Viewers of the superhero TV show “The Flash” were most likely taken aback by the fate of one character in the show’s recent season premiere.
At the end of the first season of the CW program, the superhero the Flash (Grant Gustin) was attempting to save Central City. And in the newest installment of “Flash,” which premiered its second season on Oct. 6, it was revealed that Ronnie Raymond (Robbie Amell), an acquaintance of the Flash, gave up his life to save the city.
In the season premiere, a character named Atom-Smasher (Adam Copeland) also appeared as a threat to the Flash and someone named Jay Garrick (Teddy Sears) visited the Flash and those who work with him, telling them that they must protect themselves. Jay was aware of the identity of the Flash – the superhero is also known as Barry Allen.
The CW show premiered in 2014 as a spin-off of the network’s show “Arrow,” which centers on the superhero of the same name. As many networks and streaming services have attempted to air well-received superhero TV shows (and not all have succeeded – NBC recently canceled its TV show “Constantine” and critics say Fox’s “Gotham” is uneven), the CW has succeeded with its programs. “Arrow” premiered in 2012 and stars Stephen Amell as Oliver Queen, a wealthy man who also moonlights as a superhero. It performed well enough that the CW decided to premiere a spin-off.
The CW’s programs are demonstrating that a model of airing one show and introducing new characters through that, then giving those characters their own show, can be successful. This strategy was embraced by Marvel Studios, who gave almost all of the superhero team the Avengers their own movies before releasing 2012’s “The Avengers” and had new characters appear in others’ movies – for example, Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) appeared in the “Iron Man” films and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) appeared in the movie “Thor.”
With the CW programs, the Flash appeared in a 2013 episode of “Arrow,” so viewers knew who he was before the character starred in his own show. Meanwhile, the CW is planning a TV show titled “Legends of Tomorrow” that will center on characters who have previously appeared on the Flash such as the physicist Martin Stein (Victor Garber) and the villains Heat Wave (Dominic Purcell) and Captain Cold (Wentworth Miller).
Netflix is following this model with its superhero TV shows as well – it premiered the TV show “Daredevil” earlier this year and the plan is reportedly to debut various new shows about superheroes, including this November’s “Jessica Jones,” before having the characters team up in a series titled “The Defenders.”
This strategy is clearly succeeding for the CW – 'The Flash' is reportedly a success in the ratings and the new show 'Tomorrow' is set to debut in 2016.