In the pages of DC comics lore, the Scarlet Speedster is a champion of Central City and an important component of the Justice League. The Flash thrives on his use of the speed force which grants him lightning-fast speed, a rapid healing factor, and the ability to punish the wicked. Barry Allen’s superhero alias can also travel so fast, that he can speed through time. To the would-be villains ready to get in his way, the Flash poses a rather formidable challenge to overcome.
However, the Flash has a full Rogues Gallery of characters whose bite is far worse than their bark. Because he’s a speedster, many of his villains aim to “trip him up” so to speak or simply keep up with their own speedy capabilities. There’s a wealth of characters who ultimately step into the arena to challenge the Flash and cause chaos in Central City. Most of these villains are among the more outlandish and creatively-designed characters in the world of DC. It’s hard to make something more wild than a hyper-intelligent, telekinetic gorilla, after all. In honor of the Flash headlining his first-ever live-action feature film, let’s look at some of the best villains in the hero’s pantheon.
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Let’s start off with the primate who became rather “gifted” after an encounter with a strange meteorite. Bestowed with more than self-awareness, Grodd became an evil megalomaniac whose hyper-intelligence pushed the boundaries far into the realm of telekinesis. He leads a community of intelligent gorillas who ultimately receive similar gifts in an African locale known as Gorilla City. His first interaction with the Flash becomes hostile after he perceives the speedster as a threat to his power. In the New 52 era, his own kind begins to believe that the Flash is a divine messenger. Grodd won’t have it, and he attempts to foil the Flash at every turn.
Grodd eventually expands his ambitions for control throughout the world. He learns how to transfer his mind into other living beings through his telekinesis enabling him an adept level of infiltration when it comes to Flash and the speedster’s life as a hero. Grodd also gains the capability of controlling the minds of other villains and even heroes to pit against the Flash. There’s no denying that Gorilla Grodd is one of the Flash’s most challenging villains.
Leonard Snart isn’t just a copy and paste of Batman’s villain Mr. Freeze. Though they both claim the icy cold as their trademark and have a freeze-blasting gun to prove it, Snart uses his capabilities to take his arch-nemesis to task in a very different manner. Originally, Snart began a criminal empire as a thief typically avoiding violent crime. However, the Flash quickly proved to be a hurdle and he developed a gun capable of freezing even the smallest presence of air moisture. In the New 52, Captain Cold undergoes a metahuman transformation through experimentation which grants him control over the speed of objects close to him. Now doesn’t that sound rather useful for someone with a mighty fast adversary?
Captain Cold is the Flash’s opposite from a physical perspective. As a representation of sub-zero temperatures, an climate in which molecules drastically slow down in movement, it’s obvious why he’s a challenge for the Flash.
The Flash is hardly the only speedster in the known DC universe. Others will certainly rise to challenge his claim as the fastest man alive. Godspeed, however, is one who walks a grey area in the morality spectrum. He certainly rivals the Flash but for one primary reason. His civilian alter ego is that of August Heart, a former colleague of Barry’s at the CPD. After being struck by lightning from the speed force, similar to Barry, he became a vigilante known as Godspeed.
The only difference between the Flash and Godspeed is that the latter intends to kill the criminals. He’s merciless in his pursuit of justice and the Flash must contend with this speedster who fancies himself as judge, jury, and executioner. This drive for fatal punishment stems from the murder of his own brother, a case he attends to personally as Godspeed. He builds upon his power by stealing speed force from other speedsters he comes into contact with.
If you thought Gorilla Grodd was smart, wait until you get a load of the Thinker. There have been multiple “Thinkers” throughout the course of DC comics. Fans of live-action DC content may recognize the villain in the Clifford Devoe iteration who posed a threat to team Flash in the CW’s The Flash series. If you enjoyed James Gunn’s The Suicide Squadthen you probably associate the character with Peter Capaldi’s (of Dr. Who fame) Gaius Grieves (aka The Thinker) who was the leading researcher on Project Starfish.
In every iteration of the Thinker, the villain uses his extensive brainpower to combat the Flash. His intelligence allows him to predict the future with frightening accuracy enabling him to develop “long-cons” that result in tragedy for the hero. Furthermore, most versions of the Thinker are capable of telepathy and telekinesis.
This villain is actually a product of the distant future. Eobard Thawne is maniacal and twisted when it comes to his fixation on The Flash. After obtaining the power of the speed force willingly, Thawne would put civilians in danger in order to “save the day.” When he finally met his idol, Barry Allen, the Flash saw that he was a threat to others and detained the Reverse-Flash. Thawne’s obsession turned to rage as he grew deeply embittered toward the Flash over the betrayal and began traveling through time to cause problems for the hero.
In fact, the irony of it all is that the Reverse-Flash played a hefty role in Barry Allen becoming who he is. In the Flashpoint storyline, it’s revealed that Eobard as the Reverse-Flash is the one who murdered Barry’s mother when he was a child. Ultimately, the Reverse-Flash is, perhaps, the Flash’s most iconic supervillain. He’s a dark and disturbed mirror image of the hero.