The CW’s Flashpoint vs. Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox
**Spoilers ahead for both season 3 of The CW’s The Flash & the animated film**
At the end of season 2 of The Flash, Barry Allen, stricken with grief of the loss of his father, decided to go back in time and save his mother from being killed by the Reverse Flash. The second this happened I (like many other nerdy people) was like “YESSSSSSSS. FLASHPOINT!!!!!”
For those of you who don’t know, Flashpoint in the comic books is one of the Flash’s coolest storylines. Barry goes back in time to save his mother and in doing so creates an alternate timeline, where things aren’t completely different but they aren’t completely the same either. For instance, Batman is not Bruce Wayne but his father, Thomas, because Bruce was the one who was killed instead in the mugging. There is a butterfly effect in changing one aspect of the past that makes this alternate timeline worse off for everyone else, though Barry is happy to have his mom back. Ultimately, Barry has to go back and let his mom die for everything to go back to the way it was.
Right off the bat, the CW’s version of Flashpoint was a disappointment, to say the least. Let me start by saying I understand that adapting a comic book to an animated movie is a very different thing from adapting it into a season long TV show. This changes the pacing of everything. The Flashpoint Paradox fit everything into an hour and a half and The CW has to spread out the storyline. A live action TV show also has the handicap of not being able to afford to license or feature any of the other Justice League members. For instance, in the movie, they were able to incorporate the huge war between Aquaman and Wonder Woman which tears the world apart. There is simply no budget to showcase this huge war and how all the Justice League characters are slightly different.
Going into season 3, I knew those things already, but I was confident they could still deliver a pretty great Flashpoint. With pacing, the CW’s approach (at least 3 episodes in) was focusing on how after Barry tries to revert back to the original timeline, things aren’t still quite the same. I applaud them for this because it really stretches it out past the Flashpoint timeline. However, spending only ONE episode in the flashpoint timeline was not the wisest decision. The CW did not have the Justice League characters but what they do have are rich characters that they could expand upon. I saw the great potential. Making Cisco a douchey playboy billionaire? Genius!!! He was the greatest thing about the Flashpoint timeline. I was cracking up at all his scenes. "No thanks. My money needs me". We needed to see more of this Cisco not just around 6 minutes of screen time! Making Caitlin a boring ophthalmologist was really boring. Making Wally Kid Flash was expected but sadly not expanded upon. In the original timeline Wally is probably going to turn into Kid Flash again but we should have been given a taste of the The Flash and Kid Flash tandem in Flashpoint. There was so much potential to explore a truly different timeline and play with these characters but they did not deliver, which is surprising because they did quite well with the alternate universes in Season 2.
The biggest reason for the CW's take on Flashpoint leaving a bad taste in my mouth comes from the fact it made no sense. The Flashpoint Paradox did a great job in showing how horrible the world was because of Barry's "selfish" decision and as much as it pains him to go back and let his mom die, he has to for the greater good of everyone. Saving thousands of lives was better than saving just one, even if it was his mother. In the CW's version, the West family are the only ones really worse off. Joe is irresponsible and Wally was badly injured. Barry did not even wait to see if Wally would improve in time. Even if Wally would not get better, one life lost is better than so many lives lost thanks to the Reverse Flash’s actions. Not only by reversing Flashpoint was Barry accepting the deaths of both his parents but he was accepting the deaths of all those lives he had saved through having the Reverse Flash in captivity. I did not feel how dire the situation was for Barry to have to go back and reverse everything.
For now, Flash season 3 is off to a rocky start. We can only see how the season continues.