“Things aren’t always what they seem. Fear can play tricks on us, making us afraid to change course. Afraid to move on. But usually hidden behind our fears are second chances waiting to be seized. Second chances at life, at glory, at family, at love. And these opportunities don’t come around everyday. So when they do, we have to be brave. Take a chance and grab them when we can.”
-Barry Allen aka “The Flash”
We all have seen some form of superhero movie/TV show at some point. After all, it is the latest and current craze to sweep the entertainment medium. What makes them unique and engaging is the seriously deep and thought provoking ethical issues they bring up. While people may not have “superpowers” in real life, it certainly makes one think about the application of these issues while you watch them. These issues range from ethical scientific experimentation, responsibility and responsible use of power (like political power), how people not like oneself interact with each other, how they should be regulated (if they are a danger to the population), how they should be treated in a population, what rights they should have, the ethics of using very powerful weapons/personnel as a controlled military strike force or SWAT team with/without oversight, and so forth. But I am more interested in the morality side of these movies/shows. These are mostly in the realms of “If you had the power to help someone, would you? Would you help them even if they wronged you or if there was no other choice?” and the list could keep going on for a while. These questions are more relevant to our lives as the social systems that are currently implemented around the world are now bringing it to the forefront. I can hear you ask why already. But to illustrate my point, here is an example: Suppose someone is being thrown under the bus for something at work, but you have proof or recorded everything the higher ups have said or have done . Would you step forward and put in your two-cents to save them? Or would you let them be thrown to the wolves? Or if they knew that you knew they have manufactured evidence to use for their own agenda and tried to threaten you, would you back down and yield to them while accepting the punishment no matter how unfair it is? Or would you stand up and still fight the good fight even if it was essentially a kamikaze defence? These are the kinds of workplace issues that are now cropping up in modern society by the wrong people who are holding back progress.
Anyways, I like The Flash for this reason and can really appreciate that it tackles subjects that are far more understandable/applicable to the real world despite the surreal setting it fits itself in. After all, the function of stories are to teach us ethics, morality, and to make us think about how things might play out or present various viewpoints you might not have considered. In other words, it presents us with various aspects of life we learn to deal with in which Barry Allen is also having to come to terms with despite being a superhero and this is how we, the audience, can associate with him. Moreover, out of all the quotes in the show, I think the most powerful one was the quote mentioned at the start of the article.
Let me explain without giving away many specific spoilers for those that haven’t seen it yet. So consider that a spoiler alert. In the process of going through life, it is basically inevitable that we will make mistakes. In fact, it is basically a guarantee like death and taxes, according to Benjamin Franklin (I apologise for the US reference if you are unfamiliar with US history). In this case, the Flash (aka Barry Allen) has made so many that he just kind of shuts himself off emotionally many times. Some of the other characters do it as well as it is a natural response to emotional pain. Why feel at all when the possibility of emotionally hurting is pretty high and painful? He even makes a statement at one point during the series where he says that every time he feels he scores a victory, he also feels like he loses. Some examples of this is are missed opportunities to free his dad or even trying to confess to the person he loves when she has her eyes on someone else because he was too slow or afraid to act. Not to mention that sometimes he is not fast enough or powerful enough to save someone in time. But as the series progresses, these situations just eat at him and it kind of makes him more upset and more angry as it continues to happen like a non-stop steamroller. It even has the same effect when he keeps being reminded of these events or even when he dwells on them with him being emotionally broken. Not just once but numerous times. Possibly even more times than a regular human being has put up with in a normal life. But what keeps him pushing forward? As far as I can tell, it boils down to one thing: hope. Hope is what keeps a person pushing forward, to persevere in all things. When you despair, that is what drags a person down to doing nothing. Once you fall into despair, desperation, and/or sadness, it is the pit in which you can almost never return. For some, this results into desperate actions whether it is suicide, murder, and so forth. The second main villain, Zoom, is a result of this kind of path when you abandon hope.
But in the case of Barry, he has the support of his friends with whom their bond is virtually unshakeable. Sure, they have had very rough times and due to incidents in alternate timelines and dimensions, it has been rocked it to its very foundations. But in the end, those bonds are what keep Barry going no matter what. This is something we can all take away from this and yes, this is a very corny moral but a very important one. Especially when dealing with people who are contemplating suicide. I’m sure if Barry was on his own, he would’ve ended up becoming another Zoom due to being corrupted by hate, vengeance, and sadness. But the obvious motivation of protecting the others and hope is what kept him from going that way. And along the way, he gets additional chances at life and is now starting to take them. Something I am learning to do myself at this current time and feel is very valuable to us all.
Anyways! In the end, this is an excellent show with great morals and characters as well as a very convoluted plot involving time travel, the multiverse, and dopplegangers. All of this in two complete seasons and arguably the best superhero show I’ve ever seen. I look forward to watching season 3 at some point when it comes out on DVD or blu-ray but I sure hope it gets here in a flash!