***Beware: Spoilers Ahead***
Let’s be real. Comic book companies tend to take notes from each other. No such greater example exists than that of Marvel and DC. DC was obviously here first and if you check out the history of their development, you’ll see that a lot of their writers and talent eventually went on to Marvel for varied personal reasons.
Thus, it comes as no surprise that doppelgänger characters started to pop up soon after such changes. Notable examples include Deathstroke (DC) and Deadpool (Marvel). Green Arrow (DC) and Hawkeye (Marvel). Superman (DC) and Sentry (Marvel) and/or Thor (Marvel). Martian Manhunter and The Vision (Marvel). Catwoman (DC) and Black Cat (Marvel).
Like, I could go on.
That said, it seems to me that lately, this inspiration is not, in fact, one-sided. Indeed, DC TV fans in particular will remember one such example of DC taking notes from Marvel in their TV rendition of Ray Palmer/The Atom. Last year, Ray Palmer/The Atom caught some good-natured flack from comic fans for being a Discount Iron Man.
Arrow additionally proved that intra-comic book inspiration was possible too. [Green] Arrow himself was the source of similar complaints in that he (with the exception of the stories surrounding his parents) has very much been portrayed as Batman-lite, especially as he takes on most of Batman’s rogue’s gallery (the rogues that they can afford on television at least) and his brooding nature (which is far removed from the Care-Free, rich, playboy Oliver that most are used to).
Of course, Arrow’s not the only show making some similar cross-comic book company parallels. The Flash recently joined in on the fun with its episode “Darkness and Light”. In this episode, Harrison Wells (Earth 2) returns and is confronted by Jay Garrick in dramatic fashion. While watching this unfold, I immediately thought:
“Wow. This totally reminds me of the animosity between Tony Stark and Steve Rodgers in The Avengers.”
“And I LOVE IT.”
I know, I know. Many of you will probably assume that I didn’t stretch before reaching that far but hear me out. I mean, if you start to really look at key scenes during this episode, you’ll see that I may be on to something. But before we do that, let’s do some brief character breakdowns.
Starting with Wells, Wells is a rich, genius philanthropist, much like Tony. I hesitate to call Wells a playboy because I don’t even know him like that yet (and having a kid in the picture puts some things in perspective). Both, while brilliant, have this inexplainable compulsion to address everything with snark and sarcasm and both accuse their do-gooder counterparts (Jay and Steve) of being too by the book.
Jay and Steve are a bit different. Both are old-fashioned, tall, blonde, and at peak physical condition. They do things by the book even if others don’t like it (enter Wells and Tony, the dudes who don’t like it). Both realize the incredible burden they have by trying to do good and don’t like to deviate from that. In addition to having similar moral alignments, Jay and Cap are also—strangely enough—“men out of time”. Cap himself was sent 70 years into the future after being frozen in ice after a climactic battle with The Red Skull and Jay found his way to Barry’s universe (Earth 1) after being sent there by the singularity (which coincidentally prevented his death at the hand of Zoom).
Both incidents also caused these two pinnacles of virtue hefty prices. Whereas Cap accidentally outlived most of his friends and loved ones, Jay lost his powers and, by extension, an important part of his identity.
So, as one can see, both Jay and Wells and Tony and Steve are wildly different; so, it should come as no shock that the both pairs of men butt heads with each other A LOT. We obviously saw Tony and Steve butt heads in The Avengers (and if you don’t remember, you can view it here), but I wanted to revisit the moments in “Darkness and Light” where Jay and Wells clashed.
The Press Conference
The Flash composed yet another well-done opening sequence by opening the episode with a flashback to a press conference that took place in Earth 2. During this conference, Wells waxes poetic about the appearance of Metahumans in the city and explains to the denizens of Central City how he has built equipment to detect them.
Soon, Jay shows up and takes Wells to task for being the one who created him, Zoom, and the rest of the Metahumans that he is bent on sneakily profiting off of (gotta love capitalism *le sigh*). Not to be embarrassed in his own domain, Wells puts the onus back on Jay and says that it is his responsibility to stop Zoom since he is the “superhero” (I’m like 99.9999999999999% he says this ironically). Jay gives Wells a look that basically says that he ain’t sh*t before bouncing.
