The Neglected Nemeses: Professor Zoom/Reverse Flash
After a much too long hiatus, I’m back to bring you another installment in the Neglected Nemeses series. For those that are new here or haven’t seen these articles before, let me explain what I’m doing. We’re in the Golden Age of comic book movies, so to speak, but we are just now getting to the point where we are seeing film makers tap into the lesser known villains. As awesome as The Joker, Magento and Lex Luthor are, I think fans are ready to see some of the not-so-well-known, and oft-times better, villains in these comic book villains. In Neglected Nemeses, I highlight some of those baddies and essentially make a case for them. And to bring the story full circle, I even give a suggestion for which actor should take on the role. You can take a look at al the past installments, which includes Jane Doe, Black Manta, Carnage, Solomon Grundy, Black Tom Cassidy, Wrecking Crew, Ares, Brainiac and Mister Sinister, by clicking RIGHT HERE!
Now, on to the latest installment. in which I take on only the second Flash victim in this series, Eobard Thawne, also known as Professor Zoom and Reverse Flash. For Barry Allen, Thawne serves as the ultimate of badness and his arch-nemesis. The two battled it out for the better part of a quarter century before Allen finally, and seemingly, put and end to Thawne. The character was re-introduced in 2009’s The Flash: Rebirth, where he was re-imagined as one of the major villains in the DC Comics universe. But I’ll get to all those juicy tid-bits in a flash (sorry). Let’s first take a look at who Eobard Thawne is and what drove him to become Barry Allen’s biggest and most threatening foe.
Eobard Thawne made his first appearance in 1963 in The Flash (vol. 1) #139. In the following issue, it was revealed that Thawne originated in the 25th century, where he was a huge fan of The Flash and wanted quite desperately to meet the past hero. He wanted this to happen so badly, he recreated the electricochemical bath that gave Allen his super powers. In doing so, he lost several years off his life. He also underwent surgery to make himself look more like The Flash. Using the Cosmic Treadmill (I think there is one of these in my gym), Thawne transports himself back in time. However, the time Thawne finds himself in is shortly after the death of his idol and upon discovering what he is to become- Barry’s arch-nemesis- Eobard essentially implodes, in the emotional and mental manner, and becomes so unstable that he convinces himself that he is Barry Allen. But Thawne’s more aggressive behavior prevails and to gain retribution on Central City for “forgetting him,” the imbalanced Thawne goes on a tirade and begins destroying the city. The Allen family gathers to defeat the villain and they sent him back to the future, having been beaten so badly by Wally West, along with the trauma of the time travel, his memory was wiped clean of the events.
From there, Thawne takes on the moniker The Professor and uses his powers to become a criminal. This all came about after he found a time capsule that contained the Silver Age Flash costume. Taking this gem for his own, he was able to enhance the suit’s speed energy giving him the powers of The Flash as long as he was wearing the suit. He also altered the suit by changing its colors: the main part of it being yellow, with red boots and lightning bolts,and the chest symbol’s white circle becoming black. He changes his name to Professor Zoom and carries on with his life of crime. However, The Flash, who had traveled forward in time to witness the time capsule being opened.The capsule not only contained the now altered suit, but an atomic clock which threatened to explode in a manner similar to an atomic bomb because of the way it was transported through time. Assuming that Professor Zoom knew where the clock was, The Flash pursued the villain and after a very destructive battle, Zoom was defeated after being pushed by The Flash so fast, it resulted in him being burned, despite the chemical coating that Zoom had applied to the suit that was supposed to make the suit more resistant to friction. After all was said and done, Zoom knew nothing of the clock, but Flash was still able to find it and destroy it, along with Thawne’s suit.
Seeking revenge once more, Thawne began traveling back in time once again, using his extensive knowledge of history to aid him. He once again became obsessed with “becoming” Barry Allen, not only with his heroics, but in his personal life, including becoming the husband of Iris West. After several denials from Iris, Zoom decided to take things into his own hands…literally. Zoom apparently kills Iris at a party by vibrating his hand into her head. This drove Allen into a deep funk that took him some time to recover from. Not long after he had pulled himself together and found love once more, Zoom reappeared, threatening to kill his new wife on their wedding day. Not wanting his life ruined once more, Allen inadvertently kills his long-time foe by snapping his neck. After a subsequent trial in which Wally West– who at the time was Kid Flash– testified saying that the problem could have been resolved with out the death of Thawne, Allen was found not guilty of murder. Shortly after, Allen traveled to the 30th century to retire and live out his life with his newly resurrected Iris.
