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Flashback: When The Flash Was Developed For The WB In 2003

The Flash series for The CW was not the first TV revival that was planned for the character.

In 2003, more than a decade after John Wesley Shipp wore the red tights, and two years after the premiere of Smallville, it was announced in the trade magazines that The WB had ordered a pilot script for a Flash series with a “healthy penalty” if it did not happen (and of course, it didn’t, and it was dead by January of the next year.)

News of The WB Flash series came out in Daily Variety on September 12, 2003 in an article by Josef Adalian. Todd Komarnicki (Resistance, Elf) was attached to write and executive produce — and just like Smallville’s “no flights, no tights,” there wouldn’t be a costume. This character also had a different background — he’s a young Gothamite who had just graduated from college. “Once our hero gets his calling, he’s given the advice, ‘Live fast so others don’t die young,’ ” Komarnicki said. “This is a story about a guy who’s aimlessly drifting through life and barely moving at the speed of life when he discovers his calling is to move at the speed of light,” he added.

The other zinger, and something present-day CW Barry should always avoid himself, is that The Flash would be a time-travel show, with Barry’s powers allowing him this ability to travel forward and backward in time.

“We’ve been talking internally about doing a Time Tunnel-style show, and this was the perfect way to blend time travel with an established franchise we know is beloved by people who know the comic,” Warner Bros.’ Carolyn Bernstein told Variety. Komarnicki added that “when he’s in the future, he’s missing his present,” and “he’s really giving up his own life to help others.”

Bernstein also revealed that every week would have a mission, a la Mission: Impossible, which makes it sound a bit like modern-day shows like Timeless. “It’s a big, fun, adventure series. There’s also a mentor character who’ll train him, and there’s a legacy of Flashes before him,” she added.

The 2003 pilot script for The Flash has, to our knowledge, never leaked, so we don’t even know if The Flash was Barry Allen, Wally West, or another choice. Still, this is a mostly-forgotten part of TV history that never ended up being casted or filmed. Ultimately, a Flash appeared on Smallville in 2004 in the form of Bart Allen, as played by Kyle Gallner, but beyond the appearances of that character, we’d have to wait another ten years to see Grant Gustin in live action as the Scarlet Speedster. Oh, and interesting trivia: The Flash TV series that never happened was announced on the same day that news came that Christian Bale would be Batman. That story, of course, was a lot more successful.

About Craig Byrne

Craig Byrne began writing about TV on the internet in 1995, and has since had several books published, including the official Smallville companion books. In addition to running KSiteTV, he is webmaster of several spin-off sites, including KryptonSite, GreenArrowTV, SHIELDsite.net, and FlashTVNews.

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