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The Flash is DC's Most Tragic TV Hero

May 29, 2017

The cinematic universe that DC Films has constructed is shrouded in darkness. The overall tone of the studio’s projects to date have indeed been edgy, gritty, and bleak, to say the least. If DC was hoping to distinguish itself from its competition in Marvel, then it’s received a passing grade thus far.


However that’s not to say that the films are a hit. Many fans continue to scratch their heads in disbelief at DC’s apparent inability to translate its biggest properties outside of the comics. While it’s true that a good number of DC characters are tragic figures, none are more tragic than  CW’s The Flash.


Unlike its big screen cousins however, The Flash is a success.


Greg Berlanti continues to strike gold with the CW shows, and with good reason. The minds behind The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, Arrow and Supergirl, understand the characters, they respect the source material, and they deliver top notch television. Just when fans think it can’t get any better, the DCCW pull off the big surprises, to keep the audience coming back for more.


That’s certainly true of The Flash, which just ended season three with a shocker; Barry Allen has surrendered himself to the Speed Force.

The Fastest Man Alive has evidently run his last race, and now has brought balance back to the energy he drew his speed from. Longtime comic book fans know this was Barry’s fate in the books, but perhaps did not see the twist coming on TV.


Barry appeared to have finally found some semblance of peace in his life, and then it was all taken away from him once again. Therein lays the key to the character, and the reason why he is such a tortured soul. Fans may have always felt that Bruce Wayne wore that label better than anyone else in DC, but The Flash has sped far past him.


Barry Allen has never had an easy life. He saw his mother killed in front of him, and his father wrongfully went to prison for her murder. He grew up with the girl of his dreams but later didn’t have the courage to confess his love for her. He toiled away in a job that he did not excel at, and he lived with a great sense of loss that could never be eased despite what he did.


Getting struck by lightning and receiving super-speed did nothing but complicate his life even more.


Now he had a power he didn’t want, abilities he didn’t understand, and enemies that wanted him dead. His best friends all became targets, and no matter how hard he tried, he consistently made poor decisions that negatively impacted everyone around him.

Being a hero didn’t make him perfect, and it didn’t even make him better; he was a good man in a bad situation that he could never control.


As if losing his mother wasn’t enough, Barry also watched his father murdered in front of him. When he actually had the opportunity to go back and save both of them, he completely changed the lives of everyone he cared about, and was forced to change it all back again. He lost his family for a second time, but regained his friends, who were never the same after it all happened.


But after finally defeating the third major villain put in front of him, Barry still couldn’t find happiness. Instead of being with the woman he loved and protecting the city that needed him, he had no choice but to enter the Speed Force and leave everything behind. 


Once again, The Flash is the tragic hero. It’s what he does best.


This is why no one else in the DC Universe can touch The Flash in terms of being the most tragic character. He has amazing speed and can travel through time, but he can’t make his own life any better. He continues to struggle while others get ahead. He wants to have a normal life, but it’s never going to happen. He is The Flash, and he is the most tortured soul in DC.

Funny how DC Films can’t get it right on the silver screen.


The studio has explained the differences between it’s’ film and TV universes before, and fans haven’t been happy about it. Even those that understood it were hard pressed to accept it. DC has arguably the best currently written character with The Flash, but refused to cast Grant Gustin in Justice League.


Of course while that film is reportedly struggling trying to find itself, the Berlantiverse is doing just fine. The Flash is delivering some action-packed heart-wrenching TV that would fit in any corner of DC’s Cinematic Universe. The creative forces behind the show understand what they’re dealing with, and the actors involved know what makes their characters tick.


The Flash works because it’s the perfect mix of humor, heart and spectacle. It’s also working because Barry Allen is a fallible hero that’s only doing the best he can in the crazy world around him. He’s everything that the audience can identify with, and more.


So the next time fans wonder why DC Films has such issues getting established on the big screen, they need only look at the DCCW. That network is firing on all cylinders, and telling great stories along the way. The Flash is the best of the best, and it’s only getting better.


Perhaps one day the same will be said of DC on the big screen.


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