Did ‘Supergirl’ and ‘the Flash’ Plan Those Black Hole Storylines Together?
Fans of The CW’s Arrowverse saw double last week. Two of the network’s flagship shows, The Flash and Supergirl, returned with their season premieres. While the titular superheroes operate in different cities — and, in fact, entirely separate Earths — their first adventures of the season shared more than a passing resemblance.
Both Kara Danvers (Melissa Benoist) and Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) came face to face with black holes during their season 5 and season 6 premieres, respectively. As The Flash showrunner Eric Wallace told TVLine, the similarity was completely coincidental.
‘The Flash’ introduces Chester P. Runk
In “Into the Void,” The Flash crosses paths with Chester P. Runk (Brandon McKnight), a scientist whose botched experiment accidentally opens a black hole and merges his own consciousness with the void itself. Before long, black holes begin appearing throughout Central City until The Flash is able to destabilize it and restore Chester.
For Wallace, the character’s debut wasn’t motivated by an attempted synergy with Supergirl but by his own fandom. “Chester P. Runk was one of my favorite characters from the late-’80s run of the Flash comics,” Wallace said. “I was a young, African-American comic book reader, always looking for my own face in the comic books, and here was a character who, even though he was presented as villainous at first, eventually becomes not only an ally but a friend of [Wally West’s] The Flash.”
In the comics, Chester — also known as Chunk — is an overweight scientist and self-made inventor who develops the ability to summon black holes at will. Although The Flash’s depiction takes liberties with his origin, Chester could become a recurring fixture on the show if The CW series takes a cue from its source material.
‘Supergirl’ brings its own black holes
Meanwhile, in “Event Horizon,” Supergirl encounters an escaped Phantom Zone prisoner named Midnight (Jennifer Cheon Garcia), who also creates black holes. Unlike The Flash’s Chester P. Runk, Midnight is presented as a legitimate threat to National City. Any similarity between The Flash and Supergirl last week can be attributed to hectic schedules, Wallace said.
“Even though we’re all in the same Arrowverse, we’re all so busy sometimes that we don’t get a chance to talk to each other as much as we would like to,” he said. “So imagine my surprise when it was brought to my attention after, mind you, both scripts had already been published, approved, and gone into pre-production!”
The fact that Chester and Midnight share the same powers could be taken as a symptom that both shows are running low on steam, but bearing in mind that they each deal with the realms of cosmic threats and speculative science, the combination of black holes and superheroics represents an easy win for both shows.
A happy accident?
One clear distinction in the dual black hole storylines is the design involved. Due to their separate production schedules, The Flash and Supergirl feature largely different aesthetics and applications for how black holes function. Considering these are sister shows, one could declare that Central City and National City should share a similar look and feel regarding black holes.
Yet, the impending “Crisis on Infinite Earths” event presents an opportunity to reconcile such differences. The five-episode arc unites The CW superhero roster as well as characters from shows like Smallville and even Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman film. The Arrowverse may be unable to avoid design discrepancies completely, but “Crisis” provides leeway for these to coexist.
Moreover, the synchronicity of black holes appearing in both Central City and National City could be incorporated as a sign of the threat waiting to strike the multiverse. After all, the heroes across every Earth might encounter a growing momentum of similar threats that then manifest in the crossover event. We’ll have to wait until December to see how The Flash, Supergirl and more fare when “Crisis on Infinite Earths” finally airs.