His name is Barry Allen, and he’s the fastest man alive. He is...the Flash! Fans of the TV show about the Scarlet Speedster practically have that intro etched into their memories. It must be pointed out that, while the show isn’t a perfect representation of the Flash, it has boosted the popularity of one of the founding members of the Justice League, especially among casual fans. Grant Gustin's portrayal of the character is a hit that has largely sustained its popularity for roughly five years. The jury’s still out as to whether Ezra Miller’s version of the character will leave a genuine mark, but there’s still hope (well, as much hope as one can have when it comes to the Worlds of DC movies).
The CW has taken some liberties with the character, which has somewhat muddled the water when it comes to the Flash’s power set and abilities. So, with the premiere of the fifth season of The Flash right around the corner, we think it’s an appropriate time to rank some of the speedster’s top abilities. This hero is so much more than “the guy who runs fast" -- e can time travel, create tornadoes and he’d easily win the competition for the title of “fastest reader in the DC Universe.” Before we give too much away, we’ll stop and tell you to read on, dear reader, for a ranked look at the Flash’s powers. By doing so, you’ll get a comprehensive understanding of what makes the Flash one of the most versatile heroes in DC history.
20 SPEED SPEAK
“Speed speak” is often used as a source of comedy, but it can be a useful part of a speedster’s toolkit. When a speedster travels at superspeed, they can think, hear and speak at a proportionally fast level. This skill can come in handy when speedsters wish to be secretive, both in the presence of friends and foes.
Using speed speak to stealthily banter about their coworkers is only one of the many possible ways speedsters can use their unique method of communication. For example, the Flash can also plan, at superspeed, how to take down villains that usually can’t understand this hyper-language.
The Flash’s superspeed is not limited to his legs -- the Scarlet Speedster can use the Speed Force in a variety of ways throughout his entire body. For example, when he vibrates his vocal chords at superspeed, whoever’s under the mask can disguise their own voice or mimic that of others.
Most frequently, especially in the TV show The Flash, Barry Allen uses the ability to manipulate his vocal chords to protect his secret identity. The mask may give it away, but Barry can take comfort in the security of his alernated voice. The Flash’s voice-based powers can be useful in other ways, too.
18 SOLID CONSTRUCTS
Throughout the years, DC has greatly expanded the Speed Force and its utility in battle -- it stopped being “the thing that makes the Flash run fast” a long time ago. Nowadays, the Speed Force can physically manifest in a variety of ways, including physical constructs.
It seems like DC doesn’t have Barry use this power very often, but it certainly has its uses. Wallace West learned how to use these constructs to augment his super-suit, while they also can repair tears in costumes and act as pockets in desperate times. Overall, Speed Force constructs can come in handy. Hopefully, it won’t be long before they become a more common part of Barry’s power set.
Like some of the items on this list, the Flash’s ability to generate tornadoes, vortexes and vacuums could be considered his signature crime fighting “move.” As early as the first episode in the TV series, the Flash takes down the Weather Wizard by creating a tornado to counteract the Wizard’s weaponized weather. Tornados can help Flash defeat heat, radiation, and a number of other dangerous energies.
On the other hand, just as the Flash can essentially create air, he can take it away. As when he makes tornadoes, by running in circles, the Flash can take all the oxygen out of an area, which can put out fires and knock out his enemies.
16 RUN ON WATER/ WALLS
The Flash can run on water. That may not seem like a big deal now but, once upon a time, walking on water was unfathomable. Imagine, then, the readers’ shock when this speedster sprinted on water for the first time. Additionally, the Flash’s gravity-defying ways also allow him to run up walls.
Who needs to take the long way when you can just run up the sides of buildings? Fans have seen Barry use this ability countless times in the TV show -- it’s often how he beats Wally and other speedsters in races, and it also allows him to get to crime scenes as fast as possible.
15 AIR CUSHION
In a lot of ways, the Flash is a superpowered firefighter. He frequently squares off with Heatwave, one of the most fiery villains in the DCU, and the speedster often has to put out fires. These similarities also extend to Barry’s ability to create a durable cushion for people in danger.
