This week featured the “crossover event” of two comic book TV shows. They are The Flash and Arrow, both on the CW Network. They star two DC superheroes, the Flash and Green Arrow. The Flash is a newly spinoff show (debuted this season) of Arrow (now in its third season). They are different shows with different environments but have a “shared universe” (as in they are connected and interact with each other as opposed to another DC show on TV right now, Gotham).
The two night events (last night and tonight) was not the first time the two shows interacted. Last season on Arrow, Barry Allen was introduced as a character (pre acquisition of his powers) as well as the introduction of two supporting characters Caitlin Snow and Cisco Ramon. The season premiere of The Flash featured a cameo by Oliver Queen/Arrow as well as an early season guest appearance by Felicity Smoak (a part of Team Arrow).
The Flash episode was appropriately entitled “Flash vs. Arrow”. It featured what you would expect in pairing of two superheroes, a fight. The fight (which was brought on by Barry being affected by a metahuman) ended in a draw but was a valuable lesson to Barry. The Arrow episode was entitled “The Brave and the Bold”. For those that don’t know, that is the title of a comic book series that featured superheroes pairing up to fight villains. This episode was more of the Flash and Arrow working together, but not without some tension and disagreement.
There is a dynamic between the two which lends itself to good storytelling. This is because not only of their stark differences but also their shared commonalities. The differences are somewhat obvious. Barry has superpowers (super speed/quick healing) and Oliver does not. Barry has to fight villains that are meta humans (for the most part) and Oliver does not (for the most part). The cities in which they live (Barry and Central City/Oliver and Starling City) are a reflection of them and are in contrast.
However, both have experienced great loss. Both have seen their mothers killed in front of them. Both have a team around them that helps them in their fight (Barry has Caitlin, Cisco, Dr. Harrison Wells and Det. Joe West while Oliver has Felicity, John Diggle and Roy Harper). Both are in love with someone they can’t be with at the moment (Barry with Iris West/Oliver with Felicity or Laurel Lance depending on the season).
I’ve always been a fan of the character of The Flash and I think the TV show has done a great job depicting Barry as the superhero as well as the “alter ego”. He is a balance to Oliver Queen/Arrow who is darker but yet is still a hero. Both learn from each other about being a hero. Barry learns from Oliver about not rushing into danger but knowing what the dangers are. Oliver learns from Barry about being hope to others.
It is true that when you bring Barry types together with Oliver types that you do have conflict. However, there is also a lot of good that can come about the pairing. Because the things that make Barry Allen special help where Oliver Queen isn’t good at and vice versa. It makes for good storytelling and in real life it helps people grow and do good.