Captain America: Civil War (2016) - Falcon (Anthony Mackie), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Captain America (Chris Evens), Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) and Winter Soldier (Sebastian Shaw)
Yesterday, the first official trailer for Captain America: Civil War was released and it broke the Internet. They premiered the trailer during an interview with Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans on "Jimmy Kimmel Live". It's already got over 6 million views and 100 thousand likes.

For those who don't know, here's the short synopsis: When the government sets up a governing body to oversee the Avengers, the team splinters into two camps - one led by Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) and his desire for the Avengers to remain free to defend humanity without government interference, and the other following Tony Stark’s surprising decision to support government oversight and accountability.

It was first seen at Disney’s D23 Expo back in August and fans have been dying to see it ever since. They did not disappoint.

We got to see some amazing things in the short, but one of the most amazing things is three - count 'em - three Black superheroes in one movie! Black Panther, Falcon and War Machine

First Official Look at Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman)

Falcon (Anthony Mackie) Has An Even Cooler Costume Than Last Time

The Team is Assembled

War Machine (Don Cheadle) Gets Beat Up

Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) Gets Beat Up

Here's the official poster in HD.

Are you ready?

Here's the official story synopsis:
Marvel’s "Captain America: Civil War" finds Steve Rogers leading the newly formed team of Avengers in their continued efforts to safeguard humanity. But after another incident involving the Avengers results in collateral damage, political pressure mounts to install a system of accountability, headed by a governing body to oversee and direct the team. The new status quo fractures the Avengers, resulting in two camps - one led by Steve Rogers and his desire for the Avengers to remain free to defend humanity without government interference, and the other following Tony Stark's surprising decision to support government oversight and accountability. Get ready to pick a side and join the nonstop action playing out on two fronts when Marvel’s "Captain America: Civil War" opens in U.S. theaters on May 6, 2016.

What do you think of the trailer and poster? Who's side are you on?

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Source: Amazon
I promise, this blog isn't going to turn into just an ad for different TV shows. But I have to say...tell me this doesn't get your attention.

In case you're wondering, The Man in the High Castle is a TV series set in an alternate reality where the Axis powers won World War II. The United States has been divided up between Germany and Japan with a neutral zone in between.

Unfortunately, the ads have caused a bit of a controversy. Amazon put banners on New York subway cars making the seats look like the Nazi-run American flag (depicting the American flag with an iron cross) on one side and the Japan-run American flag (depicting the rising sun) on the other, as it's featured on the show.
Source: Twitter
Commuters complained, and the ads came down. But Amazon has no regrets. I guess there's no such thing as bad publicity.

Update: Originally this article said the flags had swastikas. The flags have the Iron Cross, instead.

What do you think of the ads? Would they make you want to watch the show?

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After months of teasing, Netflix has finally released its new series, Marvel's Jessica Jones. It's about a superhero (Krysten Ritter) who retires to become a private investigator after a devastating loss to a mind-controlling supervillain. She struggles with the psychological aftermath of what she's done as the supervillain threatens to return. And meets Luke Cage. I'll be posting reviews soon as I watch the show, but here's the trailer. As you can see, it's very different from other superhero properties you've seen before.

What do you think? Are you watching?

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10 Things to Know About Jessica Jones
10 Facts About Krysten Ritter

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I saw Pixels for the first time last night. Like most of the critics, I didn't like it. In fact, I hated it. It took me a while to figure out why, though. When I realized it, it hit me with a ton of bricks.

Pixels is nerdsploitation.

I don't know if I invented that term, because I'm too lazy to Google it, but I'm going to pretend I did. Nerdsploitation is my term for movies and TV shows that exploit nerds. Blaxploitation movies of the seventies pretended to be about showing love for black culture when they really just used the worst stereotypes in order to make money. Nerdsploitation pretends to be about showing love for nerd culture while using the worst stereotypes of nerds to exploit them.

In case you're not familiar with it, Pixels is a science fiction comedy about classic videogames. The idea is that aliens found a videotape of people playing videogames in the eighties, thought they were real, and sends living versions of classic games to destroy Earth. The only ones who can stop them are a group of classic videogame experts. Armed with exotic weapons, the gamers shoot giant centipedes, race cars against Pac-Man, and jump over barrels in a gigantic version of Donkey Kong. It's an Adam Sandler movie, which means it has a lot of crude humor, dumb jokes, sexism, and cameos of all Sandler's friends who can't get a job anywhere else. But I'll put all that aside.

