Goodbye to the Flash, long live the Arrowverse

The End of an Arrowverse Era: Grant Gustin Bids Farewell to The Flash

Grant Gustin’s casting as Barry Allen a.k.a The Flash from The CW’s Arrow marked a turning point for the superhero soap and paved the way for the Arrowverse’s ambitious small-screen take on DC Comics’ expansive universe. After nine seasons and 184 episodes, Gustin has said goodbye to his decade-long tenure as the scarlet speedster in the finale episode, “A New World: Part Four,” alongside the end of the Arrowverse. Despite the less-than-ideal conclusion, Gustin’s role played a significant part in expanding the idea of what superhero adaptations could look like in the 2010s.

Breaking away from the grounded aesthetic of Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy and the early MCU’s buoyantly fun tone, The Flash embraced the bombast and absurdity of its comic book source material from the beginning. The Flash celebrated its superhuman characters, while its predecessor, Arrow, strayed from them. Gustin’s performance as Barry was a big reason why the show’s comic book fever dream translated so well on screen.

The Arrowverse’s foundation was built on Gustin’s boyish charm and enthusiasm, providing the perfect vehicle to sell four-color comic book plots. Despite the show’s grim turns, the audience remained hooked thanks to Gustin’s character’s smiling and unrelenting commitment to doing good in the world.

While it’s no secret that The Flash, passed from showrunner to showrunner over the years, has lost some of its luster, Gustin’s portrayal of Barry remained steadfast. As the show returned repeatedly to Barry’s defining tragedy – the loss of his mother in his childhood – Gustin’s performance also became increasingly hampered. The role never fully recovered, and the story never quite found the right characters to surround Barry in his quest to connect.

As one of the last-standing shows in the Arrowverse lineup, The Flash ultimately seemed tired at the end of its tenth season. Despite its lackluster finale, the show’s legacy as one of the most surprising and entertaining superhero adaptations in the genre will be remembered fondly by fans.