The CW’s The Flash series has just ended its third season on a bit of a disappointing note. The show may not be without its merits, even at the worst of times — mainly due to its stellar cast — but most viewers who fell in love with the show back in season one, which was a tightly-knit, carefully structured season that all led to a breathtaking finale, felt let down. In retrospect, season one might have set an unfair standard for the rest of the series, one that nonetheless viewers can’t help but compare other seasons to.
Season two was considered a step down, but still solid in many viewers’ eyes. However, season three is where many feel that the show fell off the rails. What was once the crown jewel of The CW’s supehero line-up is now falling behind — something that The Flash isn’t known to do. But it’s not too late. With the fourth season, The Flash has a chance to redeem itself, and return to its rightful place as the most revered comic book show out there. Taking inspiration from the current DC comics event Rebirth, CBR takes a look at 15 ways The Flash can be reborn to once again come ahead of the curve.
WARNING: The following article may contain spoilers for the first three seasons of The Flash.
15. A RETURN TO FLASHPOINT
When Barry Allen ended season two by deciding to go back in time and save his mother, every comic book fan was screaming Flashpoint at the top of their lungs. But in the season three premiere, much to the chagrin of those fans, the “Flashpoint” timeline was nothing like what they had hoped and expected, and it was gone almost as soon as it had appeared.
With season three ending with the Speed Force taking Barry “prisoner” to pay for his mistakes, this could be the perfect time for the Speed Force to send a powerless Barry back into the “Flashpoint” timeline so he can learn who and what he is. And there, we could see a world at war, with characters like Citizen Cold, The Atom as America’s top superhero and Robert Queen as a much more violent Green Arrow.
14. RETCON THE BARRY/IRIS “SIBLING” RELATIONSHIP
Barry Allen and Iris West are supposed to be together. That’s just a fact of life (comics). But every now and again, Barry will look at Iris, tell her he loves her, and then he’ll turn around to Joe West and tell him he is proud to be his son. They might only be related by adoption, but Barry and Iris’ sibling relationship has always been a sort of strange elephant in the room.
Besides, every time Barry has visited an alternate universe or timeline, his relationship with a non-sibling Iris was a much more natural one. Free from the confines of that familial tie, the attraction between the two characters was much more palpable and organic. The show would benefit from doing away with the sibling relationship, something that could easily be changed with a bit of time manipulation.
13. FOCUS ON JAY GARRICK
The Jay Garrick saga has been an odd one. First, everyone was hoping he would be played by John Wesley Shipp, before the actor was revealed to play the role of Henry Allen. Then, Teddy Sears was cast as the character in the second season, before he was revealed to actually be Hunter Zolomon. Finally, Shipp was brought back as the real Jay Garrick from Earth-3.
But even then, Jay got the short end of the stick in season three, appearing only very sparingly, to offer very little more than a bit of guidance and sacrifice. With him being such an important part of the Flash family and a fan-favorite character, season four would do well to bring Jay to the forefront as the true mentor he should be to Barry. He could even have his own side-story, where Jay travels the Multiverse recruiting members for a new JSA.
12. DISBAND TEAM FLASH
There is no denying that the core team of Cisco, Caitlin, (some form of) Wells, Barry, Joe and Iris are at the heart of the show as Team Flash. They are a strong family unit that many have come to identify as the spirit of the series. But on the downside, they have also become a crutch to stand on. With the additions of Wally, Jesse, Julian and a few others, S.T.A.R. Labs is getting overcrowded.
With season three ending with both Caitlin and Barry leaving the team, the show would be right to disband the team for a very long portion of the season. Not only would this let these characters shine on their own, it would also allow them to evolve much more differently, and not give us the same stagnant formula of Barry running to them every time he needs help.
11. LET BARRY LEARN FROM HIS MISTAKES
Over the past two seasons of The Flash, it has become increasingly, painstakingly obvious that Barry Allen simply doesn’t learn from his mistakes. At every turn, Barry is reminded that he must not meddle with time, and every time he goes ahead and travels through time anyway, to the point that Barry has become more of a threat to his friends than any of his enemies (something we’re sure Prometheus would have fun pointing out).
Furthermore, whenever Barry isn’t fighting a speedster villain and simply dealing with day-to-day super-heroics, he will rarely figure anything out on his own, choosing instead to rely on his team to find a solution for him, and a pep-talk to boost his morale. We have seen this time and again. Now it’s time for Barry to come into his own, all by himself, learn from his mistakes and evolve into a dependable, intelligent superhero.
10. BRING IN THE TORNADO TWINS
With the series free to explore a new future for Barry Allen and Iris West, that future could come knocking to their door in a jaw-dropping twist. In fact, the eternally complicated love story of Barry and Iris could be thrown a tremendous new wrinkle with the introduction of their twin children from the future, Don and Dawn Allen, the Tornado Twins.
Taking a few liberties from the comic books, the producers could introduce the twins in the present, coming from a time after the 2024 future. With the both of them having inherited their father’s super-speed, it would be great to see Barry and Iris, not even yet married, having to deal with two young kids with impulse issues who look to them for guidance. And besides, baffled grandpa Joe West is something we would all want to see.
9. LESS “GLOOMY” MORE “HAPPY”
The first two seasons of The Flash had found a very solid balance between light and dark, between drama and levity. It was something that highlighted the contrast between The Flash‘s sister series, the much darker Arrow. But then season three shifted the scales in favor of the drama. You would be hard-pressed to find a character on The Flash who hasn’t at least cried a few times this season alone.
And while emotion is certainly fine and speaks to the stakes of the story, The Flash has gotten to a point where it has all but forgotten its lighter roots. Barry and his friends have gone through a hell of a lot in the past three years, so season four would be the time to start fresh, with a brighter outlook on life and hopes for a better tomorrow. Oh, and laughter.