What bothered me most about the movie is that it should have been a celebration of eighties nostalgia. Anyone who walked into an arcade and dropped a quarter into a slot would see the appeal of the concept, but it was wasted. Pixels could have been all about how gaming culture has changed. People who played games used to be made fun of, but now videogame culture is everywhere. But mainly, it should have been a classic underdog story. The ones who seemed to be wasting time then are here now to put those skills to good use and save the world.

But that's not what we got.

Sandler's character Sam Brenner is the hero, but he's portrayed as a pathetic moron whose life fell apart because he couldn't play videogames. He works for a company called Nerd Brigade, which I assumed was a riff on Geek Squad. And that makes sense. I mean, he's good at technology, right? Geek Squad does troubleshooting on computers and electronic equipment. It's a classic nerd job.

But no, Brenner just installs television sets, which doesn't take that much technical skills to do. Really, he has no real skills, and no ambition. He's what someone in the eighties who looked down on videogames would imagine the players growing up to be. And while people talked about how Brenner has ideas and inventions, we don't see any evidence of that. It would have been good to have Sandler's character open up, maybe even invent some weapons to fight the aliens. But no, someone else creates all the weapons. Brenner just grabs and uses them.

By the end of the movie, Brenner and his team defeats the aliens and saves the day, but he still seems like a loser. Just a loser who can handle a light cannon. And the only reason he gets the job is his best friend happens to be the president of the United States (seriously).

The other gamer characters were even worse, One (Josh Gad) was a glasses-wearing conspiracy nut who literally lived in his mother's basement, and treated videogames like his friends. The other (Peter Dinklage) was a sleazeball ex-convict who thought he was loved while he was really hated. All the gamer characters were portrayed as losers then and losers now. There was no love for them. Just contempt.

Even worse, the movie misrepresented videogame skills. All the gamers kept talking about patterns as if being good at videogames is just about memorizing patterns. It's not. There's also eye-hand coordination and multitasking. But that didn't happen. At one point, Brenner complains that he can't play modern videogames because there are no patterns. That made no sense to me. I don't know anyone who loved videogames in the eighties who doesn't love videogames today. All the same skills apply. That made the fondness for videogames that should have been the entire premise of the movie seem cheap and hollow, restricted to a love of Pac-Man and Asteroids, and shunning the next thirty years of technology.

The bottom line is that the movie felt like it was made by someone who didn't understand nerd culture. The collective message was more about saying, "Hey, here's Pac-Man. Hey, here's Q-Bert" without knowing why seeing them was so much fun. It's like they said, "Let's make Ghostbusters with videogames" and moved on without thinking deeper than that.

The wife and kids loved Pixels, and it made a surprising amount of money, so I know I might be in the minority. But I was an arcade gamer in the eighties, so I should have loved Pixels. Instead, the whole movie made me feel ugly inside, like I had gone to a party claiming to be for nerds, but where everyone wore fake glasses and pocket protectors and fake buckteeth while saying, "See? I'm a nerd!" It felt like Adam Sandler and Kevin James just pointed at the camera and laughed at me for two hours.

And all the good stuff was in the trailer.

What did you think of Pixels?

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About the Author - Nigel G. Mitchell earned a Bachelor's in English from Arizona State University in 1999. In addition to writing for The Geek Twins, his short stories have been published in Lost Worlds, 365 Tomorrows, and Black Hole Magazine. His latest novel is Seizure.

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Source: YouTube
We've all seen models of the solar system or thought we have. Those illustrations in textbooks and online show a nice collection of planets, big enough to see detail on, all looking like they're close enough to touch. But we've all been told that the models aren't to scale. In fact, you couldn't create a scale model of the solar system on a normal piece of paper, because the planets would be microscopic. Well, get ready to have your mind blown, because you're about to see the solar system in a whole new light.

Wylie Overstreet and Alex Gorosh headed for a dry riverbed in Nevada's Black Rock desert to create a truly accurate scale model of the solar system on Earth. And it's massive. It stretches across seven miles. The Earth is the size of a marble. Jupiter is represented by a ball the size of a watermelon. Watch this truly unique experiment unfold over 36 hours:

If you live in one of the select few areas where scale models of the solar system exist, you can experience it for yourself. For the rest of us, this is as close as we can get.

[Via NPR]

What do you think of the scale model?

