Barry Allen has returned! And with it, the STAR Labs gang faced a lot of changes during the premiere of The Flash’s fourth season. While Barry was (willingly?) trapped in the Speed Force for around six month, Cisco, Wally, and Iris attempted to fill the void by fighting some minor metas who plagued Central City. After his grandiose return, though, Barry Allen will now have new major villains to tangle with in the forms of the Mechanic, Blacksmith, and most notably, the Thinker. Each season of the CW’s breakout hit has — so far — seen Barry facing off against dark versions of himself, in both power set and personality, as each main antagonist was a twisted speedster. This season, the EPs have promised that with The Thinker, the “evil speedster” model will no longer be a villainous focal point. Rather, this Big Bad will be an intelligent threat that leans more into the technological realm than the one of speed. The Thinker himself has been a villain of Flash lore since a time before even Barry Allen wore the tights, so the history there is an early one to be sure.
The Thinker, in terms of origin, is closest to the Batman villain Two Face in that they shared the same occupation before donning the look of a super villain. Once upon a time, Thinker was Cliff Devoe, the district attorney of Keystone City. A smarter-than-average individual, Devoe dedicated his life to attempting to quash all crime within the city’s limits. However, after losing a trial against one of the big mob bosses of Keystone, Cliff talked himself into joining the wrong side of the law, his ego unable to take the fact that it may have been his fault for losing all along.
Following this series of events, Devoe spent ten years dedicating himself to learning how to perfect the art of crime while running rackets himself. Outwitting the mob boss at his own game, the Thinker was born and caused his one time rival to take his own life. Banding together with other villains in the form of the Shade and the Fiddler, Devoe attempted to widen his grip on the crime world in Keystone, but was eventually thwarted by The Flash.
As with most comic book super villains, The Thinker eventually got an upgrade. Aside from simply being a genius in the art of crime, Devoe eventually managed to connect to the internet itself. Using his appropriately dubbed “Thinking Cap,” Devoe dove headfirst into the internet and left his physical body completely, as he had actually had brain cancer at the time. When his body died, the Thinker truly became something of an artificial intelligence, first coming into being through the computers of the Justice Society of America. From here, Devoe took his place as a Flash villain once again, this time threatening Wally West, who was the one and only Flash at the time. Wally managed to overload the Thinker’s new artificial brain by pumping the Speed Korce directly into it, and he returned to a low-key comic book limbo from here. Much like Savitar, the Thinker had a comic book history with the Flash as a villain who appeared sparingly, which allows the television show to take some liberties with the character and make it their own.
As mentioned above, when Devoe was human, he was simply a man with a high level intelligence who dedicated nearly all of his free time to becoming the “Kingpin of Keystone City.” When he found the “thinking cap,” he was able to boost his intelligence multiple times over, becoming one of the smartest beings on the planet. When he eventually received his upgrade as a technological demigod, his powers became a little crazy and unstable. Connecting to the information superhighway allowed Cliff to drag people into his realm and even had him attempting to change the entirety of both Keystone and Central cities into a technological playground that he would rule. The Thinker also managed to control the minds of those he was able to make contact with in the real world, at one point using the Flash’s own body in an attempt to take down the Rogues, who were the only roadblock in his path to dragging cities into the internet. The Thinker also happens to have one of the most ridiculous designs in super villain history, but that’s neither here nor there. Not as much of a physical threat as a psychological one, the Thinker presents a new challenge for team Flash in the CW’s show’s fourth season that’s for sure.
Speaking of the series, we have only gotten our very first glimpse of The Thinker (played by Neil Sandilands from Game of Thrones). With Barry having returned from the grips of the Speed Force to fight the “Samaroid,” the Thinker was briefly introduced as the mastermind behind the attack. Looking somewhat similar to his comic book counterpart (though the color scheme of bright green and silver was wisely changed) his plans remain a mystery, even though it’s clear that Barry is at the center of them. Considering the Thinker managed to put together a fully automated super villain himself in the form of the destructive Samurai, it’s clear that his powers are going to be more than a match for Team Flash as the season kicks into high gear. Needless to say, after three seasons of Barry tangling with “dark speedsters,” a new type of villain will certainly be a breath of fresh air.
The Flash airs Tuesday nights on The CW; check out more of our recent coverage below:
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- ‘The Flash’ Recap: “The Flash Reborn” – This House is Bitchin’
- ‘The Flash’ EP on Returning a Season 1 Vibe, the New Approach to the Crossover, and More