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THE FLASH Has a Villain Problem

THE FLASH Has a Villain Problem

Not everyone was happy with the way the CW’s The Flash closed out in its third season, but one thing fans seem to be excited about is the prospect that the fourth season’s main villain be–finally, mercifully–not a speedster. The finale heavily hinted that the new big bad will be the Thinker, a former district attorney from Keystone City who, in the comics, becomes obsessed with outsmarting everyone. It’ll be a nice change to see the Flash’s main adversary change the mold, but already the show has introduced–and often squandered–some of the comics’ best villains. Why the rush, Barry?

The Flash 2

After Batman and Spider-Man, the Flash has the best cadre of recurring villains of any modern superhero, and when the TV series began in 2014, it was certainly exciting to have the prospect of getting to see them in live action. But now, with three seasons gone and dusted, when you actually take a look at the sheer number of villains the Flash has faced, it starts to feel a tad like overkill. By my count–and it may be a lowball–31 Flash or other DC Comics villains have been utilized in the series so far. That’s insanity, and while some (like Killer Frost) have gotten their proper due, most of them were one-offs or semi-recurring at best, and not in a Gotham way where the motto is basically “Hey, look at all these f***ing villains.”

Now, certainly not all of these deserved to be season-long arc villains, and some of them even received some nice multi-episode storylines that worked great. The Pied Piper, for example, was given the right amount of screen time, and no one’s clamoring for the Top or Girder or Tar Pit to be a main baddie. But Season 3 saw a two-episode jaunt to Gorilla City to face Grodd, and there’s truly no reason why he couldn’t have been a proper main bad guy (and he still might, perhaps).

Grodd

We’re excited that next season won’t have a speedster main adversary, but they don’t actually have any more to choose from, really. The Reverse-Flash in the first season was a stroke of genius. I was certainly surprised to see that incredibly formative storyline taken on so early, and it was done brilliantly and with heart. The following season gave us Zoom, who was basically the same but bigger and less interesting. The whole idea of using Eobard Thawne was that the audience knew he was disguised has Harrison Wells, but Barry Allen and company didn’t, which led to a heartbreaking reveal. We didn’t know who Zoom was until pretty close to when Barry did, so that drama was lost.

And they definitely doubled-down on basically the same premise in season three, with an even bigger, even more faceless speed villain–Savitar–as the big bad and, just like when the person we thought was Jay Garrick was revealed to be Zoom, Savitar was none other than Barry from the future, kinda. And, just to be different, a fourth speedster–the Rival–was used as the Flashpoint timeline’s bad guy for the first few episodes.

Reverse-Flash

But I think the most egregious handling of villains thus far has been the Rogues. The Rogues are a group of villains who become a team, and in the comics this group is almost always led by Leonard Snart, a.k.a. Captain Cold. The first season of The Flash did attempt this storyline (without several of the traditional team members), but it lasted all of one episode. Part of the reason for this is the breakout popularity of Cold, as played by Wentworth Miller, and he and fellow Rogue Heat Wave (Dominic Purcell) got shifted over to be antiheroes in DC’s Legends of Tomorrow. Cool, I get it, no big deal. But surely Weather Wizard, the Trickster, and Mirror Master could have continued, right? Hell, Mirror Master wasn’t even introduced until season three, for one whole episode, that was mainly noteworthy because it had a Captain Cold flashback.

Captain-Cold

To add insult to injury, some of the Flash’s best known Rogues have been used not on The Flash, but on Arrow. Murmur and Double Down–granted, not household names–showed up on Arrow and didn’t even fight the Flash, and the huge heavy hitter Captain Boomerang was used in a crossover episode as he wanted revenge on his former Suicide Squad taskmaster, Lyla Michaels.

If it were up to me, which it is not, season five of The Flash would focus on the Rogues as the main baddies. They don’t all have to appear in every episode, but having a unified team of adversaries–none of whom can travel in time or are particularly fast, PS–is something the Flash has never done in earnest. And, if they don’t want to bring Cold back, his sister Golden Glider (Peyton List) could be an excellent leader, along with already-established foes like Mirror Master, Weather Wizard, Trickster, Multiplex, and the Shade.

Even if this doesn’t happen, I think it would behoove the show to utilize the villains its already introduced, because frankly there aren’t that many left to choose from. Not that I don’t want to see the Fiddler, Rag Doll, or Folded Man on TV, but let’s give more play to the baddies comic fans care about most.

What do you think? Is it time for The Flash to pump the brakes a little bit? Let us know in the comments below!

Images: DC Comics/CW

Kyle Anderson is the Associate Editor for Nerdist and an avowed DC Comics fanboy. Follow him on Twitter!

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