How the cast of The Flash should really look

Comic books have exploded onto our screens in the past few years with all the color and intensity of a crayon factory going up in flames. It's truly a fantastic time for a superhero fan to be alive. But there's always a little bit of danger hidden in the act of adapting time-honored characters from one medium to another. Producers have to walk a razor's edge between staying true to the source material and updating the stories for a modern audience, and that can mean big changes to the characters we all grew up with. Ever wondered how the characters in The Flash should really look? Let's take a peek.

Barry Allen/Flash

Gone are the days when neon colors and skintight spandex are allowed to hang in a superhero's wardrobe. Like most of the recent comic book adaptations, the Flash's onscreen costume got put in the washer and toned down. Way down. Instead of the fire-truck red of the comic book Flash, Grant Gustin's Flash sports something closer to burgundy when he finally dons his upgraded costume, courtesy of Cisco, in Season 1. And instead of spandex, the suit's material is more reminiscent of a leather body suit. It definitely looks tougher than a leotard, for what it's worth.

Along with the suit itself, the logo on his chest is more faded on the show, with the same burgundy color inside the circle. (In the comics it was typically white.) Ditto for the earbolts. The Flash we got onscreen was a more down-to-earth version of the time-warping speedster. The last big change in the show is that CW's Barry Allen has brown hair, while in the comics he always had blond hair.

Iris West

The biggest change here is that DC chose an African-American actress (Candice Patton) to play the role of Iris West. In the comics, Iris West Allen (after she married Barry Allen) is purely Caucasian with lighter, more auburn hair. Obviously, this fits with her character on The Flash as the daughter of Detective Joe West, and you have to give it to the producers for having the guts to go with an African-American actress to play Barry Allen's love interest. Other than that one change, Iris West is practically the same person on screen and in the comics. Both are journalists in Central City, and even their heights are pretty close — Candice Patton is around 5 feet 4 inches tall, according to her IMDb bio, and Iris West in the New Earth comics line is just 2 inches taller. So kudos for that, casting department.

Cisco Ramon/Vibe

Nerdy, wisecracking Cisco Ramon is played by Carlos Valdes on The Flash. While he spent most of Season 1 as the techy sidekick, Season 2 saw his transformation into Vibe after he also developed metahuman powers. So far in the show, his costume has been completely different from the comics. In Prime Earth, Vibe has black leather pants with red trim, matching shoes, a studded leather vest, and a red and yellow mask that only covers his eyes. He also has a pair of black gauntlets and shoulder armor.

In the show, Cisco has … a leather jacket and sunglasses. Okay, they're not really sunglasses — they're goggles that give him more control over his new powers. That's a little cooler. In one of the early episodes of Season 3, Cisco showed up with a pair of black gloves, to a resounding cheer from comics fans everywhere. Maybe in the future, his onscreen costume will get closer in appearance to Vibe from the comic books.

Eobard Thawne/Reverse-Flash

The Flash is mean. We spent the whole first season of the show watching Dr. Harrison Wells guide Barry Allen into his new identity as the hero of Central City, only to be thrown out of our own wheelchairs when it was revealed that Harrison Wells had been Eobard Thawne the whole time. For some quick background, Eobard Thawne is a man from the 22nd century who admired the Flash so much that he poured his life into becoming a speedster himself. He then traveled back in time to Flash's era and realized his ultimate fate, destined to be the Flash's archnemesis, a mirror image to everything that the Flash represented. He became Reverse-Flash.

In keeping with his persona, the changes to the onscreen version of Reverse-Flash perfectly mirror the changes to the Flash himself. Where the Flash got a toned-down, leathery red costume, Reverse-Flash got the same thing in yellow. Beyond that change, the show stayed remarkably true to the comics. Reverse-Flash has the same red lightning bolt in a black circle on his chest, along with red, glowing eyes beneath his mask.

Wally West/Kid Flash

Season 2 of The Flash introduced Wally West (Keiynan Lonsdale), Iris West's long-lost brother whom her estranged mom had been raising for 18 years. He starts showing some evidence of metahuman speediness after he accidentally gets a dose of dark matter during an attempt to give Barry Allen his powers back.

Wally West doesn't spend much screentime in costume, but the CW has released several promotional images of Wally decked out in his speedster get-up. In the comics, Wally West went through several different costumes depending on his role in the story line. He eventually became the third Flash after Barry Allen. In the New 52 comic event, DC reimagined Wally West as a black teenager, and this appears to be the basis for the CW's Wally. They gave him the half-yellow, half-red costume with red earbolts and a white circle under the chest bolt logo. As far as differences go, the CW's Wally West has a chin strap on his mask and a belt instead of the seamless split that separates the comic Wally's shirt from his pants. But the biggest difference is that this version of Wally West in the comics has a lightning bolt shaved into his hair. Just buzzed right in. Why doesn't Keiynan Lonsdale have the same thing? Why wouldn't he get such a simple, yet perfect, touch? We can only shout our questions to the empty sky and wait for an answer that will never come.

Oh, and so far nobody's called Wally "Kid Flash" on the show. Cisco, resident nicknamer, would never stand for a cheesy nickname like that.

Caitlin Snow/Killer Frost

Caitlin Snow (Danielle Panabaker) has long served as the voice of reason on The Flash, albeit a fairly uptight and anal-retentive voice of reason. In Season 2, Snow discovers that her counterpart on Earth-2 is a villainess named Killer Frost who has the power of cryokinesis, a fancy way of saying she owns all things cold. In fact, she's so cold that nobody can touch her without dying. Like many characters, Killer Frost has been through several versions over the years. In the Caitlin Snow incarnation, Killer Frost is essentially an icicle pincushion with blue skin and hair made of penitentes. Needless to say, she looks absolutely nothing like Caitlin Snow in The Flash, regardless of which Earth you're talking about.