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After years of misleading Tumblr and Facebook hoaxes, (there's actually a Tumbler that has been literally proclaiming every day as the day McFly went back in time since 2013) the day is finally upon us. In the classic movie Back to the Future II, Marty McFly traveled to the then-distant future of October 21, 2015. I'm sure no one expected the movie to still be around, and it's hard to believe, but here it is. We've officially reached the future.

In honor of the date, if you happen to have Amazon Prime, you can stream all three movies for free this month. If not, theaters around the country are going to be screening the original movie in theaters (check your local listings).

Toyota brought together Christopher Lloyd and Michael J. Fox to discuss the momentous date:

Also, check out this video of teenagers reacting to the realization that they're living in the future:

Also, be sure to check out some of our most popular posts on the movies, including:
50 Greatest Back To The Future II Quotes of All Time
Can We Dress Like Marty McFly in Back to the Future II Yet?
25 Cool Back to the Future Car Facts You Probably Didn't Know
Bif Answers Your Back to the Future Questions in Song
11 Inventions From Back to the Future We Wish We Had
10 Interesting Facts About Marty McFly's Sneakers

But no, we're not going over everything BTTFII got wrong about 2015. Because for once, we're the ones who will say it: it's just a movie!

How will you celebrate? What are your memories of Back to the Future II?

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Source: Tumblr, Credit: Marvel
Okay, we've been behind Marvel's movement to add diversity to its iconic superheroes for a long time. Spiderman as a black/Latino teenager? Awesome. Captain America as an African-American? Bring it on. Thor as a woman? Okay, we'll buy that. Hulk as a Korean-American? Why not? But this shocked even us: Wolverine is now a woman.

In 2014, Marvel had a story arc called "Death of Wolverine" where Wolverine (also known as Logan) died. A virus burned out his healing factor, making him vulnerable. During a long battle with various enemies, he ended up being covered in adamantium and dying of suffocation (obviously, that's the short version). While no one familiar with comics seriously believed Wolverine would die permanently, few expected his character to be recreated so radically. Marvel announced that the mantle of Wolverine will be adopted by Laura Kinney, better known as X-23.

For those unfamiliar with her, X-23 is Logan's female clone with all of his abilities, including regeneration, heightened senses, and adamantium claws. She was created by a secret organization called the Facility to be a deadly assassin. Eventually, she was adopted by Logan as his surrogate daughter, and even joined X-Force. Now she'll be officially taking on the name and costume of Wolverine.

Wolverine has always been an icon of machismo, which makes this change more surprising and controversial. But we think that's exactly why it works. If Wolverine can be a woman, it opens the door to more non-stereotypical female heroes.

UPDATE: You can read the first few pages of All New Wolverine at comicbookresources.com.

What do you think of the change?

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‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ cast members Oscar Isaac, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, director JJ Abrams and producer Kathleen Kennedy at "Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim, California, April 17, 2015. Source: Reuters
This post is for all the so-called "Star Wars fans" who hate having a Black man as the lead. Please boycott Star Wars. Never see another Star Wars movie. Never buy another Star Wars bathrobe. Never go to another Star Wars convention. On behalf of the millions of real Star Wars fans, we don't want you anyway. Please leave.

Today we're getting the next Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer. It's amazing and exciting news. But, the Internet is what it is.

There's a disturbance in the force. A new hashtag started trending called #BoycotStarWarsVII. Why? Is it because of the Syria refugee crisis that displaced 7.6 million people? Is it because the 7.8 earthquake in Nepal that left 200,000 in suffering? No. It's because of a much greater threat. It's possible that racist nerds may have to watch a Black man star, and even kiss a White girl, in a movie. They worry it'll promote "White Genocide" and "Race Mixing" which are currently listed as #2,567,989 and #78,000,778 on the list of the humanitarian crises affecting the world.

What are they mad about? Star Wars Episode VII is the long-awaited sequel to Star Wars: Return of the Jedi from 1983. It stars John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Academy Award winner Lupita Nyong’o, Gwendoline Christie, Crystal Clarke, Pip Andersen, Domhnall Gleeson, and Max von Sydow.

One of the hundreds of human, and non-human, stars of the movie is Finn who's played by John Boyega and wears a stormtrooper uniform. He happens to be Black. It's also rumored (rumored mind you) that he's the main character in the film and could end up in a relationship with Daisy Ridley. Ridley is White. That's it. That's what's causing the commotion. I've already listed six good reasons why a Black Guy is wearing stormtrooper armor, but it's not enough for some people.

