster was a very similar character. For the time it was a solid series but it never caught on enough to warrant CBS giving it a second season.

    Cut to 2014 and a new renaissance for superhero movies and TV shows. Marvel Comics had an entire movie universe going with its Avengers characters not to mention other studios having giant hits with it's Spider-Man and X-men characters. DC was playing a bit of catch up but had giant hits with its latest Batman and Superman movie franchises. It was trying to branch into TV too with shows based on its Constantine and Green Arrow characters. While Constantine was cancelled Arrow turned into a solid hit. Enough so that DC and the CW network decided to create a spin off of Arrow centering on a new version of The Flash.

    The Flash fully embraced the history of the character. There are so many references in it to the Flash comics there are too many to even list (although I will mention a couple in a minute). But in addition to that they also showed much love for the 1990 Flash series. They cast previous the previous Flash, John Wesley Shipp, as the new Flash's father. They also brought back Amanda Pays and Mark Hamill to play new versions of Tina McGee and The Trickster respectively. While referencing the old show these casting choices do not constitute true crossovers though as, again, these were new characters, different from the originals.

    Early on though the new series played a card from the comics that suggested a full on connection to the original Flash series was not out of the question. The main plot for the first season involved a time traveler from Flash's future. At one point we are shown a newspaper declaring that The Flash has disappeared in some sort of crisis. This was no small reference and requires a bit of explanation. At some point in the long history of DC comics people started to wonder, how is it possible that characters created decades ago were still around and the same age. DC comics came up with a clever fix: a multiverse. There were several Earths in the DC universe all existing in parallel universes. So Batman, Superman, Flash, etc from the early days of DC comics were on one Earth while the more current versions lived on another Earth. This opened up the door for writers to create even more Earths such as one where the heroes were villains. Eventually the quick fix caused more headaches than it fixed as now instead of just one Earth continuity to keep track of they had continuity for multiple Earths to deal with. Eventually the decision was made to simplify things with a comic series called Crisis On Infinite Earths. A being called The Monitor was going along systematically destroying the various parallel Earths in the DC universe. The characters from all the various realities had to band together to save all of reality. In the end, all of the surviving realities were merged into one single reality. A very big image from Crisis was that of Barry Allen as The Flash appearing with a warning on the various Earths and then disappearing, eventually disintegrating into bones. Flash could use his speed power to move between the realities. One plot point in Crisis was that Flash sacrificed his life running between the realities acting as a sort of Paul Revere to warn the various worlds of the pending threat.

    The minute The Flash series referenced Flash disappearing in a crisis they put huge possibilities into play. They were winking at multiple Earths as well as a mind blowing possibility. Could they do Crisis? Even if not, could it be that all of the DC television shows and movies could actually be connected not in a shared universe but a multiverse? 60s TV Batman, 50s Superman, Tim Burton Batman, etc... all sort of connected? Seriously, how great would it be to have Adam West show up as old Bruce Wayne?

    Cut to The Flash's second season and the full on introduction of the multiverse. The finish of season 1 had The Flash accidentally causing rips in reality enabling travel to and from Earth 2 leading to the introduction of the "Golden Age" Flash living on Earth 2. Midway through season 2 The Flash leads a team into a portal to visit Earth 2. As they pass through the portal we see images of from various other realities. We see an image of Green Arrow from an alternate Earth that is later featured on the DC series Legends Of Tomorrow. We see an image of Supergirl from CBS's Supergirl series (foreshadowing an upcoming crossover and establishing Supergirl is not set on The Flash's Earth). Most importantly for this discussion though, we see an image of John Wesley Shipp's Flash, meaning that while not part of the current Flash's universe, he is part of his multiverse.

    It also raises other possibilities. Such as, could it be that the current Flash's dad being played by John Wesley Shipp is more than a tip of the hat? Could it be that his dad is the 1990's Flash who jumped dimensions to live on a different Earth? Maybe hiding for some reason? Could he have brought Tina McGee with him? Barry Allen's dad starts off the series falsely imprisoned for the death of his wife. When finally freed instead of finally spending time with his son he inexplicably leaves. Something is brewing there. 1990s Flash IS part of this multiverse. Could 2014 Flash be the son of 1990 Flash?

Other Flash Crossover Links
The Flash (2014) and Arrow
The Flash (2014) and Legends of Tomorrow
The Flash (2014) and Supergirl (1990)

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