Barry Allen, Wally West, and the rest of the Flash family aren’t the fastest speedsters in the DC universe just because they put in time at the gym. As a matter of fact, the “speedsters” are nicknamed speedsters thanks to their ability to tap into what’s known as the “Speed Force.”
The Speed Force is an interdimensional power stream that lets users travel at seemingly impossible speeds. However, there’s plenty of blink-and-you-miss-it surprises to the power’s capabilities. Physics get pretty funky when you travel at nearly the speed of light. Here are 10 things DC fans never knew about the Speed Force:
10 It's New
The original Flash introduced to comic book readers in 1940 was Jay Garrick. After his exposure to chemicals, Garrick’s body was modified to move at super speed. Fast forward 50 years and a few incarnations of the Flash later, and running fast had run its course. As Ezra Miller’s Flash puts it in Justice League (2017), “I just sort of push people and run away.” DC first introduced the Speed Force to Wally West’s Flash in 1994 after being impressed by recent science confirming reality gets pretty trippy the faster you travel. Thanks to the Speed Force, the Flash family can unleash the full capabilities of their powers.
9 It Accelerates Evolution
DC’s New 52 era introduced an updated version of Gorilla Grodd, one of the Scarlett Speedsters’ most ferocious enemies, with a new backstory deeply tied to the Speed Force. The force doesn’t just accelerate the speed of users travelling through the stream. Sometimes it even accelerates their actual physiology. In his New 52 origin, Gorilla Grodd and his society of wickedly intelligent simians evolve into geniuses after their exposure to the Speed Force. Gorilla Grodd’s conflict with the Flash even stems from his obsession with harnessing the Speed Force for evil. Maybe Gorilla Grodd should be more worried about slipping on a banana peel when he’s running faster than a racecar.
8 Barry Allen Has Perfect Memory
The Speed Force doesn’t just accelerate the brain’s growth. One of the most impressive abilities Barry Allen’s Flash experiences is total recall. Because of the Speed Force, Allen is able to access literally every single memory in his head. Although the rest of the speedster family forgets what they ate for breakfast, just like the rest of us, Allen remembers his entire life in vivid detail. Allen mostly uses his perfect memory to poke fun at his friends and family. However, the ability comes in handy battling villains who enjoy mind games.
7 Superhuman Metabolism
Don’t you just hate people who can eat whatever they want and still be fit? Speed Force users reap the benefits of an accelerated metabolism that burns calories almost instantly. Where the power really comes in handy, though, is when speedsters battle villains who won’t go down without a fight. Whatever the injury, the entire Flash family heals much more quickly than other DC characters. Although the accelerated healing isn’t instantaneous like Marvel’s Wolverine, for example, it still helps them get back in the crime-fighting saddle again pretty quickly.
6 Delayed Aging
Not only can Speed Force users eat whatever they want, but they also make the rest of the DC universe jealous with decelerated aging. Although living longer than people you care about sounds like a nightmare, speedsters can actually transfer the power to those around them. Unfortunately, one major downside to this ability is that any supervillain can misuse the Speed Force to decelerate or accelerate the aging of anyone they choose. Of course, once you’re in the Flash family, it’s safe to assume you don’t have much to worry about.
5 It's Got An Evil Twin
Another huge tradeoff of the Speed Force is that it has a dark side, too. The Negative Speed Force is often harnessed by supervillains to consume the actual Speed Force, essentially destroying all speedsters in the process. The Negative Speed Force operates very much like its counterpart. Negative Speed Force users can travel near light speed and across dimensions. However, Negative Speed Force users also get the ability to absorb the power of other speedsters and weaken them. This specific ability is why Zoom and Black Flash remain two of the Flash’s greatest foes.
4 Speedsters Can Get Stuck
It’s seems so simple that it almost sounds silly but, yes, Speed Force users sometimes get stuck. The entire reason the Flash family is full of superheroes is because they run faster than everyone else. Unfortunately, there is such a thing as running too fast. At a certain point, speedsters move so quickly that they begin to lose form. They move so fast that the Speed Force can’t actually “see” them, and they’re trapped moving faster than the speed of light forever. Fear of getting stuck in the Speed Force is what usually stops speedsters from unleashing their full potential.
3 Sixth Sense
No, it’s not the same thing as “spidey sense.” Okay, well, maybe it actually is a little bit like spidey sense. “Speed sense” allows Speed Force users to slow down their perception of time. Unlike the Marvel wallcrawler’s famous ability, speed sense doesn’t alert speedsters to imminent danger. Instead, their ability to slow down how they view time allows speedsters to react to danger instantaneously. The speed sense is an almost impenetrable defense that continues to save the speedsters over and over again. Still, a little heads up from the spidey sense would be much appreciated.
2 It's A Bird, It's A Plane, It's Not Superman
Yes, the Flash can fly. It’s certainly not his favorite method of travel, but it gets the job. Theoretically, Speed Force users can even fly faster than Superman, although I’m sure they don’t want to embarrass their old pal. Although it usually looks like they’re legs are just blurry, the Speed Force propels users so quickly that they can actually run on air. The reason speedsters prefer travel by land is they have more control over their direction and footing. No one can blame them. Flying so high that you trip on the ozone would be the worst road rash ever.
1 We Don't Know What We Don't Know
The reason the Speed Force is often referred to as an “interdimensional stream” is for convenience. The reality is that no one knows very much about the Speed Force because there is just so much to know. The Speed Force isn’t just a “force,” it’s actually an entire universe removed from any other dimension. The speedsters have even discovered entire cities and cultures that have been living in the Speed Force since before time. The more we find out about the Speed Force, the more we realize how little we actually know.