Boyega has recognized that some people hate his character and has responded with style and grace. In an interview with V magazine, Boyega said that these fans are just going to have to "get used to it." "I’m in the movie, what are you going to do about it? You either enjoy it or you don’t. I’m not saying get used to the future, but what is already happening," Boyega said. "People of color and women are increasingly being shown on-screen. For things to be whitewashed just doesn’t make sense.” While many assume his casting is some sort of attack on the White majority, Boyega says that's garbage. "I had a multicultural society to take advantage of," Boyega said in the interview, "I worked hard and ended up where I am today."

But, none of that stops racist trolls hiding behind keyboards from declaring they're fighting back at Hollywood by boycotting the film. That's cool with me.

The reality is no matter how many chat rooms you have and no matter how many hashtags you start, you're in the minority. There aren't enough of you guys to fill a theater. Even if there are millions of you guys, we don't want you anyway. Star Wars is about unity and equality. It unites people around the world and has crossed every ethnic and social boundary in the human race. It starred Billy Dee Williams as one of the greatest Black characters in science fiction history. It's wonderful and 99.999% of fans love equality. It's sad to think there's a vocal minority who want to promote hate-speech. So good riddance. I wish I could say there was a big moral reason I want you to boycott, but it's purely selfish.

The advance tickets for the movie go on sale today and I'm sure it'll be sold out in minutes. The movie opens two months from now, but the crash has already started. First tickets for "Star Wars 7" were released in the U.K. on Monday. In the U.S., we have to wait until Monday evening to reserve our tickets. But it's already crashing ticket sale sites. It crashed ticket sites of ODEON, Cineworld, Vue and PictureHouse. That's just for one country. Can you imagine what's going to happen when the tickets go on sale during ESPN's Monday Night Football game? It'll be madness!

So, the fewer people buying tickets, the better my chances of getting a family four-pack for opening day. The fewer people in line, the better my chances of getting those middle row seats that really make the 3-D pop out of the screen. The fewer people buying toys, the better my chances of getting that special edition Finn action figure with the light-up saber.

Please boycott Star Wars. While you're off gnashing your teeth at the horror of ethnic diversity, we'll be enjoying one of the greatest cultural events of the decade. I'll get extra butter on my popcorn for you. While you're at it, please boycott Star Trek, Doctor Who, and Marvel superhero films. It took me forever to get Avengers tickets.

Official Star Wars Force Awakens Summary
Star Wars: Episode VII will be directed by J.J. Abrams (Super 8, Mission: Impossible III, Star Trek) and is being scripted by Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan (Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi). Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy, J.J. Abrams, and Bryan Burk are producing, with Tommy Harper (Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol, Jack Ryan, Star Trek Into Darkness) and Jason McGatlin (Tintin, War of the Worlds) serving as executive producers. John Williams is returning to score Star Wars: Episode VII.Directed by J.J. Abrams
Cinematography by Daniel Mindel
Production Design by Rick Carter and Darren Gilford
Starring: John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, Max von Sydow, Lupita Nyong'o, and Gwendoline Christie, with Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew and Kenny Baker
Release Dates: December 18, 2015 (USA)
Official Site: starwars.com
© Copyright 2015 Lucasfilm, Bad Robot. All rights reserved

Do you want racist fans to boycott Star Wars Episode 7

About the Author: Maurice Mitchell
I'm an avid science fiction fan, former professional graphic designer, and certified blerd. After the death of my Star Wars action figures, I use my powers for good and not for evil.
Visit my concept art blog: http://filmsketchr.blogspot.com

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Supergirl Collectible
Supergirl Comes to TV on CBS and Comes to Your Shelf Thanks to DC Collectibles (via The Mary Sue)
We'd love to hear what you think of the Internet's strangest and geekiest moments in this week's "Geek Bits."

By The Way

The Superman site is up and running on About.com! Here are some popular articles you may have missed from my site


1. Confirmed: New ‘Force Awakens’ Trailer On Monday, Official Poster On Sunday

2. Hulk Confirmed to Appear in THOR: RAGNAROK

3. The Languages of Star Wars

4. How Much is a Superhero’s CV Worth?

5. The Evolution of the Batmobile
Check out BookMyGarage's amazing infographic detailing the history of the Batmobile from its earliest incarnation to the very latest version.
The Evolution of the Batmobile by Book my Garage The Evolution of the Batmobile by BookMyGarage at bookmygarage.com/

5. Friday Funnies


7. Guest Post: The Strain: Trilogy vs. Television Show

8. Simon Peggs Geekspeak

NYCC DAREDEVIL Season Two Trailer Online

10. Sequel Bits: ‘Spectre’, ‘Kong: Skull Island’, ‘Resident Evil: The Final Chapter, ‘Fifty Shades Freed’

11. Legends of History, Meet Your Anime Counterparts

What do you think of this week's links?

