Ever since Barry Allen was struck by a lightning bolt, he’s been running at super-speed, declaring himself the fastest man alive. As he went about learning the full scope of his capabilities, the star of The CW’s The Flash learned more and more tricks, including the ability to run on water, to create whirlwinds with his arms, to generate offensive bolts of lightning, to travel through time, to run up vertically on the side of buildings, and even phase through solid objects. Each power has made him an even more accomplished crime-fighter, but there is still much for him to learn yet.
It’s actually been a while since Barry developed a new super power, but that is about to change very soon. In fact, The Flash showrunner Todd Helbing recently confirmed to CBR that the scarlet speedster would be gaining a new power some time in the series’ fourth season. When you take stock of every ability in the Flash’s arsenal, however, it seems obvious that it’s time for the hero to focus on his mental capabilities, and realize that he can think as fast as he runs. Specifically, we hope the show introduces a power Barry developed during the early days of the New 52, on that’s perfect to make the jump to the small screen.
In The New 52’s The Flash #2, by the creative team of Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato introduced Dr. Elias, a scientist who informed The Flash that while his body was making full use of the powers of the Speed Force, there was untapped potential in his brain. After taking this under consideration, and after concentrating and pushing himself in different a way — a way that forced him to physically stand still instead of run — Barry realized that his brain could process everything that was happening around him, all at the same time.
But that wasn’t all. By allowing his brain to tap into the Speed Force allowed Barry not only to see what was happening, but what would happen. By applying the Speed Force to his brain, Barry could weigh the possible outcomes of every potential scenario, of seeing the cause and effect of his eventual actions at super-speed, giving him the time to course-correct. Essentially, Barry could see into a myriad of potential immediate futures, allowing him to save someone by doing nothing more than, say, moving an apple. Cause and effect.
This type of power would be a welcome addition to the Flash’s repertoire. Barry has too often been dependent on the knowledge of his friends and allies when he is in the thick of a fight. Developing this ability would allow him to think for himself, and would prove invaluable when the Thinker inevitable makes his move to unleash simultaneous dangers across Central City.
Of course, this super-power is one that comes with a caveat. In The Flash #4, Barry was almost shot in the head when he tried to use his new mental power. As he processed the information, as he looked at the eventualities, he got lost in them, reaching a point that he couldn’t differentiate what had happened and what could happen. This power comes with limits, and thus wouldn’t be something Barry could have to fall back on every other episode. It’s a skill that would requite honing and practice, but one that has many intriguing live-action possibilities.
While a comic book can show many outcomes in a series of panels, the television series would have to present it differently. What better way than to give The Flash an episode which borrows the famous “Groundhog Day” trope, a storytelling device used in many series like Star Trek: The Next Generation and the Person of Interest episode “If-Then-Else.” In the case of the speedster’s series, Barry could develop this power as he “relives” the same situation over and over, as he observes the possible eventualities of the precarious situation he finds himself in. As he keeps seeing things end in one disastrous result after another, he would eventually find the correct solution by the final act of the episode.
Once he gets the hang of using such an intriguing new ability, this power could help push the series in a new direction with many new storytelling possibilities. It’s also something that would allow Barry to grow as a solo superhero, one who isn’t dependent on his friends and team at every turn. Barry not only has a big heart, and he is not only extremely heroic — he is also very smart, a quality that the series should do well to highlight more often.
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