The Initial Scene in the Lab
The tension that is felt in the opening sequence eventually spills over to the present day Earth 1 scene where Jay and Wells meet again. Even though Wells talks at length about having crossed over into Earth 1 to atone for his sins in Earth 2 (re: creating Zoom and the other Metahumans) by helping Barry and his squad, Jay is not having it, especially since Wells’ “atonement plan” includes bringing the all-powerful Zoom to Earth 1.
Jay decries Wells and his plan as “insane”, which is not unlike Steve asking Tony if he was “nuts” in after several failed attempts at getting Bruce Banner to hulk out.
Their contention comes to a head when Dr. Light (the villain of the week) kills an innocent civilian, and Wells goes all “I told you so” on Jay after Jay initially defended Dr. Light and insisted that she wasn’t a killer.
Wells takes it a step further by blaming everything on Jay (typical), basically calling Jay a bad hero, and then straight-up calling him a coward. Unlike in The Avengers where similarly exchanged words would result in a fight that would not come to fruition (although, Civil War promises that that won’t be the case), this exchange results in some punches being thrown and Barry having to calm down the madness.
Through these three scenes alone, I found the similarities between Tony and Steve and Jay and Wells super uncanny. For instance, like Steve, Jay sees the VERY best in people, even if that is not necessarily advantageous for the situation that he is in (compare this Dr. Light situation to that of Steve explaining to a technically untrustworthy Black Widow why he trusts her in The Winter Soldier). Tony (and Wells) is the opposite and sees the worst in people (this includes himself). Both question the other for thinking so, causing Tony/Wells to think that Steve/Jay is a naive, do-gooder and causing Cap to think Tony/Wells is a self-serving, egotistical narcissist.
These beliefs thus create an opening for underlying anger and resentment to come through, no matter if it’s warranted or not. In the example of Tony vs Steve, I don’t think Tony will ever say it explicitly, but I think he really resents Steve for having been around to have a close relationship with his dad Howard (re: “that’s the guy my dad wouldn’t stop going on and on about?”). What’s more, Cap’s extremely strict sense of morality makes Tony feel some type of way, seeing as it is damn near unattainable and makes him realize how morally gray he is (re: Tony getting upset at Nick Fury for referring to the group as heroes post-Phil’s “death”). This is why he continually dogged Cap out and mocked him for being a hero (“Everything special about you came out of a bottle!”). He wants to be one on the DL, but recognizes that he isn’t one (up until the end The Avengers, that is).
Cap himself can’t seem to understand where Tony’s gross insubordination (re: hacking into SHIELD) comes from or why he has a huge chip on his shoulder about trying to assert himself. All he knows (or rather believes) is that Tony doesn’t take sh*t seriously and thus is a danger to everyone around him (re: trying to get Bruce to hulk out). This is further compounded by the fact that while Tony thinks himself to be a decent person (re: clean energy), Steve does not think so and finds him hypocritical for believing that (re: Tony trying to erase his past as a weapons dealer with clean energy; “I’m sure Stark would still be neck-deep in [weapons] if he still made them”).
In the case of Wells vs Jay, I’d say the feelings of resentment are similar, sans the daddy issues. Referencing the press conference, it is true that Wells dismisses Jay’s calls to take responsibility over creating Zoom (what is it with geniuses creating monsters???) by invoking cockiness and bravado. Yet, I very much do think that Wells feels deeply, deeply guilty (especially when viewers find out why he’s in Earth 1 to begin with) over what he did. Still, he’s not about to let do-gooder Jay know that; so he insults Jay’s superhero abilities, just like Tony belittles Steve’s.
Jay, like Cap, sees Wells as a loose canon and views his refusal to assume responsibility for the creation of Zoom as a sin of the highest order. Because of this, Jay sees fit to continually distrust him, regardless of if he makes a good point or not (re: Wells explaining that Zoom makes people do bad things). He also sees Wells as hypocritical regardless of his recent about-face and his so-called commitment to righting his wrongs.
It’s a series of messy situations that eventually resolve themselves in The Avengers (though this will surely be undone in Civil War). But it is yet to be known whether or not this will be the case for Jay and Wells in The Flash. My hope as a pessimistic realist, who occasionally has delusions of optimism, is that we will at least get to see these two men come to some sort of mutual understanding and respect, even if they aren’t necessarily all buddy-buddy after the fact.
What say you, Lovers of the Zoo? Do you agree that Harrison Wells and Jay Garrick are foils of Tony Stark and Steve Rogers? Let me know in the comments below!
Images From: Buddytv.com, Aceshowbiz.com, Media.theiapolis.com, Screen Rant.com, Comicvine.com