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The Flash

Everything about ”The Flash” happened fast; producers conceived the spin-off only two months after ”Arrow” premiered in October 2012; they cast the first actor who auditioned to star; now, just two years later, ”The Flash” will debut on The CW as one of fall’s most anticipated shows; and if you give us a couple of quick minutes, we’ll tell you how it happened


In December 2012, exec producers Greg Berlanti and Andrew Kreisberg were hard at work on the first season of Arrow when Berlanti had an idea: a Flash spin-off. Kreisberg recalls replying, ”We just got our hands on this one!” But The CW’s president, Mark Pedowitz, was on board: ”They delivered on Arrow pretty quickly, and the Flash is a DC character that never got his full due.” Plus, while the Flash exists in the Arrow universe, the character has a creative bonus that the buff bowman lacks: super-powers. Yet to pull off a spin-off, the producers needed perfect…

The plan was to introduce the Flash (a.k.a. Barry Allen) in an Arrow arc, but ”if we didn’t cast him correctly, it would have been like transplanting a bad organ into the body,” Berlanti says. Finding a new star seemed infinitely harder than casting his predecessor. ”We already have one show where we have a prototypical, muscle-bound hero,” Kreisberg explains, so for the Flash they needed an actor who could be light, funny, attractive, and likable, yet also have ”pain behind his eyes” — and convincingly beat up hulking bad guys. Enter Grant Gustin, who’d had a breakout turn on Glee. The 24-year-old was the very first to audition for the role, and then ”echoed throughout the entire casting process and never left our minds,” Kreisberg says. Gustin’s tactic was not to play Allen remotely as a tough hero. ”I just tried to be a real guy and leave it at that,” he says. ”Let all the superhero stuff come later.” With the Flash cast, they turned to the…

The Flash was introduced to fans in two Arrow episodes last season. On the first day in the writers’ room after the pilot was greenlit, the staff filled up six dry-erase boards in a brainstorming session with all the cool stuff they wanted to see the Flash do. ”We literally have hundreds and hundreds of crazy ideas to draw from,” Kreisberg says. Yet the superhero was beaten to the pop culture punch on a few of those tricks when X-Men: Days of Future Past premiered this summer with a similar character, Quicksilver. ”Everybody was emailing each other over that opening weekend — but more from a place of feeling like we were on to something,” Berlanti says. And the core of the Flash’s powers was, of course…

The Flash moves way faster than a speeding bullet. The trick is to convincingly show him sprinting around Central City without it looking cheesy. (There are about 200 F/X shots in every episode.) ”We have a whole floor of artists working around the clock. If it looks like it could be on the ’90s version of the show, then we have to do better,” Berlanti says. For Gustin, who quit soccer as a kid because he hated running, that means a lot of time sporting the Flash’s red leather suit, with an actual mask glued to his face. (”I start sweating pretty much as soon as we put it on,” he says.) Gustin often sprints on a treadmill (cranked up to 9.0) set against a greenscreen. ”It’s actually still too slow. I have to overexaggerate my upper body — like really speed up and not take normal steps,” he says. With the special effects in order, producers moved on to…

Comic-book-favorite villains like Captain Cold, General Eiling, and Reverse Flash will appear soon, and there’s already an Arrow crossover planned for episode 4. But Allen’s romantic life will develop more slowly — especially his crush on Iris West (Candice Patton). Likewise, producers will roll out the Flash’s powers over time. A few, such as racing up the side of a building, will be hit in early episodes. Others — time travel, running on water, passing through solid matter — are part of the larger plan for the series. The producers compare Allen to an athlete learning his limits; gradual discovery is part of the fun. Still, don’t expect them to wait too long. ”I think we have to get to stuff faster probably than we otherwise would have,” Kreisberg sighs. ”Everybody is telling stories a lot faster on TV now.” Good thing this show has a hero who can keep up. Oct. 7

Fun Fact The star of the ’90s series, John Wesley Shipp, will turn up on the CW show as Barry’s dad.