If anything, the CW crew probably based their Caitlin Snow on Louise Lincoln, the New Earth version of Killer Frost. Both The Flash's Snow and Louise Lincoln sport dark blue lips, ice-blonde hair, and tight leather outfits.

Ronnie Raymond/Firestorm

Firestorm showed up about halfway through the first season of The Flash. Created during an accidental explosion at a particle accelerator at S.T.A.R. Labs, Firestorm is the combined personas of Ronnie Raymond and Professor Martin Stein. Everybody thinks they're dead, when in reality they've been grappling with their strange new condition in secret. Basically, Raymond is Firestorm's brawn and Stein is the brains.

Possibly in the interests of realism, the CW didn't give Ronnie Raymond's version of Firestorm a costume. (When would a nuclear-powered split personality have time to sew up an outfit?) The only nod to the original character in the comics is the spidery-looking quantum splicer on Ronnie's chest. After Ronnie sacrifices himself to save Central City, the CW brought over Jax Jackson from Legends of Tomorrow to become the new Firestorm with Professor Stein. When they merge, Jax gets a suit more reminiscent of the comics, although nobody really explains where the suit comes from.

Leonard Snart/Captain Cold

Among all the metahumans that Barry Allen faces in The Flash, you wouldn't think that a regular ol' guy with a gun could cause much of a ruckus. But when that gun is the only thing that can slow down the Flash, things get a little more interesting. The criminal-minded son of a cop, Leonard Snart becomes a powerful adversary when he steals a gun that shoots a cold beam, a weapon that had been previously designed by Cisco to stop the Flash if he ever turned evil.

Side-by-side with Heat Wave and a team of other villains, Captain Cold wreaks havoc on Central City for a good bit of the first season. So how do his looks shape up? Really, the only nod to the original character is Captain Cold's fur-lined coat, which he's worn pretty consistently since his first appearance in the Silver Age of comics. We didn't even get those slitted Eskimo glasses, dammit.

Mick Rory/Heat Wave

The counterpoint to Leonard Snart's cold intelligence and icy persona, Heat Wave is a rash, impulsive villain who rarely thinks things through in his hellbent quest for destruction. His weapon is a heat gun/flamethrower which, like Captain Cold's gun, was built by Cisco. In The Flash, Heat Wave's costume is pretty much a welder's outfit, complete with rubber gloves and welding goggles. Those goggles probably help a lot when he's blasting his heat gun, but you have to wonder how he sees anything the rest of the time.

It's a shame the CW didn't go for a more comic-faithful approach with Heat Wave's wardrobe. It's not like it looked goofy in the comics. It's actually pretty badass. The modern comic version of Heat Wave has him in a loose-fitting combat turtleneck with a sensible utility belt (although older renditions did dress Heat Wave in a decidedly sillier white-and-orange flame retardant suit). In the end, the comics version and the CW version of Heat Wave share only a love for pyromania and baldness.

King Shark

There must have been some baffled looks on The Flash's production staff when the idea to use King Shark first came up. The character is a giant shark with arms and legs, which is as close to unfilmable as you can get unless you want to end up with something like this, which is from a real movie called Super Shark. But the powers that be decided to take a chance. Boy, are we glad they did. King Shark's appearance in Season 2 was nothing short of epic, and it apparently cost a lot to animate the anthropomorphic shark for the short time he was on the screen. Executive producer Andrew Kreisberger called it "a very expensive 30 seconds."

So how'd they do with King Shark's looks? Pretty good. From his impossible pants all the way down to the webbing between his fingers, The Flash's VFX guys nailed it. Apparently, they've got more guts than the makers of Suicide Squad, who really did cut King Shark from the roster because he would have been too difficult.

Gorilla Grodd

Grodd, the giant psychic gorilla, was another unlikely candidate for an appearance on The Flash, but we're happy he made the final cut, too. As far as appearances go, The Flash and the comics version of Grodd are practically identical. They're just really big gorillas, after all. However, the show did take some leeway with Grodd's origin story. After the New 52 event, Grodd was introduced as a prince in ancient Gorilla City who killed his father to take the throne. In The Flash, Grodd was created by General Eiling during one of his messed-up experiments. Gorilla Grodd escaped to the sewers of Central City, where we find him in The Flash.

General Wade Eiling

Clancy Brown makes a terrific evil general, but you can't help thinking his character could be so much more. As a general in the military, the Wade Eiling in the comics looks a lot like Clancy Brown's character — mostly just an old guy in a general's uniform. But we want to see Eiling transform into the indestructible Shaggy Man, like he did in JLA Vol. 1 #24. That story line sees General Eiling pull up Shaggy Man's body from the bottom of the Pacific Ocean so that he can transfer his brain wavelengths into Shaggy Man's body, turning the general into an unstoppable beast with equal parts brawn and brains. Would Clancy Brown work as a CG'd version of himself with hulking muscles and saber teeth? We'd like to be the first to say are you freaking kidding? Of course he would!

But don't worry, we're not going to hold our breath on that one. The people behind The Flash obviously know what they're doing, and one thing that will always set comics apart from movies and TV shows is the sheer insanity of the story lines. If The Flash started running with every crazy thing the speedster did in the comic books, it wouldn't be long before the show stopped making any kind of sense whatsoever.