For five years, starting with THE FLASH #164 back in 2000 and wrapping up with THE FLASH #225 in 2005, Geoff Johns wrote what’s now come to be seen as a defining run for the Flash. Noteworthy not just for its fast-paced action and memorable storylines, Johns’ Flash unlocked new depth of character for many of the Flash’s supporting cast, and particularly his villains. By developing or further enriching their desires, motivations and flaws, the men and women who live to antagonize the Scarlet Speedster were brought to life in ways they’d never been before, giving the Flash a rogues gallery to rival even the Dark Knight’s.
Now, as an Executive Producer on The Flash, The CW’s adaptation of the long-running comic series, Johns will assist in doing much the same thing, only this time in the far-reaching realm of primetime, network TV. We recently asked Geoff Johns if he’d mind sharing some thoughts on the Flash’s cast of super-villains, and particularly Captain Cold and the Rogues, the cold gun touting thief and his team of working class baddies who work together to make a dishonest dollar in a city patrolled by the Fastest Man Alive…
Leonard Snart was a career criminal who would pull heists and often work with a crew, until one day this blur, this speedster, shows up and suddenly he has to contend with this brand new thing called a super hero who’s stopping criminals like him from doing what they do. In order to continue, Snart has to up his game. He’s not a scientist. He’s not a doctor. He’s a career criminal. So he steals a cold gun that’s capable of slowing things down to absolute zero.
The thing that makes Snart so interesting to me is that cold is actually the opposite of speed. We talk about this a bit in the [Captain Cold] episode. Speed is defined by how fast things are moving. Temperature is also defined by the same thing—how fast things are moving at the atomic level. The faster they’re moving, the warmer something is. When things stop moving at the atomic level, the lower temperature it has. It’s called absolute zero when there’s absolutely no movement at all.
That I found very fascinating. Temperature and speed—it was all connected. Cold was essentially the opposite of Barry Allen in every way. He was a normal person who had to equip himself to become more than he was.
The character doesn’t want to rule the world. He doesn’t necessarily want to kill the Flash because, at the end of the day, the Flash is celebrated by everybody, and killing him would bring a lot of heat. Also, he’s not a killer. He just wants to pull his jobs and continue doing what he’s doing, and in order to work in a city that’s protected by a super hero, he has to become something more than he is. Until finally, working alone isn’t enough and he has to gather with others that are in the same situation. Like Heat Wave, a pyromaniac who Snart’s worked with before.
Everyone knows that Mick Rory, AKA Heat Wave, has a problem. His love for fire and the arsonist that he is will often divert him away from the mission at hand. But Cold is able to wrangle that pyromaniac. He gives him a heat gun and basically gives him a gimmick. He tells him that if he holds on to the gimmick, he’s not going to be sick anymore. He’ll fit in and belong.
He does that with each one of the Rogues. When he brings in Axel Walker, the Trickster, he’s a kid who’s out of control. He doesn’t have any focus, and Cold brings him focus. Same with someone like Mark Mardon, the Weather Wizard, who’s obsessed by guilt because of the way he got the weather wand. His brother’s death is really a big part of who he is.
It goes on and on with all the Rogues and we’ve talked about a lot of these characters and bringing them onto the show. They work for The Flash because only someone like the Flash could take on five guys at once. What Greg Berlanti, Andrew Kreisberg and I are trying to do is slowly bring in these wonderful villains, and really they become characters all their own. They have their own stories. They’re more than just villains-of-the-week characters. They’re a part of this world. They live in this world, and we’ll be seeing them again and again.