The Flash: Is Barry Allen really a hero?
Barry Allen may be the hero of The Flash, but he’s certainly left a lot of destruction in his wake.
Over the course of three seasons, Barry’s (Grant Gustin) actions have led to devastating consequences. In the season 1 finale, he literally opened an Earth-swallowing breach in the universe while trying to prevent his mother’s death, leading to the arrival of Zoom (Teddy Sears) and the events of season 2. Then, in the season 2 finale, he created an entirely new timeline, Flashpoint, by following through and saving his mother. And he was also inadvertently to blame for the particle accelerator explosion — Eobard Thawne made it happen in order to turn Barry into The Flash in the first place.
Each incident has led to more tragedy, and yet Barry has continued to tinker with the timeline for his own gain. While he’s made mistakes, Barry has always been relatively pure of heart, but his body count begs the question — first raised by our friends over at Screener — is Barry actually the villain of The Flash?
“I can agree with that in a way,” Gustin tells EW. “It’s almost like no matter what choice he makes, he’s set up this domino effect that just being The Flash has created this world of problems for him for the rest of his life.”
But Barry’s sometimes unwise choices are all part of The CW’s super series telling the origin story of the Scarlet Speedster; he’s not yet a finely tuned hero and is still learning from his mistakes. “We always look at The Flash as The Flash Begins,” executive producer Andrew Kreisberg says. “The Flash from the comic books is something we’re going to get to, and that we’re really seeing him from the beginning.”
“Part of the hero’s journey is screwing up really badly,” Kreisberg continues. “The end of last season was about Barry screwing up really badly. The journey for anyone in life because we’ve all made terrible mistakes and we’ve all hurt other people, whether intentionally or not. It’s what you do then that’s what separates you from whether you’re a hero or a villain.”
After creating Flashpoint, the repercussions of which have played out throughout season 3, the question really is how Barry will learn from what he’s done. “Is he realizing that with great power comes great responsibility, as another superhero so eloquently said?” Kreisberg says. “That’s really Barry’s lesson for this season that he takes forward to make him a better hero.”
Barry Allen may be the fastest man alive, but his journey to becoming a full-fledged hero is a series-long arc. Still, Gustin believes Barry has certainly come a long way since the show’s debut. “Barry wears his heart on his sleeve for sure, lets his emotions dictate his actions,” Gustin says while addressing how far Barry will go to save Iris (Candice Patton) from her fate at the hands of Savitar. “I think he’s matured a lot over the past three years. Hopefully he’s growing and making more calculated choices, but we still often are seeing him— I think the emotions get the best of him, and he makes some irrational choices. We’re going to see that, but we’re also going to get a little look through a window at what it would be like if he made some bad choices.”
The Flash airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET on The CW.