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Monday, August 29, 2016

Static Thoughts - Is Metamorpho, The Element Man, Coming to The Flash Season 3?

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Edited by Robert Beach

In case you didn’t know, this fall’s new season of The Flash will take place in an alternate timeline from the show’s normal status quo. That probably sounds daunting and complicated if you’re not already a fan of the series, but it is pretty novel and streamlined for a large-scale superhero show that’s become the fulcrum of an expanding superhero universe on TV. The basic idea is that this new present was created when the hero, The Flash, went back in time and saved his mother from getting killed by a super villain. 

That change altered history. Now Flash must deal with the consequences. It’s a neat concept that affords the creators free will to imagine an altered reality similar to the show’s status quo with some key tweaks to play around with. For instance, this new reality will feature the premiere of series regular Wally West as Kid Flash. I speculate that the change will bring another major superhero revelation: the premiere of Metamorpho. 

Premiering in 1965 as part of DC’s push to regain market dominance in the wake of Marvel’s early success, Metamorpho is a strange blend of weird science hero and pulp adventurer. His origin is fairly standard: adventurer Rex Mason was treasure hunting in Egypt when he became trapped in a bizarre tomb that contained a mysterious meteorite. The meteorite transformed him into Metamoprho, the element man, a being with the power to transform himself into any element found within the human body. 

Unable to return to his human form, Metamorpho defends the world with his transformative powers. This was all during that wonderful era when surrealism was very much in vogue for comics. For instance, among Metamorpho’s supporting characters, there’s Java, the bodyguard of Metamorpho’s boss/father-in-law Simon Stagg. Oh, right, Java is also a million-year-old caveman that Stagg thawed out and befriended through his offer employment. That unrestrained weirdness was just par for the course back in the day. 

Speaking of Simon Stagg, he’s key to my theory that Metamorpho is coming to The Flash’s new season because he’s already been on the show. Back in season 1 episode 2 when the show was still finding its feet, Stagg had an appearance. Portrayed by William Sadler, Stagg serves as the head of Metamorpho Chemicals in the CW-Verse, but he hasn’t appeared since that episode.  

That’s because, in the climax of that story, Stagg was stabbed and left in critical condition by the villainous Reverse Flash to keep Stagg from interfering in his own plans and schemes.  Stagg’s been MIA ever since. That’s all about to change thanks to the Flash’s time travel shenanigans. 

In the newly formed reality, the Reverse Flash was never around to stab Simon Stagg, which means he’s still alive and kicking, running Metamorpho Chemicals. One of the major changes to Metamorpho’s mythos is that Stagg has become a much more malevolent figure. 

He was always a thorn in Rex’s side, but he was more of a bemusing nuisance in the original comics. In most modern adaptations and retellings, Stagg is directly responsible for Metamorpho’s transformation. That was the case in the animated Justice League episode about Metamorpho as well as the Beware the Batman storyline involved the character, and, I suspect, it would translate over to The Flash as well. 

Aside from Stagg being alive and available to transform Rex Mason into the Element Man, we know that transformations play a key role in the thematic subtext of the new season. The entire ‘Flashpoint’ arc of Barry changing time is grounded in the idea of transforming the universe to suit your desires and how that act changes you personally. What’s more, that subtext is bleeding right over into the text with the upcoming villain Dr. Alchemy, a bad guy whose entire power set is the ability to transmute elements. 

Alchemy promises to be a major part of the upcoming season as well as he’s played by Tobin Bell, famous for his role as Jigsaw in the Saw franchise. That means the new season will feature a big star as a villain with the power of transmutation. The return of Simon Stagg and Metamorpho Chemicals means CW will double down on elements that could be building up to Metamorpho finally coming to life on CW. 

The final clue to his involvement comes from the comics the new season is based on. The idea of the new season, along with the subtitle, comes from the Flashpoint maxi-series, which also featured an altered present in the wake of the Flash saving his mother in the past. Now there was a lot more going on in the Flashpoint comics than in this new season, but one key element was the role of the Element Woman, a girl version of Metamorpho that teamed up with Flash and a handful of other heroes trying to put right what once went wrong. 

Element Woman, who we could also see, has been a Metamorpho supporting character since the ‘60s, sporadically appearing in the comics without ever gaining as much popularity as her male counterpart.  However, CW has worked wonders turning J-list heroes into big names like Vibe or Rip Hunter. So if they wanted to sub in the Element Woman, that could easily fit the bill. 

Regardless of whether it’s Metamorpho or Element Woman who gets adapted, I do hope that CW is going to pull the trigger on this particular character.  Metamorpho’s one of the great creations of comics, and his 1960s comic stands as one of the most imaginative and visual dynamic books ever published.  

Even more than that, though, the simple idea for Metamorpho is a great sell as he’s Indiana Jones with the power to turn his fists into hammers if he wants.  Given how many heroes CW already added to their roster among Legends of Tomorrow, Supergirl, and Arrow, I think they could find room for the Element Man in that roster. 

The Flash season 3 premieres October 4, 2016

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