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The Flash (1990) - Barry Allen\The Flash (John Wesley Shipp). Credit: CBS Television
Do you love the new CW The Flash series starring Grant Gustin? Then you'll be surprised to know that over 25 years ago a Flash TV show aired that barely lasted one season. While the show didn't always live up to its hype, the story of what happened and why it failed is a fascinating story in television history. Up till now it's been covered in various interviews, but the full story has never been told. Here's everything you never knew about the 90s Flash TV show.

The Beginning of The Flash

It's 1990 and live-action superhero shows aren't popular. Shows like Batman and Incredible Hulk peaked in the 1960s and 1970s. But, by the 1980s, parody shows like The Greatest American Hero and Misfits of Science had taken their place. In 1989, something changed. Tim Burton directed Batman which re-imagined the superhero as a dark and tragic figure. It changed everything. The campy 60s show was replaced with the dark vision from the comics and the time seemed right to do a serious live-action superhero show. Warner Bros already had some success with the syndicated live-action Superboy show on CBS. So, they decided to try a prime-time comic book show. The Flash began as a superhero team show pitched by executive producers Danny Bilson and Paul De Meo called Unlimited Powers. The basic idea was that all the superheroes surrender their power. The "Limited Powers Act" between the U.S. and Russia is created to promote world peace. Flash refused to surrender and put into suspended animation. The series picks up twenty years later when he's forty. He gets unfrozen and discovers there was a conspiracy by the supervillains to get the superheroes to surrender their powers. By the time Flash gets unfrozen all the villains are running the world in suits. Flash reunites some superheroes to fight back using an old battleship as an underground base.

Flash Almost Killed Green Arrow

It would have been dark. The best example is that the Flash kills Green Arrow in the pilot, and his daughter joins the team as the new Green Arrow. She would have been joined by a man made of rock named Blok and a powerful psychic named Dr. Occult.

CBS loved the concept of a superhero show but balked at the price. The cost of costumes and effects were just too much to do four superheroes. "It would have been insane to do four," Paul DeMeo said, "What the studio liked out of our script was this one character—the Flash. So we said, 'Great. We'll do that.'.

The Producers Hated Barry Allen

The second man to become the Flash, Barry Allen, was killed in the comics and replaced by his sidekick Wally West. Bilson and De Meo were not fans of Wally though. "Wally West has always been a little too obnoxious for our tastes," laughed Bilson, "and so we decided to take the longest-running and most appealing Flash, Barry Allen, and use him." They combined elements of the original Flash and the current comic book one. They took Barry Allen's origin of a police scientist struck by lightning because a police officer could lend itself more to a crime drama setting. The character was combined with the youth of Wally West and the need to rest and eat a ton of food to maintain his metabolism. West's girlfriend Tina McGee replaced Iris West as Barry's love interest.

Batman Inspired Flash

Stylistically, they were influenced by the look of Tim Burton's Batman by using art-deco buildings and old cars. They fused the look of the 1980s with the 1950s and used modern-day technology like computers.

The Show Finds It's Flash

Promotional still of Amanda Pays and John Shipp for The Flash (1990)
Danny Bilson and Paul De Meo set out to cast The Flash. They looked long and hard for an actor that could play a superhero, but with the skills to give it the realistic tone they were looking for. Many actors turned them down because they thought it would be silly. 60 actors were considered for the role, but it came down to John Wesley Shipp and Richard Burgi. In the end, the Emmy award-winning actor John Wesley Shipp was cast as Barry Allen AKA The Flash. Richard Burgi would go on to guest star in the Flash episode "The Deadly Nightshade". He also starred in the short-lived superhero series The Sentinel.

Shipp Didn't Know Anything About Flash

Shipp had to do his homework. "I didn’t really know anything about The Flash when I was told about it," he explained. "I said the same thing that people have said to me: 'You mean Flash Gordon?" and they said, 'No.'"

"My first impression was ‘No, I don’t want to do a television treatment of a super-hero,’ because my experience with that had been the old Spider-Man series when somebody held a rope off-camera, and I knew I didn’t want to run around in a pair of red tights. But I read the script and thought that this, even free of its comic book roots, was a character that I would enjoy playing."

