It's taken three seasons, but we'll finally be seeing a different kind of main villain on The Flash. Rather than simply a dark mirror of Barry Allen, Season 4 will pit him against the man with the fastest mind in the world: The Thinker. Clifford DeVoe will pose a threat that the Fastest Man Alive can't simply outrun, and the fans couldn't be happier about this revelation.
After our first glimpse of The Thinker in the Season 4 premiere, we're definitely looking forward to seeing more of him. After the Reverse Flash in Season 1, Zoom in Season 2 and Savitar in Season 3, each year Barry was confronted with an enemy who was faster than him; they were also much more experienced with their abilities and were able to do things Barry hadn't learned yet.
Speaking to comicbook.com, The Flash showrunner, Todd Helbing explained that it wasn't only the fans who were growing weary at speedster villains:
"I think having Zoom and then followed up by Savitar, you know, I can understand that feeling. It's because trying to reinvent, you know, like a new power for an evil speedster or what they can do ... Like we can't have it just who's faster for the entirety of a series."
A Different Approach Was Necessary
Barry seemed to go through the same character arc in every season: gaining confidence in his powers, discovering that someone was faster than him and then doing everything possible to get fast enough to beat him. While there were different approaches with all of the villains, it was plain to see that Barry needed a different kind of enemy to face. This is where DeVoe comes in.
Though we've seen a number of the Flash's rogues gallery appear as a villain-of-the-week, there are still so many more that could appear. Arguably, we were done a disservice by having Barry confront yet another dark mirror of himself (literally in Savitar's case). Certain rogues have gone on to appear more than once, The Trickster, Mirror Master and Top are examples of this, but the vast majority were one-offs that were usually defeated or captured by the end of the episode.
Perhaps the best of the rogues are Captain Cold and Heatwave who have featured multiple times across the #Arrowverse; they were so popular that they were recruited as part of the #LegendsOfTomorrow. While this was a good thing as it meant that we got to see more of Wentworth Miller and Dominic Purcell's characters interacting, it also took them away from appearing more frequently on The Flash, which robbed us of some more villains.
Too Many Speedsters
Let's face it, if Central City had a sprinting team, they'd wipe the floor with everyone, no doubt about it. There's simply too many speedsters in the city. Not only do we have #BarryAllen, the original Flash, but we also have Wally West's #KidFlash regularly patrolling the streets of Central City. Add to that occasional assistance from Jessie Quick and the real Jay Garrick, there's four straight off the bat.
In terms of villains, we've had the aforementioned Reverse Flash, Zoom and Savitar, who were the main antagonists of the first three seasons. "Flashpoint" gave us The Rival at the start of Season 3 and during Season 2 we also had Trajectory running around causing havoc. There's an argument that the Jay Garrick we meet at the start of Season 2 could be included in this list as well. Seriously, how fast does one city need to go?
Helbing goes on to say that although there's one villain he'd like to see return, he's excited by the possibilities DeVoe brings:
"But I mean there's certainly speedsters in the cannon of Flash that we want to explore and we want on the show and everybody... Like Reverse Flash to me personally is one of my favorite villains, one of my favorite speedsters, so I'd love that guy to pop up now and then, you know what I mean? But I think it was refreshing, and it's just been a lot of fun this year not having to constantly come up with new ideas of how a speedster could pose a threat to Barry. So, it's fun, and it's new, and it's a new challenge, but I think having speedsters in the mythology of the show is never going to change."
While speedsters will always play a part in The Flash, it's nice to see that we'll be stepping away from them for a while. With Barry and Wally both suiting up this season, there's enough speedsters in Central City for the time being. With Barry being reborn in the premiere and returning faster than ever, it'll be nice to see how he copes with the man with the fastest mind in the world.
The Flash airs Tuesdays on The CW.
Are you glad to see non-speedster villains? Let me know in the comments!