While Grant Gustin’s Barry Allen is obviously still front and center on The CW’s The Flash he’s certainly not the show’s only benevolent speedster. Characters from the comics like Wally West, Jay Garrick and Jesse Quick have raced in over the last seven seasons to help battle the forces of evil, and today brings word that another famous speedster hero from DC Comics lore is finally joining The Flash: Bart Allen, a.k.a. Impulse. While it is good to hear that Bart is joining the Arrowverse, I’m actually not as excited about this development as I thought I’d be.
Before going further, let’s go over what we know about what’s being planned for Bart Allen on The Flash. The CW announced that Jordan Fisher, whose credits include Liv and Maddie, Grease: Live and She-Ra and the Princess of Power, has been cast as Bart in a recurring guest role. He’ll debut in The Flash’s 150th episode, a.k.a. Season 7’s 17th episode, and rather than being Barry Allen and Iris West’s grandson like in the comics, he’ll be their son. Fisher’s Bart is described as the “fastest teenager on the planet,” but because of his “penchant for wildly impulsive behavior,” Barry and Iris will have to teach him the value of patience so that the family can stop Team Flash’s “biggest threat yet.”
I’ll start off by saying that it’s about time Bart Allen is finally appearing on The Flash! Way back in 2015, shortly before the Season 1 finale aired, executive producer Greg Berlanti expressed hope that Bart could appear in Season 2, but obviously that didn’t happen. All these years later, it was getting to the point where I was worried The Flash would never include him, but thankfully that’s not the case. Whether he goes by Impulse, Kid Flash or even Flash, Bart has been an integral part of the Flash mythos for nearly 30 years, so it’s good to see that The Flash series will give its own take on the character.
The problem is that this take sounds a lot like what we’ve already got from Nora West-Allen. Although she also went by XS like her comic book counterpart, the Arrowverse’s Nora shared Bart Allen’s personality trait of frequently acting without thinking, which caused a lot of problems in The Flash Season 5. And again, Jordan Fisher’s Bart will be Barry and Iris’ son rather than grandson, so until there’s information provided to the contrary, we can assume that he’ll have grown up in the mid-21st century rather than the 30th century like in the comics, just like what was done with Jessica Parker Kennedy’s Nora. In other words, the way Bart is being handled for The Flash feels like déjà vu.
Given that Nora West-Allen was erased from existence due to the timeline changing after Cicada’s dagger was destroyed in The Flash Season 5 finale, plus accounting for how the Arrowverse has changed post-“Crisis on Infinite Earths,” it narratively makes sense that Barry and Iris to have a son in the new timeline instead. And I’m not saying that I think Jordan Fisher won’t do Bart Allen justice; quite the opposite, I hope he knocks it out of the park. But given how Nora West-Allen character arc unfolded just a few seasons ago, I can’t help feeling that Bart’s inclusion won’t feel as unique compared to if he’d been introduced back in Season 3 or 4, or if Nora had been adapted differently.
Part of me still hopes that there’s a twist in store that reveals that Bart Allen has been living in the 30th century rather than the 21st century. That would allow for his impulsiveness to be dealt with differently compared to Nora’s; in the comics, Bart aged more quickly due to a hyper-accelerated metabolism, so to ensure he didn’t suffer from mental health problems, he was raised in a virtual reality environment that kept pace with his sense of time. Eventually Bart’s metabolism was shocked back to normal levels, but because there was no danger in the environment he grew up in, Bart’s early superheroics in the real world often saw him taking action without thinking about the consequences first. It would be great if The Flash could incorporate this aspect of Bart’s background somehow.
Even though The Flash has been renewed for an eighth season, there’s no question that the series is close to the end, so I’m thankful that Bart Allen is getting an opportunity to shine on it before all is said and done. But with everything we got with in Season 5, Bart now faces more of an uphill battle in standing out, so hopefully the writers have come up with ways to ensure that won’t be an issue. With this marking Bart’s first live-action platform to shine on since Kyle Gallner played him on Smallville, it’s important that Jordan Fisher’s Bart leave a positive impression on both longtime fans of the character and those who are learning about him for the first time.