Amanda Pays Was Hired Because of "Max Headroom"

Amanda Pays was hired to play Christina "Tina" McGee partially for her work on the futuristic cyberpunk show Max Headroom. They felt it was a similar audience. "She was great," Shipp said, "They knew they wanted her before they knew they wanted me. Tina McGee, they saw as being Amanda Pays right away."

Alex D├ęsert played Allen’s co-worker Julio Mendez. "He was very funny, very dry, nothing ruffled him," Shipp remembered. "He was a real stabilizing influence on the set. I don’t fault myself for this, but I tend [to] take things a little seriously, as you can tell. He’d get me to lighten up from time to time. He’d remind that it wasn’t brain surgery, it was the crime lab."

The Flash Costume Design

Promotional still of John Shipp for The Flash (1990)
The mark of any good superhero movie or TV show is the costume. So the production worked hard to make a costume that was faithful, yet realistic and sophisticated. The studio didn't want a superhero costume. They wanted Barry Allen to wear a gray sweatsuit with lights in his shoes. This was the days before revisionist costumes, so the producers pushed for a comic book style costume.
Costume Concept Illustration by Dave Stevens for The Flash (1990) Credit: CBS Television
The look of the Flash costume was based on concept designs by artist Dave Stevens who was famous for the critically acclaimed comic The Rocketeer. Bison and De Meo had met him while adapting his comic into the movie.

Warner Bro successful Batman movie became the template for the show and they decided that the Flash wouldn't wear spandex. "The suit was critical," Bilson said. "You can't, after 'Batman,' have a guy running around in tights." Danny Bilson and Paul De Meo came up with the idea that the suit was a deep sea submersible suit made by the Soviets, which is why it's burgundy red. They also explained that it was a turnout for firemen and friction-proof.

Not only did they want to avoid spandex because they thought he would look silly, but there were practical concerns. Visual effects artist Robert Short, who'd worked on films like Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979) and E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982), was hired to make a costume. He agreed that Spandex just doesn't look right and never accentuates the actor's muscles properly. They decided to use a combination of latex and special "flocking" techniques to create the unique look of the costume.

Using a full body cast of actor John Wesley Shipp they made foam latex pieces out of all the muscles, about two to four inches thick. Then, they painstakingly glued each piece onto a spandex suit and covered it with a red material sprayed with a sealant. While Shipp was in amazing shape, the suit gave him the exaggerated body of a comic book superhero. They made a total of eight suits: two suits made for Shipp, two suits for the show's stuntmen, two for photo doubles, and two for close-ups. The suits cost $100,000 each. The costumes alone cost almost a million dollars.

The Suit Made the Actor Sweat Buckets

Unfortunately, while the suit looked great, it was incredibly hot. Shipp later said, "Nobody anticipated the amount to which I would sweat through this suit. I’d be in it for 15 minutes and you could walk up to me and squeeze my arm and it was like a sponge. I’d take the gloves off and they'd be full of water." They eventually gave him a cooling vest like race car drivers wear. Shipp laughed, "It had tubing through it and they would hook me up to an ice chest between takes and circulate ice water through the tubes simply to jolt me awake."

Shipp Almost Saw a Shrink Because of the Costume

The other problem with the costume is it was claustrophobic. Because it was hard to take the suit on and off he would have to keep it on for long periods of time. Although they tried to keep the scenes short, it was tough. Shipp looked so stressed out that the producers wanted to get him a psychiatrist. He said that it was hard to work in, but didn't need a shrink. "It was my choice," Shipp said, "I could have avoided all the discomfort of the suit by simply choosing not to do the series. I chose to do the series; part of the series involved the suit. They were simply the things that had to be worked out. It would have worked out more if we had gone to the second season. But that was the challenge as it would be for any actor who works in anything that requires a suit of that nature."

The Flash Pilot

Still of Amanda Pays and John Shipp on The Flash (1990) Credit: CBS Television
The show was going to very different of the campy Batman TV show. "Danny said if we had our way we’d have outraged PTAs from across the country calling and complaining about our show every week." star John Wesley Shipp recalled.

The 90-minute series pilot was shot over six weeks in May and June 1990 at a cost of $6 million. There were 125 special effects in the episode, and the filming was brutal. To achieve the complicated speed effects, they would film Shipp doing something repeatedly and speed up the film. He explained it saying, "If it was eating, if it was the card trick at the casino, you just had to do these things for a long time, and eat and eat and eat and eat. That was really the only boring part about it, was having to do this monotonous action and then they'd speed it up and it would take ten seconds of screen time." Some scenes were filmed with him and his stunt doubles doing the actions in different places. Scenes like him cleaning his apartment or fighting. Because the scenes would only take a fraction of the screen time it made a labor-intensive show.