More recently, Zoom was re-introduced into the world of DC Comics via the smash hit The Flash: Rebirth, where he appears in the Speed Force. It is learned that he would be resurrected in a near-future event, as his corpse is still buried in the present time. He is seemingly the purpose of Barry’s return and transformation into the Black Flash.
He apparently kills the Black Flash and attempts to transform Barry into its replacement. When he appears again, he murders the revived Johnny Quick. It is revealed that Thawne recreated the chemical bath that originally gave Barry his speed, allowing Thawne to lure Barry out of the Speed Force during Final Crisis and, by using that, to create a negative Speed Force, affecting Barry and temporarily turning him into a Black Flash.
Zoom then traps Barry and the newly revived Max Mercury in the Negative Speed Force and sets off to destroy Wally West’s two kids, Jai and Irey. This is stopped by Jay Garrick and Bart Allen, despite the distant family connection Thawne and Bart share. After defeating Garrick, Zoom sets his brutality towards Bart, but is aided by Wally, Barry and Max. Soon after, they are joined by Jesse Chambers (Jesse Quick) and Irey (Impulse). Thawne pulls Barry away from the fight only to reveal that he, Thawne, was the cause of everything bad that had ever happened to Barry, including the death of his mother. Zoom takes off and Barry and Wally quickly pursue him, as they reach Zoom, they become the lightening bolt that alters Barry, changing him to The Flash. After capturing him, they return him to present time where, with the help of The Justice League, Justice Society and The Outsiders, they sever his connection to the Speed Force using a device that was intended to use on Barry to disconnect him from the Speed Force.
From here, we move to the Flashpoint story line, in which Barry attempts to change the events in his life, saving his mother from being killed. After Allen wakes up in an alternate time line where Superman doesn’t exist, Thomas Wayne is a much more violent and vengeful Batman and Wonder Woman, along with her Amazon followers, is at war with Aquaman and his Atlaneans. Allen, after some work convincing Batman of what was happening, recreates the events that give him his powers back so that he can help find a solution to the chaos that has befallen the planet. Zoom appears to Allen, explaining to him that it was his fault that the world is it this state and that him saving his mother off-set the timeline. It seems as though he took in the entire Speed Force to stop Zoom from killing his mother.These events also placed Thawne into a living paradox, which meant that Barry was no longer needed for Thawne to exist. While Zoom was taunting Allen with this news, telling him he could kill him at his leisure, Batman, the Thomas Wayne version, stabs him in the back.
As you can see, Thawne has been the proverbial thorn in Barry Allen’s side for some time now, causing all sorts of pain and chaos in his life. Honestly, I always thought Zoom would be a silly villain to have in a feature film, especially when you have a character that won’t be easy to translate to film as your hero. Having a rogue with essentially the same powers could potentially become quite tedious. However, when you add in the background these two share, you have a much more emotional and gut wrenching story. As my cohort and massive Flash fan Jake Lester stated, Thawne may not be the first villain I’d introduce in a Flash film, but toss him into the second, or should we be lucky enough, third film, and you’d have yourself a good, proper comic book movie with a threatening villain and great story.
Now, who do you get to fill this role? With a character like this one, you need an actor who is not afraid of a challenge and one that can easily separate himself from his heroic counter part. Mr. Lester suggested C. Thomas Howell, who recently voiced Thawne in the incredible animated adaptation of The Flashpoint Paradox (if you haven’t watched this yet, do yourself a favor and do it. You won’t be disappointed. I promise). I don’t hate this idea, as he did a great job voicing the character. But I think I’m going to suggest someone else. We’ve already seen Patrick Wilson in a comic book movie, as he led the film Watchmen for Zack Snyder. He also served as the baddie in the so-so big screen reboot of The A-Team and it’s this performance that makes me think he’d be a great Thawne. He was not only bad, but he was smart-ass as well, which, to me, seems to be a needed trait for Zoom. Now, I wouldn’t have him pull a Ryan Reynolds and lay down two hours of over-bearing smart-assery, but a bit here and there could be quite effective. The there’s his performance in David Slade’s dark film Hard Candy, where he plays the hostage to a crazed teenager, played by Ellen Page. Want to talk about emotion, give this film a whirl; he’s got it down to a T. Not to mention that Wilson is a big enough name that people would recognize him, but he wouldn’t be a budget-busting talent.
What do you think, would you want to see Eobard Thawne on the big screen? Who would you want to see fill the role? You can actually catch the character on the small screen, as it was recently announced that Rick Cosnett will be filling the role of Eddie Thawne on Arrow spin-off, The Flash. Also, be sure to check out the past installments of The Neglected Nemeses by clicking HERE! As always, I’m open to suggestions for any baddie that you’d like to see highlighted.
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