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If you thought The Flash‘s time-travel rules were confusing before, you haven’t seen anything yet.
After Barry (Grant Gustin) went back in time to save his mother at the very end of the season-two finale, speculation ran wild that The CW’s superhero drama would be tackling the groundbreaking DC Comics storyline Flashpoint in season three because of that shocking and consequential choice. Gustin later teased fans on Twitter by not divulging the title of the season-three premiere, until showrunner Greg Berlanti gave him permission to reveal the name.
“FLASHPOINT. This is not drill,” Gustin tweeted. “We’re definitely doing this FP thing our own way. I’ve read Flashpoint, I’ve seen the amazing animated film. This will be its own thing.”
But by simply revealing that one word title, Gustin and Berlanti actually disclosed a lot of information about what season three is going to be about. For Flashpoint newbies, the story comes from the 2011 comic book crossover of the same name written by DC Comics boss Geoff Johns. The consequences of Flashpoint reverberated throughout the DC Comics universe, leading the comic giant into a massive re-launch of its titles called “The New 52.” The storyline was most recently brought to life in 2013 with an animated movie titled Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox, which followed the Flashpoint story closely.
The story of Flashpoint follows Barry as he wakes up in an alternate timeline, first believing that the timeline was created by his enemy Reverse-Flash. Barry has no powers, meaning the Flash does not exist in the new timeline, and his mother is alive. Other differences to the timeline include: the Justice League does not exist; Aquaman is at war with Wonder Woman, causing massive death and destruction across the globe; Captain Cold is actually Central City’s biggest hero; Superman has been held captive by the government for most of his life — and thus is not a worldwide hero — Cyborg is the world’s greatest hero instead; and Batman is Thomas Wayne instead of his son Bruce.
Barry later finds out in the story that he is actually at fault for changing history, since he went back in time to save his mother from the Reverse-Flash. He literally pulled the entire speed force into himself to stop his nemesis and save his mother, causing all his allies’ histories to shatter and the world to fall into the brutal Atlantean/Amazonian war. And that’s exactly what Barry did in the series: After saying goodbye to his father (John Wesley Shipp) to Zoom (Teddy Sears), Barry decided he’d lost too much because of his choice to be a hero, and so he went back in time to save his mother Nora (Michelle Harrison).
So what does this mean for The Flash season three? How close with the show follow the comic book storyline in the aftermath of Barry’s choice? One major change could be that Barry loses his powers as a result of altering the timeline. The show has already toyed with this storyline in the past, with the speed force itself forcing Barry to confront his grief over his mother’s death to get his powers back. In Flashpoint, Barry decides to recreate the accident that gave him his powers in the first place, but the first attempt leaves him badly injured and burnt instead. The second attempt heals him and gives him his powers back. But seeing as how The Flash already tackled an equivalent to that story in the back half of season two, it’s highly unlikely it will repeat it again.
Another theory, while also a long shot, is that The Flash could be introducing alternative versions of DC Comics heavyweights such as Superman (different from Supergirl‘s version who will be played by Tyler Hoechlin, since Flashpoint’s Superman is pale and weakened as he has been kept in a windowless room for almost his whole life), Batman, Cyborg and villainous versions of Aquaman and Wonder Woman. For those who believe The Flash can’t do that because of the DC films, remember that there are currently two Barry Allens in the DC universe right now, with Gustin on The CW and Ezra Miller playing the Scarlet Speedster in the forthcoming Justice League movies. There’s no reason why The Flash can’t introduce different versions of other characters too, especially if this is an alternate timeline. And who’s to say Jeffrey Dean Morgan can’t reprise his Batman v. Superman role as Thomas Wayne, but this time as Batman instead of Bruce’s murdered father?
One theory that seems almost guaranteed is that the Reverse-Flash/Eobard Thawne (Matt Letscher) will return for season three. After Barry blames his enemy for altering the timeline, Thawne actually appears to reveal the truth about what happened to Barry. He actually helps Barry to remember his past actions by resetting Barry’s internal vibrations, and then tries to kill him. But — spoiler alert — he doesn’t get far, since Batman steps in and kills Thawne instead. Other characters from Flashpoint that may be introduced on The Flash include Booster Gold, Hal Jordan aka Green Lantern, Captain Thunder (a different version of Captain Marvel), Lois Lane, Enchantress, Zatanna, The Amazons, Kid Flash, Brainiac, Joker, Element Woman and many more.
But what does The Flash doing Flashpoint mean for other shows in the shared Arrow-verse, including Arrow, Legends of Tomorrow, and The CW’s newest acquisition, Supergirl? It could mean nothing, but it could mean everything. Barry could be living out his alternate timeline while the three other shows continue on in their normal timelines, unaffected. Or the new Time Masters on Legends of Tomorrow could step in to help revert The Flash‘s timeline back to normal under the leadership of the Justice Society of America’s Hourman (Patrick J. Adams)? There’s an epic four-show crossover coming this fall, so maybe Flashpoint is the reason why all the heroes will come together.
What are you most excited to see as The Flash tackles Flashpoint? Let us know in the comments section.
The Flash season three premieres Tuesday, Oct. 4 at 8 p.m. on The CW.
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