This article contains spoilers.
On The CW’s The Flash, Iris (Candice Patton) thinks Barry (Grant Gustin) is going on a sabbatical. She couldn’t be more wrong. Instead, Barry has gone off to change everything. Sacrificing his future with Iris for a life with his mother, in the Season 2 finale of The Flash, “The Race of His Life,” Barry races back in time to the night his mother died at the hands of Harrison Wells (or rather, Eobard Thawne), a.k.a. Reverse-Flash, and stops him from killing her. Nora Allen, whose death put Barry on the path to becoming the superhero the Flash, is now alive in DC’s TV universe.
That’s not a good thing.
There are immediate similarities to The Flash’s season finale to DC Comics’ major 2011 storyline Flashpoint, written by now-DC movies head Geoff Johns. In that story, Barry Allen, a.k.a. the Flash, awakes in an alternate present, when his mother is alive but the DC universe is radically different and on the brink of apocalypse.
Wonder Woman and Aquaman are quarreling ex-lovers whose war threatens Earth to extinction. Instead of Bruce Wayne, his father Thomas is Batman with a violent streak, while Cyborg is the world’s greatest superhero. Superman doesn’t exist, and neither does the Flash. Barry Allen is just a regular guy, with no superpowers, going to dinner with his mom.
Spoilers for non-readers: the person behind Flashpoint was Eobard Thawne, the Reverse-Flash, whose connection to the Speed Force allowed him to go back in time and ruin Barry’s life. Barry chases after Thawne and stops him from killing his mother, affecting the timeline. Barry travels once again to merge with his earlier self to stop the attempt on Thawne, and learns from the immortal Pandora about other universes. Barry then unites the timelines into a third, new timeline.
While mostly showing off a novel, alternate status quo, Flashpoint enabled DC to transition into the New 52 which itself is being refreshed in DC’s Rebirth. The winds of change are blowing, be it behind the scenes (there are a ton of shake-ups going on at Warner Bros.) as well as on the comics page.
But how big of a change will happen on DC TV when Supergirl joins Arrow, The Flash, and Legends of Tomorrow on the CW this fall? So much thus far has depended on Barry as the Flash, but if Nora’s safety derails Flash’s superhero history then how different will Arrow or Supergirl become?
An Arrowverse without the Flash would be a dark one, and not just because The Flash is a generally light-hearted series. Without the Flash, the Green Arrow would have been SOL in his Season 3 showdown with Ra’s Al Ghul. Central City would have fallen to most of its meta-human criminals, and the likes of Captain Cold and Firestorm wouldn’t have gone on to join Rip Hunter in Legends of Tomorrow (although there could be some mumbo jumbo time paradox to keep them there). But Supergirl definitely wouldn’t have had any help against Siobhan and Livewire — could this be how Supergirl writes off Calista Flockhart’s Cat Grant? Could Flashpoint actually be the massive, four-series cross-over teased by DC last week at the CW upfronts?
If only we could travel through the Speed Force and find out right now.