TV URBAN LEGEND: Harrison Wells from “The Flash” TV series was based on an obscure DC Comics character.
When asked recently about how they got permission to use Superman as a regular character on the second season of “Supergirl,” executive producer Andrew Kreisberg replied:
I think people would love to hear that we had to promise our children and there was a blood right, and a goat was sacrificed, but the truth is we’re all partners, and we all want what’s best and so it really wasn’t a tough sell. We had our plan, and we presented it to Warner Bros. and to DC and they were totally supportive of it.
While that’s great to hear, it’s of course not always that easy to get permission to use certain characters on TV series, not with all of the various licenses out there. Kreisberg, for instance, introduced Ray Palmer in “Arrow” only after Warner Bros. nixed the first DC Comics character that they wanted to introduce as Felicity’s new boss.
One interesting way that the producers on the various CW superhero TV series have gotten around any possible issues is to just take obscure DC characters and essentially just make them brand-new characters. The most famous example of this is “Arrow” star Felicity Smoak, who was named after an obscure “Firestorm” character from the 1980s.
However, things are complicated by the fact that the shows also occasionally invent completely new characters that have no comic book counterparts, with the most famous example being John Diggle, one of the main characters on “Arrow.” Diggle has since been adapted into comics, but he was invented for the TV series.
Dr. Harrison Wells on “The Flash,” played by Tom Cavanagh, has always seemed to be another example of an original character, but reader Victor C. wrote in to ask if it was true that Wells was actually named after an obscure character from a 1991 “Flash” one-shot.
The character in question debuted in 1991’s “All-New Flash TV Special”
in a story written by John Byrne and drawn by Javier Saltares. A STAR Labs scientist was killed by a seemingly invisible man. When Tina McGee was attacked, as well, the Flash helped to save her and she explained that the killer was another STAR Labs scientist named Dr. Wells, who blamed STAR Labs for an accident that he was involved in.
When Flash stops him at the end, he discovered that Wells was crippled in the accident.
Harrison Wells on the “Flash” TV series was in a wheelchair (although this was a fraud he perpetrated because — SPOILERS! — Wells was actually Eobard Thawne, the Reverse Flash, in disguise) and he had a past relationship with Dr. Tina McGee on the “Flash” series. So it really wouldn’t be that shocking if this was the inspiration for the Wells character name.
However, the creators of the “Flash” TV series have been pretty explicit that Wells was an original character.
Geoff Johns said to the Hollywood Reporter:
“Harrison Wells is a new character that was created. The name obviously is brand-new. I don’t think we can say anything else about it.” Johns, of course, was referring to the mystery of Wells that began at the end of the first episode where it was revealed that he could walk and that he had access to information from the future and did not seem to actually be a fan of the Flash.
Johns is a master of DC Comics history, so if he had taken the name from an obscure character from DC Comics, there’s no reason for him not to say so. So since he says otherwise, I think it is fair enough to believe him, in which case this legend is…
Thanks to Victor for the suggestion!
Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future urban legends columns! My e-mail address is email@example.com
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