For the music, the producers again looked to Batman for inspiration. They wanted everything to be on a "grand scale" including the music. So they hired composer Danny Elfman, who made the iconic music for Tim Burton's film to create the theme song and his long-time conductor Shirley Walker scored the show. She used a full orchestra and wrote her scores by hand. Walker always orchestrated and conducted her own scores by herself.

After all the work and preparation, it was time to air the pilot and see if the world would accept a new and different superhero show.

Cosby Crushes The Flash

Still of Bill Cosby on The Cosby Show (1990)
The TV movie was a hit and CBS picked it up for a series. Head writer Gail Hickman, and John Francis Moore wrote most of the episodes. The Flash was scheduled for Thursday nights to challenge the rating powerhouse The Cosby Show for younger viewers. It looked like a perfect time slot, but there was a big surprise. The day after The Flash schedule was announced FOX announced they were moving The Simpsons from Sunday to Thursday. "Nobody knew they were going to do that," Bilson said. "It was a total ambush," De Meo recalled, "They weren't ambushing us; they were doing the same thing we are--ambushing 'Cosby,' "

The Simpsons was a hit with the same audience that The Flash was going for. They had the same goal of taking younger viewers away from Bill Cosby. But the production was optimistic. "First off, I think The Simpsons are going to knock off Cosby," Bilson remarked. "But after The Simpsons, if you've got the choice of watching that Fox show about three fat women living together [Babes], or the second half of Father Dowling Mysteries, A Different World or the biggest, most exciting action show of the past 20 years, which one are you going to watch?" The stage was set for a three-way battle for ratings between two successful shows and a new superhero show in its first season. "There was despair in the office," Danny Bilson later admitted. "It's an obvious problem. It's the same audience, no question about it. The Simpsons is one of my favorite shows."

Still, they had the support of the network who did a media blitz for the new show. It was the first superhero show in decades and there was hope that would be enough to make it last. Warner Bros flew banners over beaches on both coasts. They unveiled the pilot with a big bash at the Burbank lot. CBS launched ad campaigns on radio and cable TV and bought commercials during wrestling matches and old episodes of the Adam West Batman show. CBS took out ads in comic books and "Flash" promo posters were being displayed in malls and over 2,000 K-marts across the country. Four-minute promos of the series were aired at all Six Flags amusement parks.

The show debuted September 20, 1990, and did well. But neither Flash or Simpsons could beat Cosby in the ratings. By the second episode, to try and win ratings, CBS moved The Flash from 8PM-9PM Thursday to 8:30-9:30 PM. This was a bizarre time for a 60-minute show, but airing against Cosby and Simpsons was killing them.

Then the 1990 World Series matched the defending champions and heavily favored Oakland Athletics against the Cincinnati Reds. This was to first World Series to be televised on CBS. Before this, the games alternated between ABC and NBC. The game was huge and the Reds shocked and delighted the country by sweeping the Athletics in four games. The Flash was preempted twice. It's not surprising since the network had over 30 million viewers tuning in. Then there was a huge story that dominated the news: The Gulf War.

The superhero show just couldn't compete and started slipping fast. The show needed to make big changes. While early episodes of the show featured criminals and street crime they started doing more exotic criminals. Then came the Trickster.

The Coming of the Trickster

Promotional Photo of Mark Hamill and John Shipp on The Flash (1990) Credit: CBS Television 
While the show focused on more traditional villains, like drug dealers and street crime, it was decided to bring in more elements from the comics starting with their first major villain. Bilson and De Meo were talking about doing the Trickster episode when the casting director April Webster she got a call from Mark Hamill. He said if they ever want to do the Trickster, he wanted to play him. Hamill was a huge comic book fan and even owned a comic book shop in Canada. He understood the Trickster and said that the villain's trademark flying shoes were why they cast him. Hamill joked he was literally a "Sky Walker". But he also understood how to make the Trickster work. "One of the most difficult things is translating these things that work on the page of the comic books, and doing it on camera without making it look totally ridiculous," Hamill explained.

