Superheroes generally live bleak existences, sacrificing themselves for the sake of others. The Flash’s latest episode explored how they make this decision. But what if they chose to save themselves instead? What then?
The Flash’s main crew of characters have been through quite the ringer lately and it’s not getting any easier for them. They’re also dealing with a possible world without their favorite speedster in it. Every member of the team is handling the loss in their own way, though it’s Joe West (Jesse L. Martin) who possesses the most profound take on the situation.
When it comes time for Joe and Barry (Grant Gustin) to discuss the future, CCPD’s Police Chief brings up the intriguing point that heroes don’t get to go home after they’re done saving the world. Joe emphasizes that police officers retire after 30 years and then go home to their families, but superheroes like Barry, wind up getting the short end of the stick. And to some degree, he’s right.
It’s no secret that superheroes tend to live tragic existences. Practically every hero in comic book lore features some type of unfortunate story, be it prior to their superhero careers or shortly after. Barry Allen is witnessing the same first hand, realizing that he can’t avoid his own demise. He can save everyone else, but as the hero, he has to sacrifice himself for them to live.
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What’s of intrigue is why Barry and heroes like him don’t give up and save themselves. Heroes deserve salvation, as everyone does, so why doesn’t Barry take the route less traveled and focus on his own life? The obvious reason is that the world will end without Barry’s sacrifice. Though the more practical one is that he wouldn’t be able to live with himself if he let the Multiverse be erased.
You may be asking yourself how Barry Allen could avoid facing the same erasure as his friends and family, and the answer is simple: Time travel. Barry can only travel to the past since an antimatter barrier is blocking the future so there’s only one direction he can go in. The interesting thing is that Barry could circumvent the “Crisis On Infinite Earths” event by traveling back to an earlier date. Of course, he’d merely be delaying the inevitable.
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Why do superheroes have to die?
The biggest takeaway from all of this is that Barry Allen can avoid an untimely demise if he truly wants to. Barry doesn’t because his friends’ survival depends on him. And, he wouldn’t be able to live with himself if he cowered in a previous era while the Monitor (LaMonica Garrett) erased his friends and family.
With that being said, Barry’s willingness to confront death confirms why he’s a superhero and not just a vigilante. Plenty of metahumans have taken up arms to fight villains alongside Team Flash but not many can be called superheroes. Barry, however, has earned that title and then some.
What were your thoughts on The Flash’s Halloween episode? Let us know in the comments.
The Flash airs Tuesdays on The CW. “Crisis On Infinite Earths” begins with Supergirl on Dec. 8, 2019.