The importance of source material cannot be understated when it comes to storytelling in adaptations in visual media, more so in the case of comic-book-oriented content, as not only the narrative flow but also many of the visual cues are guided by the source, which is the reason why comic readers feel so elated to see panels of the source being recreated perfectly on screen even while adaptations bring their own interpretation of the main narrative. After James Gunn took charge as the creative head of DC Studios, an exciting new change occurred in the form of associating more comic creators with the media representation of their works and underlining the importance of source material with the updates of an upcoming movie. Keeping up with recent tradition, a reading recommendation of three seminal Flash-related series was released along with the first full-length trailer for The Flash. A brief discussion about them will help viewers assess what they should expect from the much-anticipated arrival of the Scarlet Speedster on the silver screen.
Out of the three recommended series for the movie, “Flashpoint” is going to be the most influential one. The DC continuity went through three major “reboots” throughout its 85 years of existence, and one of them, “The New 52,” was triggered by this particular event.
The story revolves around one of the significant decisions Barry Allen, aka the Flash, makes that alters not only his destiny but the destiny of the entire multiverse. During his childhood, Barry lost his mother when his arch-enemy, the maniac speedster Eobard Thawne, aka Reverse-Flash, went back in time and killed her, thereby shaping the course of Barry’s life, which eventually led him to become the speedster superhero known as Flash. Barry learns about the culprit in the present timeline and makes the rash decision to go back in time and save his mother. The action causes a butterfly effect so strong that an alternate reality gets created—one where the Justice League was never formed, Bruce Wayne’s death led to his father, Thomas Wayne, becoming a gruff, brutal version of Batman, Superman is missing, and Amazonians and Atlanteans are locked in a destructive war that threatens the extinction of humankind. Barry forms an uneasy alliance with Thomas Wayne and considers Thawne to be responsible for the chaotic reality. Barry also finds himself powerless in this reality and regains his powers by recreating the similar accident that gave him powers in the first place.
Barry and Thomas investigate a certain Project Superman and learn that the Kryptonian Kal-El has been imprisoned in the hands of the military since his arrival on Earth, resulting in a frail, timid version of the Man of Steel who has never experienced human kindness or optimism. The duo frees him from captivity, and a confused Kal-El flees the scene. Later, Barry and Thomas get involved in the Amazonian-Atlantean war as well, and Eobard Thawne makes his appearance. Barry accuses him of tampering with the timeline, but he gets to know that his own action of altering the timeline by saving his mother caused the creation of this doomed reality. The alteration also freed Eobard from being bound to the laws of Speedforce (the primal force associated with motion that grants Speedsters their powers), and he can kill Barry without being bothered about temporal consequences (as Flash’s existence was integral to Reverse Flash’s origin). However, before Eobard can proceed with his planned action, Thomas Wayne kills him, thereby giving Barry a chance to tap into the Speedforce freely once again. Kal-El returns to assist his friends in battle, but the devastating impact of the conflict is too much to contain even for him.
Seeing the reality as beyond saving, Thomas requests that Barry undo his action and restore the former reality, thereby allowing Bruce to exist and saving the world from absolute annihilation. Barry gathers his strength and resolve for one last time, goes back in time to stop his old self from saving his mother, and restores reality as it was. Barry meets with Bruce and gives him a letter that Thomas had addressed to his son. After reading the letter, Bruce tearfully thanks Barry. However, Barry retains memories from both timelines and learns his actions have created a universe where ten years have been lost, and character relationships have been changed, which will later be known as the New 52 continuity.
Flash 1: Move Forward
In the New 52 universe, Barry Allen has been operating for five years. The flashpoint event, which was caused by him, resulted in changes in reality that Barry has to come to terms with; changed relationships and lost time are just some of them. One of Barry’s old friends, Manuel Lago, was experimented on by the military and turned into a superpowered, self-cloning legion named Mob Rule. Barry finds himself in a precarious situation trying to help him as the clones known as Mob Rule showcase villainous tendencies that oppose what Manuel stands for, but at the same time, the legion is inseparable from the prime host itself. Barry gradually learns to grow into his new reality and gets to know the toll time can extract from his past transgressions.
The Flash Tie-In Comics: The Fastest Man Alive
This series is movie exclusive, works as a prequel to The Flash, and lets the reader know what’s happened in Barry’s life since the events of “Justice League.” Barry is still on the learning curve in his superhero career, and Bruce, who previously recruited him for “Justice League,” is mentoring him through everything. The shared experience of personal tragedy helps Bruce and Barry empathize with each other in a new way, and Barry gets a new suit from Bruce as well. Along the way, Barry makes new metahuman enemies, and he has to utilize all his learnings to stop them from wrecking up his hometown, Central City.
The three series act as a great foundation for highlighting the plot points that can be used for the upcoming movie and letting new readers know the core of the character in a proper way.