Last week on The Flash, audiences learned the true identity of Savitar — and immediately some started to speculate that it might be possible he was in fact a hero somehow playing some kind of long game, rather than the villain he has appeared to be all season long.
After learning the particulars of his origin this week, that certainly doesn’t seem to be the case — but those who have been reading The Flash for long enough might remember a character who calls to mind some of Savitar’s defining characteristics.
And he was, in fact, not a villain.
In the 1990s, The Flash series starred Wally West, not Barry Allen; Barry had sacrificed himself in the mid-’80s in Crisis on Infinite Earths. And at various points, Wally would vanish into the Speed Force, appear to die, or other similar problems.
In The Flash #150, Barry found himself working with Barry during the Crisis, and inadvertently creating a temporal anomaly that would have killed Barry earlier and doomed the multiverse. Instead, Wally managed to race a mysterious blue flame into the Speed Force, seemingly dying to save Barry and thus the multiverse.
In the present day in Wally’s home of Keystone City, a man in a modified Flash costume, and bearing a scar on his face, appeared. While not evil, he remained mysterious for a long time and was certainly more harsh with villains than The Flash would typically have been. Eventually it was revealed that he was Wally West from an alternate future where he had suffered quite a few losses, including the loss of the love of his life, Linda Park.
In those same comics, Savitar was actually ancient; that wasn’t merely a trick he was playing, as on the TV series. He battled various speedsters throughout history and his true identity was never revealed. For the purposes of the TV series, in which the Big Bad has had a major and emotionally-wrenching “reveal” every season, they appear to have combined elements of the Dark Flash/Future Wally storyline in order to craft a powerful villain with unparalleled control over the Speed Force, but whose identity was relevant.
The Flash airs Tuesday nights at 8 p.m. ET/PT on The CW.