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Every version of The Flash, ranked

The Flash is arguably one of the most popular superheroes today. From cartoons to live-action, the Flash has appeared in countless media, so a lot of people have portrayed the human lightning bolt over the years. Sometimes an actor can be two Flashes at the same time.

Now that the Scarlet Speedster’s film The Flash is about to shake up the Multiverse in theaters, now is a good time to run down the ranked list of the best Flashes in TV and film.

7. Kyle Gallner (Smallville)

Kyle Gallner as Bart Allen in "Smallville."
Warner Bros.

At first, Bart Allen is a far cry from the heroic Speedster that fans know from the comics. Clark first meets Bart in season 4 of Smallville when he is a petty thief using his super speed to rob people around the globe. Ironically, his criminal actions made this character more like the kleptomaniac Quicksilver from Fox’s X-Men films.

But Clark correctly saw Bart as a lonely boy in need of guidance, and so he helped him see the dangerous consequences his irresponsible actions can have. Thus, Bart decides to use his powers for good and helps form the Justice League under the codename “Impulse.”

6. George Eads/James Arnold Taylor (Young Justice)

Barry Allen as the Flash in "Young Justice."
Warner Bros.

Unlike most non-comic iterations of the Flash, this Barry Allen is established as the second person to take up the mantle in his universe, with the first being Jay Garrick. Though he has more of a supporting role in this series, Young Justice’s Flash acts as a mentor to his nephew, Wally West, when he becomes a Speedster like him, and their relationship is given enough focus throughout the show.

However, Barry’s easygoing attitude repeatedly clashes with Wally’s impatient and reckless character, but his compassion helped him mold his nephew into a true hero.

5. Justin Chambers/Christopher Gorham (DC Animated Movie Universe)

The Flash running in "Justice League Dark: Apokolips War."
Warner Bros.

This Flash began this cinematic universe by altering history in Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox. Having accidentally created a world on the brink of nuclear annihilation, Barry goes back in time to prevent himself from stopping his mother’s murder. Though this changes the future, it still doesn’t change the Earth’s fate, as Darkseid later conquers Earth and brings it close to destruction.

But after Darkseid forces Barrys to run for years on end to power Apokolips, the latter runs back in time to reset the timeline again to create a better future, ending the saga with how it started. This version of the Flash may not have gotten much of a spotlight through this line of animated films, but he has arguably suffered and sacrificed the most to protect the universe and those he loves.

4. John Wesley Shipp (1990’s The Flash/The CW’s Arrowverse)

John Wesley Shipp as Barry Allen/The Flash in "Crisis on Infinite Earths."
CW

Though CBS’s series about the Flash didn’t last long, John Wesley Shipp’s performance as Barry Allen made quite a lasting impression. With his muscular physique and magnetic gravitas, the acclaimed actor captured lightning in a bottle as he portrayed the Flash like a traditional American hero, one audiences couldn’t help but love.

In fact, he was so good, the CW had Shipp play Henry Allen and Jay Garrick in the Arrowverse before letting him reprise his role as Allen in the Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover event on The CW, which gave him the chance to save the entire Multiverse in a well-deserved sendoff.

3. Michael Rosenbaum (DC Animated Universe)

Wally West as the Flash in the animated show, "Justice League."
Image used with permission by copyright holder

To think that one of the best versions of the Flash would come from the guy who played Lex Luthor. In the classic Justice League cartoon, Smallville actor Michael Rosenbaum voices Wally West’s Flash, who takes the place of Barry Allen in this continuity. However, his Flash integrates elements of Barry and Wally’s characters to create something completely different.

This Speedster is one of the more immature and impulsive members of the Justice League, and he isn’t that great with snappy comebacks or flirting with women. However, his positive attitude and kindness toward others make him a beloved and integral member of the League.

2. Ezra Miller (DC Extended Universe)

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Despite all the terrible things Ezra Miller has done in his personal life, this actor still plays a terrific Flash. He may not have had a great start in the theatrical cut of Justice League, but Zack Snyder’s version proved he was more than a source of comic relief. His tragic origins, pursuit of a stable career, and awkward but energetic personality made him a relatable and compelling character on multiple levels.

And his running back in time to save the Multiverse from Darkseid makes for a landmark moment in superhero cinema. Andy Muschietti’s new film takes the hero to a whole new level by fleshing out his backstory, giving him a costume straight out of the comics, and having Miller play two Barry Allens at once.

1. Grant Gustin (The CW’s Arrowverse)

Grant Gustin as the Flash in "Crisis on Infinite Earths."
CW

To many, Grant Gustin is the only one fit enough to replace Ezra Miller, which is a testament to how great his performance as the Flash is in the Arrowverse. Having played the character since 2013, Gustin’s interpretation of the Scarlet Speedster became one of the most iconic superheroes in recent memory thanks to his ten seasons on the CW’s The Flash and multiple interconnected shows.

In that time, audiences saw Barry grow as he falls in love with Iris West, starts a family, and forges his own team of superheroes, all while battling many kinds of villains in Central City and beyond. As a result, this Barry Allen currently stands as the most fully formed version of the character ever seen outside of the comics.

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Anthony Orlando
Anthony Orlando is a writer/director from Oradell, NJ. He spent four years at Lafayette College, graduating CUM LAUDE with a…
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