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After three seasons worth of evil speedsters as the show’s year-long “Big Bad”, the producers of The Flash revealed at the most recent PaleyFest that for season 4, the main villain won’t have super speed, a departure from villains like the Reverse Flash, Zoom, and Savitar. And in this week’s episode, which featured classic Flash villain Abra Kadabra – a bad guy who is from the 64th Century and knows Barry Allen’s future – he revealed the name of a forthcoming adversary: DeVoe. Most fans are guessing this is an early indication as to next season’s major bad guy.
But just who the heck is DeVoe? Even the most hardcore Flash fan was left running to their handy DC Comics Encyclopedia. In the comics, Clifford DeVoe is a genius inventor who used technology of his own creation to make his infamous “thinking cap” which gave him formidable mental powers. DeVoe was a member of the Injustice Society, as well as one of the Flash’s oldest foes. Originally introduced way back in 1943, he actually wasn’t a villain of Barry Allen’s Flash initially, but fought the original Scarlet Speedster, Jay Garrick.
So is this the version of the Thinker we are getting next season? Not so fast. (Ha, get it?) While DeVoe was the real name of the original Thinker, there have been several other villains to use that name in DC Comics‘ 80-year history. The second Thinker was Cliff Carmichael, who was primarily a Firestorm villain. Carmichael took the original Thinker’s “thinking cap” and tried to upgrade it, implanting microchip versions of the helmet into his own brain. The Cliff Carmichael version of the Thinker didn’t have as long a career in villainy, and died not long after joining the Suicide Squad.
There was a third Thinker named Des Conner, who was a telepath that seemingly didn’t have much of a connection to the previous two, who briefly fought Batman. Finally, the most recent Thinker was actually not a person at all, but an artificial intelligence. The Justice Society’s Mr. Terrific (now appearing on Arrow, as luck would have it) designed a computer system based on the original Thinker’s “Thinking Cap” technology, and modeled after his brain pattern. As always seems to happen, the A.I. system gained consciousness and took on a visual hologram form before wreaking havoc on Wally West’s Flash.
If I had to make an educated guess as to which Thinker we are getting on The Flash, I’m going to say “all of them.” It’s what I call “the Clayface approach.” Back in 1992, Batman: The Animated Series introduced the villain Clayface to the show (in the episode “Feat of Clay“). In the comics, Batman had fought several villains with the name Clayface. The animated show took the approach that combining them into one character was the best way to go.
In the comics, there was the disgruntled actor, Basil Karlo, as well as Matt Hagen, the treasure hunter who could literally become living clay, and Preston Payne, a man who used Matt Hagen’s DNA to halt his own degenerative condition, but who had difficulty controlling his powers. Bruce Timm and the producers decided to combine aspects of all three different Clayfaces into one person. Could this be what The Flash producers do with the Thinker?
We know that the Thinker will carry the original character’s last name, DeVoe. He’ll probably have some kind of version of his “thinking cap” that gives him mental powers. But don’t be surprised if, over the course of a season, he upgrades the technology and implants microchips into his own brain like the second Thinker, and ultimately, downloads his consciousness into a computer system like Thinker #3, creating one unique “big bad” truly worthy of team Flash’s time.
So why is the Thinker worthy of being the main villain for a whole season of the Flash? Frankly, I think that the whole “Barry needs to be faster than person X” plot line has run (Ha again! its course after three years. We know Barry is ultimately the fastest man alive – the pre-opening credits always remind us of that. What Grant Gustin‘s version of the character needs now is someone who poses a challenge not to his physicality as the Flash, but to his intellect as Barry Allen. It’s something we haven’t really seen on the show before, and would be a welcome change of pace (Man, I’m full of ’em!). A baddie like the Thinker could be perfect for this.
What do you think of the Thinker as the season 4 main villain? Is there another Flash baddie you’d prefer to see? Let us know down below in the comments.