Any parent knows how difficult it can be chasing after a running child. But what about when your child’s the World’s Fastest Man? Barry Allen may not be Detective Joe West’s son in the biological sense, but after the death of Barry’s mother and incarceration of his father, the detective takes the young boy under his wing, raising him in his household as a part of his family.
We were curious what it’s like guiding and occasionally disciplining a super hero, and so we sat down with Jesse L. Martin, the acclaimed actor who portrays Joe on The CW’s new Flash series, on a recent visit to the DC Comics office in Burbank to ask him.
Jesse, you’re here at the DC office and you’re clearly having a good time. Do you read comic books?
I was not a comic book kid growing up. Not at all. I’m brand new to it. I’m kind of a comic book virgin. But it doesn’t take away the excitement of it all. I mean, first of all, I’m part of a comic show based on an iconic comic character, which is starting to look really, really phenomenal to me. It’s starting to become the best thing that I’ve ever done, which I’m really geeked about. So I heard tell of this office here and what goes on here, and I just wanted to see it. I’m literally blown away. I can’t believe that this place actually exists.
Do you have a favorite DC super hero?
I really like Superman and Batman. Those are the characters I knew the best as a kid. They had the most exposure. Especially Superman. I used to have a Superman… Well, it was sort of like an art set where you’d get to build the world, the Fortress of Solitude and his house. It was like building little sets. I was really into that as a kid. I just randomly had that in my house. I don’t know how it got there. I didn’t get it as a present. I think my stepfather found it somewhere and probably just put it down on the table and I took over. But yeah, those are the two.
On the subject of super heroes, let’s talk super hero movies. Do you have a favorite one?
I have to say, I’m partial to the first Superman movie with Christopher Reeve because it really is a classic in every sense of the word. It’s the first time that my eyes were opened to the super hero world and the fact that it could work on the big screen. I remember asking myself, how did Superman fly? How did they make that work? It’s definitely the first Superman movie for me.
On The Flash, Barry Allen is something of a surrogate son to your character, Joe West. I don’t know if you have kids, but if you had a biological son who was a super hero, what would you say to him?
It would be a lot of what Joe says to Barry on the show. Yes, he’s a super hero and there’s nothing I can do about that. He’s going to do what he’s going to do with these powers. I’d become something like a “hyper-parent” because now I’m worried about two different people. I’m worried about Barry and I’m worried about the Flash. I’d say I’m even worried a little more about the Flash because he’s more cavalier. When he gets these powers, he’s suddenly like, “I can do anything!” And I’m like, “No, you can’t do anything. You’re still Barry. You might die.”
You’d just become sort of a hyper-parent all of a sudden. You’d never stop worrying, while at the same time, never stop being amazed at what he could do.
Let’s wrap up with the old standby. If you were to have any super power imaginable, which one would be most like you?
I would have to say teleportation. Being able to get somewhere in an instant. I mean not having to run like the Flash does, but just sort of instantly being there. That way you could see all the people you know all over the world in an instant. If there’s a wedding in South Africa, you’d be like, “I’ll be there in two minutes.”
Either that or mind reading.
Mind reading? That might be dangerous in Hollywood.
It could be dangerous anywhere!