One of the things that The Flash does best is to tease out the introduction of well-known villains over several episodes. From hearing Heatwave in a bar to Captain Cold's greeting of his sister the Golden Glider, the Rogue's Gallery has been building up slowly, giving long-time fans a reason to squeee, and newcomers the time to wonder (and maybe start to learn a little more about the comic books).
Next on the list of big names to the show is Gorilla Grodd, who has been teased twice already, and now has his own teaser-trailer, courtesy of Entertainment Weekly.
We've already seen some of the shots in the teaser, most recently the scene in the sewers, where Grodd has been scrawling his name on the walls and taking down hapless workers, but let's not forget his appearance in episode 5 "Plastique."
Now we know that Grodd will be on our screens in full force very soon, I have to wonder how the writers are taking on such an interesting villain.
Who is Grodd?
For those who aren't aware, Grodd is a regular foe for the Flash in the comics (although usually the Wally West Flash, interestingly), a super-intelligent and telepathic gorilla from Gorilla City, an entire society of apes who were altered after a spaceship crashed nearby. Grodd is routinely trying to take over both Gorilla City and the world, but, like most comic book villains, just can't make it happen. Grodd also has a "good" counterpart in Gorilla City, the ruler Solovar, who worked with Barry Allen to try and bring Grodd to justice.
It's one of the less realistic villain origins in the comic world (though not the least by a long shot!) and despite The Flash involving true superpowers, I don't think that the show will actually be referencing Gorilla City and spaceship crashes any time soon.
Instead, what we have seen already suggests that Grodd was an ordinary (ish) ape brought to Harrison Wells for experimental purposes. Working with the army, the most logical assumption is that Grodd was intended as an animal soldier or spy (something that has actually happened, although not with apes). After Wells puts a stop to the original plan, he tells the caged ape that, "I have a different future in mind for you," suggesting that he is the reason for Grodd's exceptional brain.
What does the change in origin mean for the show?
I really love the idea of making Grodd the result of experimentation, and connecting him to Wells, rather than having him land in Central City with no links to anything currently happening.
For one thing, it makes a nice change from the meta-humans created by the accelerator. Obviously, that night is a pivotal part of the show, and it explains why there is suddenly a vast horde of super-villains. It lets us see really awesome powers, and really hammers home the point that Barry is a good person for being essentially the only person not using his powers for evil (or at least, selfishness). That said, it's nice to switch it up from time to time, and this will definitely do the trick.
This will also help explain that huge question: who the heck is Harrison Wells?We've hit the long run up to the season finale (where you just know that we'll be finding out about his reverse-flashiness) and I want to see more of his backstory doled out. The Pied Piper did this in a small way, but Grodd is going to take us to a time before Star Labs, and that's where the really juicy stuff is! What else was he doing with the military? How far does this go? Were there other experiments? People need to know!
It makes Grodd a more convincing villain
Finally, it makes him a much more complicated and sympathetic bad guy, and that's always more interesting to watch. In the original material, he's just a megalomaniac trying to take over the world. He hates basically all humans (although he'll work with them in order to take down a human he hates even more) and is just a big furry...expletive. Now, he's a victim. He was captured, tortured, experimented on to the extent that Harrison willing-to-kill-and-you-know-it Wells called a halt to it.
There's an automatic sympathy for animals used in experimentation, especially for the more intelligent and humanoid subjects. We're also going to assume that he's the only one of his kind - this Grodd doesn't have Gorilla City to return to and live with others like him; he's a freak, an anomaly, more intelligent than most humans but forced to hide and live in the sewer. How could you not feel for him, at least a little bit? It's hard to blame him for wanting to lash out at the people who turned him into what he is now.
Of course, he won't be totally sympathetic, because he'll still rip your face off for the fun of it. It's an amazing balance between feeling sorry for this victim, tortured by a guy who we have some serious suspicions about already, but from what we've seen, he's going to be incredibly violent and flat-out scary.
One of the more terrifying elements of Grodd as an enemy is his animal nature. Ape movies are a horror sub-genre for a reason - huge, fanged creatures are freaking. Scary. Barry is going to have to fight someone who isn't human, who may have the intelligence, but doesn't have the same emotional weaknesses or motivations. It's going to be incredible.
We still don't have confirmation of when Grodd will be villain-of-the-day, but the release of a teaser trailer makes me think it has to be pretty soon. This may also mark the start of a steady drip of information about Wells, leading up to his reveal as the man in the yellow suit. I also believe that this means that Grodd will become a recurring villain for the Flash, maybe even joining the Rogues Gallery in time. However they decide to play it, I just can't wait to see it!
What do you think? Are you stoked to see Grodd making an appearance? How do you feel about the changes to his backstory? Comment and let me know!