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The Many Faces Of… The Flash

The 2004 animated series “The Batman” saw Batman teaming up with other DC heroes in some of the later seasons. Charlie Schlatter, who had voiced the character on “Superman: The Animated Series,” reprised the role for his appearances on this series.

In 2008 Warner Brothers came very close to making a live action Justice League movie. “Justice League: Mortal” had a script, a director (George Miller), and even a cast. For various reasons, probably in large part due to the Writers Guild strike, the film was never made. Adam Brody, well-known for “The O.C.” which was very popular at the time, would have played the Flash. The script drew its inspiration from several comic book storylines including “The Tower of Babel” and “The OMAC Project.” The script has leaked online at various times on several websites and may be available for the reading pleasure of those who are so inclined as to look for it.

encyclo_illustre_1360254620“Batman: The Brave and the Bold” was another animated series, a little more light-hearted and kid-friendly in tone, which featured Batman teaming up with a wide range of heroes from every corner of the DC universe. In fact, the caped crusader crossed paths with more than one Flash over the course of the series. Andy Milder lent his voice to the Jay Garrick “Golden Age” version of the Flash, Alan Tudyk voiced the Barry Allen Flash, and Hunter Parrish voiced Kid Flash/Wally West. Voicing Professor Zoom was former “Flash” star John Wesley Shipp!

Also in 2008, Warner Bros. Animation began releasing a series of direct-to-DVD “DC Universe” original animated movies, some of which were adaptations of comic book storylines while others were original tales. The Flash shows up in a good number of them as they often involve some incarnation of the Justice League or another. In 2008’s “Justice League: The New Frontier,” the Flash was voiced by Neil Patrick Harris. In “Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths” in 2010, Flash’s voice was provided by Josh Keaton. In 2012’s “Justice League: Doom,” Michael Rosenbaum once again lent his voice to the Flash (interesting to note, the Flash that Rosenbaum played on the “Justice League” animated series was the Wally West version, whereas in “Doom” he is playing Barry Allen). In 2013’s “Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox” (an adaptation of the comic book storyline that rebooted the DC universe and led into the “New 52” era), he was voiced by Justin Chambers. In 2014’s “Justice League: War,” Flash’s voice was provided by Christopher Gorham, who is slated to reprise the role for 2015’s “Justice League: Throne of Atlantis.” “JLA Adventures: Trapped in Time” also came out in 2014 and was intended as a more kid-friendly entry in the DC animated video series. Jason Spisak provided the Flash’s voice for that installment.

young-justice-kid-flashIn 2010 another animated series saw the teenage sidekicks of the Justice League forming a league of their own in “Young Justice,” with a roster that included Nightwing, Superboy, Zatanna, Aqualad, and more. The resident speedster on the team was the Wally West incarnation of Kid Flash, with Jason Spisak providing the voice here as well. “Young Justice” was the first series to include appearances by all four versions of the Flash. In addition to Wally, the series featured appearances by Jay Garrick (voiced by Geoff Pierson), Barry Allen (voiced by George Eads), and Bart Allen (voiced by Jason Marsden).

The ScientistFans got their first look at the next television incarnation of the Flash during the second season of the CW series “Arrow.” A pair of episodes saw forensic scientist Barry Allen working on a case that brought him to Starling City and into the path of Green Arrow. In the second of the two episodes in which he appears, Barry is struck by lightning in his lab and doused with chemicals, setting the stage for his transformation into the Flash.

The events of the “Arrow” episodes have spun off into a new “Flash” TV series on the CW which will follow Barry’s early exploits as the scarlet speedster. Barry is played on “Arrow” and the new “Flash” series by Grant Gustin, who had previously made appearances on “Glee” and the CW’s “90210.” The cast of the new TV show includes some nods to the last live-action series. John Wesley Shipp, who played Barry Allen on the 1990s series, returns as Barry’s father, Henry Allen. Actress Amanda Pays will actually be playing the same character on the new series that she played on the previous incarnation, reprising the role of Dr. Tina McGee.

Beginning with the last Superman movie “Man of Steel,” Warner Brothers and DC Comics are poised to follow Marvel’s successful model of movie-making and start to create an interconnected cinematic universe of stories and characters that cross-over between films. Filming now, “Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice” is due out in March of 2016 and will mark the first time that Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman have appeared together in a live-action film. Rumors that other DC heroes such as Aquaman, Green Lantern, and, of course, the Flash might appear as well to set the stage for the future “Justice League” movie have circulated almost from the moment the film was announced, but it is hard to separate the facts from fan speculation at this point. Even so, with Warner Brothers planning to bring the DC universe to the big screen, it is almost inevitable that the Flash will be speeding his way into a theater near you before too long.

Though he may not be as ingrained in the popular culture as Superman or Batman, the Flash has proven himself to be an enduring member of DC’s league of heroes. The Flash’s story is a unique one in that more than one version has been popular and successful in both live action television and cartoons. The fact that there have been enough different versions of the Flash to inspire so many different adaptations on-screen should tell you something. He is more than a guy who runs really fast. He is a legacy.

About Russ Dimino

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