By twirling his arms at superspeed, the Flash can create this cushion, which can help others land safely after a fall. Barry sometimes uses this power to fly, though some fans aren’t sold on the scientific plausibility of flying by flapping your arms super fast. Maybe the Flash should stick to what he’s best at: running.
14 RESISTANCE TO TELEPATHY
The Flash’s resistance to telepathy may seem ironic, given that Barry Allen just matched up with The Thinker in the TV series. Yet, despite the havoc Clifford Devoe has recently wrought in Barry’s life, the Scarlet Speedster can usually withstand all but the strongest telepaths.
Like most other speedster powers, this ability stems from the hero’s accelerated body functions. In this case, the Flash’s mind often races too fast, which leaves telepathic criminals in the dust. Of course, there are exceptions. While Barry has bested Gorilla Grodd on many occasions, the latter has gotten the upper hand, using his mind-based powers, plenty of times.
13 SPEED FORCE SHARING
Barry Allen, Speed Force vampire? While that exaggeration may sound creepy, the reality isn’t too far off. As previously established, the Flash can absorb kinetic energy. He typically uses this power to stop bullets but he can also absorb energies from other people in order to give himself an extra push.
Additionally, the Flash can lend his speed to others, even if they’re not card-carrying members of the speedster society. The hero can even lend his powers to inanimate objects. Sharing is caring, and Barry can offer one of the best gifts around: the ability to (temporarily) be the fastest man alive.
12 SPEED READING
The Flash may be one of the smartest characters in the DCU. While whoever’s wearing the mask tends to be inherently intelligent, the Speed Force grants the hero the ability to read and process that newfound knowledge at an incredibly fast rate.
Various times on the TV show, viewers have seen Barry rapidly read crime scene reports and a number of other things in order to crack a case. This power has its limits, as Barry can only store the information in his short-term memory, which means the fresh knowledge is practically in one ear and out the other. Still, it’s quite a useful skill to have.
11 TIME REMNANTS/SELF-DUPLICATION
“One cannot be in two places at once". That saying holds true for the average man, but it most definitely does not apply to the Fastest Man Alive. The Flash can run to fast that he can create multiple copies of himself, sometimes called time remnants, through manipulating the time stream. Bart Allen, or Impulse, is one of the speedsters most associated with this skill -- he used it during his time with Young Justice.
Cloning himself doesn’t always help the Flash -- most famously, in season three of the TV series, one of his time remnants became Savitar and ended Iris West, the love of Barry’s life.
10 ABSORBS KINETIC ENERGY
Superman isn’t the only bulletproof member of the Justice League. Bullets don’t bounce off the Flash in the same way, though. Instead, Flashes can absorb the bullet’s kinetic energy and even add that momentum to their own. We’ve seen Barry stop bullets various times in The Flash and now it’s clear how he’s able to do so.
Barry’s absorption of the kinetic energy makes sense, given that, in several continuities, the Flash can also take in the Speed Force of other speedsters. The Flash isn’t invulnerable but, with the ability to stop bullets, he’s pretty close. Good luck to any criminals that hope to take him down with no more than a firearm.
9 QUICK HEALING
The Flash’s body always runs in high gear; everything from his metabolism to his langage operates at superspeed. As a result, the speedster’s body can withstand a lot of punishment because it can heal so quickly that most hits don’t really land. One blast from a Cold Gun or Heat Wave’s blaster won’t have that much of an impact , which is one of the reasons the Flash continues to best the Rogues.
It’s all relative -- the Flash isn’t invincible and he has his share of weaknesses. After all, Barry Allen’s existence ended in Crisis on Infinite Earths before heroic sacrifices were trendy in comics. However, taking down the Flash is no easy task.
Time and again, the Flash has used his ability to phase through objects to escape the most dangerous situations imaginable. Barry uses the ability to push poison/venom out of his bloodstream, which is one of the most creative ways that the TV show utilized this skill. Basically, speedsters, having total control over their Speed Force-infused bodies, can vibrate their molecules.