The Trickster was a long running villain from the comics and always had a wild and colorful costume. The studio didn't want a costume for any of the villains, but The Trickster was the exception. De Meo pointed out, "The only reason he's got a costume is because he's completely out of his mind."  Hamill played Trickster as a schizophrenic, and said, "every time you saw him he was a different character. He couldn’t maintain a single character. So like you say, in one character, he’s kind of goofy and off the wall. And another character, he’s a scary grind-your-teeth psychopath. It was a dream come true… for someone who always wanted to become a character actor." He developed the laugh after playing Mozart in the stage play of Amadeus.

Comics veteran Howard Chaykin wrote the Trickster episodes and the show needed his comic book writing experience. "It was an opportunity to delve back into my own boyhood… ['The Trickster'] is much lighter and goofier than other episodes in the series," Chaykin said, "This was my first job in television... It was the best professional experience I've ever had in my life. I met people that I will gladly go to their memorial in good faith."

After the Trickster episode several other villains from the comics appeared. Captain Cold, an albino hitman with a freeze gun played by Michael Champion. Also the Mirror Master, a thug who used holograms played by former teen heartthrob David Cassidy. But for the Trickster, who's criminally insane and psychotic, they decided it could work. Captain Cold and the Mirror Master costumes were completely different from the comics. The Flash show was getting closer to the comics, but it was too late.

The Flash Runs Out of Time

With ratings dwindling, they moved the show off Thursdays to Wednesday. Finally, it was moved to Saturday. The Flash was struggling and the few viewers were having a hard time finding the show. The producers had one last chance to save the show: cut the budget. But they refused to compromise. "I mean, that’s what set us apart," Shipp said, "We were trying to do a good job, we felt, and we didn’t want to compromise on that. If you’re going to do a big show, you have to have it in the budget and you have to treat it right."

They filmed the last episode "The Trial of the Trickster". The Trickster's put on trial but escapes after an insane fan breaks him out. While the rest of the cast and crew were "running on fumes," Hamill jumped in with enthusiasm and energy. He dislocated his shoulder in a scene where the Trickster is throwing himself up against the wall of a padded cell, but he still kept going. "It was a real shot in the arm" according to Shipp.

After filming the last scene in a Los Angeles back alley, the cast celebrated. After all the problems he'd had with the suit, Shipp tore the wings off his ears and threw them away. Hamill screamed and dove to find them. He knew they had been part of something special and didn't want to let them get away.

But the show was struggling and the budget was the big tipping point. The Flash producers were told to cut the budget or the show would not come back for a second season. "None of us wanted to cut the budget," Shipp recalled, "I mean, that’s what set us apart. We were trying to do a good job, we felt, and we didn’t want to compromise on that. If you’re going to do a big show, you have to have it in the budget and you have to treat it right." They decided not to film season two.

If the show had continued, the opener would have had Captain Cold, the Mirror Master and the Trickster forming a team to take down the Flash. They were hoping to bring in Gorilla Grodd and have Rick Baker do the makeup effects.

The Flash Legacy Lives On

Promotional photo of Grant Gustin and John Shipp Credit: USA Today
It was a bold idea, but a bad time slot and a high budget killed the show. While the show was short-lived the legacy of the show lived on. Mark Hamill voiced the Joker in Batman: The Animated Series using a similar style. He even played Trickster on the animated Justice League Unlimited.

Amanda Pays returned to science fiction in shows like The X-Files and Thief Takers. John Shipp returned to television in critically acclaimed roles in shows like Dawson's Creek, One Life to Live and the Teen Wolf TV show.

Bilson and De Meo produced more television series like Viper (1994) and The Sentinel (1996) before returned to writing comics like "The Flash: Fastest Man Alive" for DC Comics.

John Shipp, Amanda Pays and Mark Hamill on The Flash (2015) Credit: The CW Network
The concept was brought back 25 years later with the CW show The Flash. The Flash executive producers Geoff Johns and Greg Bertlanti are huge fans of the show and cast some of the original cast members like John Wesley Shipp as Barry Allen's father, Pays as McGee and Hamill as an older Trickster.

"We get a lot of credit for doing this giant movie every week, but you see what went into making ['Trickster' and 'The Trial of The Trickster'], and it wasn't digital."  The Flash executive producer Andrew Kreisberg said at a screening of the original series. Nodding to the cast, he said, "You guys blew all that stuff up. It meant the world to us. If you watch our iteration, you see so many nods to it."
After all these years, the show still means a lot. Plus, Mark Hamill still has the Flash ears.
What do you think of the 90s Flash TV show? Do you remember watching any of these? What do you think of the old show and the new one?

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