8. NO MORE GUESSING GAMES
Season one: evil masked speedster Reverse-Flash was revealed to be Harrison Wells (a.k.a. Eobard Thawne), a friend and ally of Barry Allen. Season two: the masked, speed-obsessed Zoom was revealed to be Jay Garrick (a.k.a. Hunter Zolomon), friend of Team Flash. Season three: the evil, masked speedster god Savitar… you get the idea. Yes, he was someone we knew. Every season, we have had the same basic story.
It was genius and inventive back in season one, acceptable in season two as it upped the ante, but season three should have stayed far away from the formula. The answers to mysteries became clearer as time went own, and their impact was next to non-existent. It’s now time for season four to explore a different type of villain, one who doesn’t hide behind a mask — only to have his identity be revealed later on in the season.
7. A NEW, BRIGHTER COSTUME
In the season three episode “The Once and Future Flash,” Barry Allen traveled to the year 2024 to meet his future self. And there, he found a Flash that had a costume similar to his, but one very much more in line with that of the comic books, with a brighter red and more emphasis on the gold. Considering that we have had the same Flash costume for the past two seasons, it’s more than time for an upgrade.
What better way to break the mold of the past few darker seasons than to visually represent this change of direction? Bringing this costume to the present (with slight tweaks, like golden boots) would not only satisfy comic book fans, it would also inform us all that this would be a much different season. A new beginning. A true rebirth for the character as he moves forward.
6. A DIFFERENT FORMAT
The Flash series would greatly benefit from changing the format of its fourth season. Instead of having one long storyline drawn out through over 22 episodes — some of them less than important to the plot (and others nothing more than filler) — it could be interesting to see the series opt for two and three-parter episodes throughout the season, with one overarching plot going through all of them.
In fact, the series is no stranger to that approach, having featured a two-parter episode both in season two and three. So why stop there? Why not have the entire season filled with these smaller storylines that inform the next, leading to the finale. This would open up the storytelling, allowing for antagonists to get more time to shine and some much-needed development, as well as offering little to no filler in the season.
5. LET CENTRAL CITY BECOME A CHARACTER
One of the key aspects of The Flash comic books is the relationship the character has with his home, Central City. Similar to the way Gotham City is its very own character in the Batman comic books, so too is Central City, albeit in a much different manner. Where Gotham is a specter of the darkness in Batman’s world, Central City is a place filled with hope and life.
It’s a city where the citizens are proud of their hero, a hero who waves at them when he can. We caught a small glimpse of that city a few times in the series, like in the season two opener “The Man Who Saved Central City,” where Flash is being honored for his heroics. Season four would need to bring this Central City back, and focus on the relationship between its citizens and their very own superhero.
4. BRING BACK THE ROGUES IN A BIG WAY
Captain Cold, Heatwave, Golden Glider, Pier Piper, Mirror Master, The Top, Trickster, Weather Wizard. These are all characters that have appeared at one time or another on The Flash, all of them characters that were part of the same group of villains: The Rogues. But save for Cold and Heatwave, none of these characters got their proper due.
The Rogues, as well as their enemy/frenemy relationship with The Flash, are a big part of the comics. These are villains that are stronger united than divided. With Cold and Heatwave out of the Flash board, it’s time to bring all of these villains back, and unite them as the team of villains they were always supposed to be. Compared to his usual speedster villains, such a union would be a very different threat for the Flash.
3. SPEED FORCE STORM SPEEDSTERS
A year ago, under the DC Rebirth banner, The Flash comic book relaunched with a new story, one that saw a Speed Force storm wreak havoc over Central City. In its aftermath, dozens of new speedsters were created, ordinary citizens who had no idea how to use their powers. Some quickly decided to use them to commit petty crimes, while others sought guidance and leadership from The Flash himself.
As we saw, season three ended with Barry Allen willingly sacrificing himself to the Speed Force, but not before a huge lightning storm broke out over Central City. Could it be that this storm created a great number of new speedsters? This would not only start an overarching storyline of finding all of them, but also position Barry as a leader and teacher to some who look up to him.
2. INTRODUCE CAPTAIN ATOM
Season four is in dire need of a massive shake-up, and that change could arrive in the form of longtime fan-favorite character Captain Atom. The alter-ego of Nathaniel Adams, Captain Atom got his nuclear-based powers after a scientific experiment. Such a character would fit right at home in the universe of the Flash, and he would prove a powerful new addition to the cast.
However, while he is a superhero in the comics, Captain Atom could become the season’s big bad. Only, not the mustache-twirling type. Instead, as his ever-increasing powers become unstable and powerful, Captain Atom could see himself becoming a detached, god-like figure not unlike Watchmen’s Dr. Manhattan, a character inspired by Atom himself. Just like in the DC Rebirth comics, this all powerful force could be responsible for a lot of bad… and a little bit of good…
1. BRING “BACK” ORIGINAL WALLY WEST
In the pages of the comic book DC Rebirth #1, the original, ginger Wally West was brought back into reality after being forgotten by everyone in the DC Universe, and more specifically Barry Allen. In a scene that tugged at the heartstrings, Barry brought Wally back from the Speed Force, wondering aloud how he could have ever forgotten someone so important to him.
This exact scene could be brought to live-action in season four, and finally bring one of the most beloved comic book characters to the screen. The comics found a way for both Wally Wests to co-exist, and surely the television series could do the same. A result of (we assume) Dr. Manhattan’s tinkering with reality in the comics, that role could be filled by Captain Atom, setting the stage for a confrontation never before seen on The Flash.
What do you think could make a great fourth season of The Flash? Let us know in the comments!