Subsequently, the speedy heroes (or villains) can pass through solid objects. As the Reverse-Flash has repeatedly demonstrated, this vibration can be limited to a single hand, making it a dangerous weapon. Or, the power can be used for the whole body.
7 SUPERSPEED PUNCH
The Flash’s strength is often an underrated aspect of the character, and his infinite mass punch may be the clearest demonstration of the hero’s sheer power. Grade school science tells us that force is equal to mass times acceleration. So, as the fastest man alive, the Scarlet Speedster packs a heck of a punch that could taken down even the biggest of bads.
At the upper limits of his speed, the Flash’s mass increases immeasurably. With incredible acceleration and the Speed Force’s electricity tossed in, there may not be a stronger punch in the DCU than a speedster’s infinite mass punch.
6 THROW LIGHTNING
The Flash’s ability to throw /lightning is a fairly new power. But, when it comes to the speedster’s strengths, few are as physically impactful as the skill to weaponize electricity. Throwing lightning bolts is one of Barry Allen’s most famous moves in the TV show, and it’s increasingly spreading to the comics.
In Joshua Williamson’s run on The Flash, a Speed Force storm early in the series gives the special lighting a bigger role, for both speedsters and Central City citizens. Wallace West discovers that he has ability to blast lightning out of his hands, which makes Barry’s lightning darts look like child’s play.
5 TIME TRAVEL
Thanks to Barry Allen’s... questionable usage of his time-traveling abilities in recent years, both in the comics and the TV series, the Flash has become synonymous with time travel. Speedsters are fast enough to break the time barrier, which has caused plenty of time travel tomfoolery. Flashpoint is the most infamous example of a speedster-related time-travel controversy, but the character has repeatedly abused this power in the TV show, too.
Speedsters recently lost this risky power in the comics, which means they’ll have to solve problems without this convenient deus ex machina going forward. Maybe the TV show will take a similar approach (it probably won’t).
4 DIMENSION/MULTIVERSE TRAVEL
Time travel is an amazing power to have, as it opens an immeasurable amount of possibilities when it comes to the past and the future. For speedsters, their access to alternate realities is increased exponentially by their ability to traverse from dimension to dimension. As a result, Flashes are often crucial when it comes to traveling the multiverse, which is why these heroes often play important roles DC’s multiple Crisis level events.
As with time travel, speedsters can break the barrier to other dimensions. Previously, these heroes needed the Cosmic Treadmill to travel to other dimensions but, now, some of them can do it themselves.
3 FLASH TIME
“Flash Time” may be one of the hero’s most useful abilities, and it’s a power that Barry has developed throughout the duration of the TV show. Initially, “Flash Time” was limited to the speedsters themselves, and it referred to the way the world slowed down relative to the Flashes were in the Speed Force.
Time and again, this difference in perspective enables Barry to stop bullets and other weapons or protect people from harm. In the episode “Enter Flash Time,” the heroes, using the aforementioned ability, manage to save Central City from a nuclear bomb. A speedster’s ability to view time differently is arguably just as useful as their superspeed.
2 TRAVELING AT LIGHT SPEED
The Flash is fast -- everybody knows that. But the magnitude of this hero’s speed is often underestimated. The Flash is faster than the speed of light (which is how he’s able to time travel). Truthfully, we can’t comprehend the hero’s true speed as it’s beyond the limits of human logic. Instead, we can look at some of his craziest speed-related accomplishments.
The Flash has literally outrun death. He has traveled faster than nuclear fallout and instant teleportation. It’s only a matter of time before Barry or another Flash performs another mind-boggling feat with their speed, but it will be pretty hard to top beating Death in a foot race.
Of all the Flash’s powers, his superspeed takes the cake. The hero is known for his speed -- everyone knows he’s the Fastest Man Alive. He can beat practically anyone, or anything, in a race and his speed allows him to stop bullets. Thanks to his speed, he can defuse bombs, put out fires and stop criminals instantaneously.
All of the other powers on this list stem from the Flash’s speed, or his access to the Speed Force. Without it, the Flash would not exist -- there would only be Barry Allen, the man under the mask. Nothing on this list could possibly outrank the Flash’s superspeed.