For more than 70 years, Batman has remained top dog when it comes to popular superheroes. Just look at how many times he has been adapted: nine animated series, nine live-action films (with plenty more coming thanks to the DCEU), a multitude of video games, too many animated shows and movies to count, and even the 1960s Adam West version!
Bats will never go away — but in recent years, it seems like the spotlight has shined on lesser-known heroes as well, such as the Guardians of the Galaxy, Suicide Squad, Ant-Man, Doctor Strange, etc. And the one who seems to stand out the most is the Scarlet Speedster himself: The Flash.
Sure, Flash Has Always Been Popular — But Not Like He Is Now
As one of the seven quintessential members of the Justice League, Flash may have been famous all along, but he's never been anywhere near the same level of popular as Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman until recently. Over the past 15 years, he's slowly but surely evolved into a character that both comic book fans and general audiences love.
I think it all began with the Justice League/Justice League: Unlimited animated series from the early 2000s, which had some Flash-centric moments and episodes that have become iconic, such as when he broke out of a prison cell on an alternate Earth or ran around the Earth so fast that when he punched a villain, it was a devastating blow.
The animated series version of the character definitely brought him to the eyes of general audiences, which led to Justice League: The New Frontier, featuring Neil Patrick Harris as the voice of Barry Allen — and while he didn't have the biggest part in the film, he was definitely a highlight.
If you were to ask me where Flash's popularity began to get a giant boost, I would certainly answer with Flashpoint Paradox. It is often considered one of the best DC Animated Universe films and for good reason; it showed us Barry Allen's origin, gave us an entire character arc with him, depicted his powers in the most epic of ways, and adapted one of the best stories from the comics to near perfection, which blended together for just a stellar film.
The CW Makes Flash A Star
The Flash's true breakthrough moment came when Grant Gustin appeared as Barry Allen on The CW's Arrow and then his own series about Central City's red streak.
At first I thought the show was doomed from the start. The suit looked awful, and the fact that I already had harsh feelings towards Arrow did not give me much confidence in a Flash series — but then the pilot premiered and blew me away. It was awesome, fun and not filled with characters that frustrate me. *cough* Felicity Smoak *cough*
Most of the world thought this way too, because the series is now on its third season and has been labeled as the king of superhero shows. Turns out Flash has as many sidekicks and memorable supporting characters as Batman does, along with as many villains that are quickly becoming iconic like Reverse Flash, Captain Cold, Captain Boomerang, Killer Frost and Gorilla Grodd.
The show has solidified the Flash as a staple of pop culture — and if you ask me, it is about damn time; the Flash has deserved to be this famous for several decades now.
It Was Only A Matter Of Time Until Hollywood Noticed Him
In the epic but divisive Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, we were given quick cameos of future Justice League members via videos found by Bruce Wayne, and one of them featured the DC Extended Universe's version of Barry Allen, played by Ezra Miller
This wouldn't be the last time we saw Ezra's Barry Allen appear before he gets his big debut in Justice League. In Suicide Squad, the Flash makes yet another QUICK appearance when we see how Jai Courtney's Captain Boomerang was apprehended, which made sense because Captain Boomerang is known as a Flash villain. And thus we got our first look at Ezra Miller's Barry in his suit.
They could have had any Justice League members cameo in Suicide Squad, but they chose Batman and the Flash — perhaps their two most popular heroes at the moment.
And finally we have the Justice League movie coming out next year. At San Diego Comic-Con 2016, Zack Snyder and Co. decided to surprise fans by actually showing us a trailer for the film and BOY was it a satisfying one! It could have easily put all the focus on Superman and Wonder Woman (who are arguably the main characters) but instead the biggest highlights are once again Batman and Flash...in the same scene!
So if ALL of this isn't evidence of Flash becoming one of the most popular superheroes in history, I don't know what is. Sure, Batman is still the most popular hero out there, but I think after Justice League and the Flash movie, we could see Flash continue to evolve to Bruce Wayne's level of popularity.
What do you think? Is Flash the right superhero for today? Are you looking forward to Ezra Miller's portrayal? Let us know in the comments below!
Justice League hits theaters on November 14th, 2017.