The CW’s The Flash is well-known for its portrayal of Eobard Thawne, the Reverse Flash. The accuracy to the comics, combined with Tom Cavanagh and Matt Letscher’s performances, made the villain a standout. One character who definitely didn’t resemble the source material, however, was Savitar. Introduced as the big bad of Season 3, the villain’s backstory, motivation and design bore no resemblance to the comic book character.
Here’s a look at the original version of the evil speedster, the CW version and how much they diverge.
The original Savitar, created by Mark Waid and Oscar Jimenez, first appeared in 1995’s The Flash #108. He was a pilot from developing nation, operating during the Cold War. His plane was struck by lightning, granting him superspeed that helped him survive in enemy territory. Naming himself after the Hindu god of motion, he developed a cult around himself while also seeking out further information pertaining to speed. This led to a battle against Johnny Quick and Max Mercury, with the heroes going into the future to train the Flash family for when Savitar would escape his Speed Force prison.
He returned decades later, finding a world in which his cult and the amount of speedsters had dramatically increased. He teamed up with the former Lady Flash to steal speed for the Flash family, but Wally West’s connection to the Speed Force prevented this plan from being completed. When challenged to a global race against Wally, Savitar eventually became one with the Speed Force. He also reappeared years later in the The Flash: Rebirth, but was promptly, accidentally killed by a revived Barry Allen.
The CW, unlike with their adaptations of the other Reverse Flashes, heavily altered Savitar. Here, he was a time remnant of Barry Allen who had been created in Barry’s attempts to defeat Zoom. This caused a split timeline, with Savitar’s divergent timeline seeing the real Barry trapped in the Speed Force and the disfigured copy shunned for not being the real person. This sent him back in time to ruin Barry’s life, appearing throughout history to bolster the myth that he was the original speedster. To further his plans, he empowered Dr. Alchemy and The Rival, as well as trapping Wally West in the Speed Force.
His eventual plans involved killing Iris, so as to make the real Barry suffer in the same way he had. This plan seemingly worked, until it was revealed that “Iris” was actually one of the various versions of Harrison Wells in disguise. The real Iris finally took Savitar out herself, shooting him and erasing him from the timeline for good.
The CW’s Savitar, name aside, had almost nothing in common with the original character. Even his appearance was different, with his armored suit bearing an uncanny resemblance to the 2007 live action Transformers movie version of Megatron. The small antennae on the side of his head were the only elements that matched the comics. He did briefly have his own cult in the show, however.
Savitar’s tragic backstory was a combination of various evil Flashes. The idea of a Flash turned dark by the loss of his wife is similar to Walter West, a mirror of Wally West. The silver armor Savitar wears even matches the silver lightning bolt on Walter’s costume. Savitar also states in one episode that he’s the “future Flash.” This could be in reference to a murderous future version of The Flash introduced during the New 52, who again traveled back in time after suffering a great tragedy. Savitar’s blue lightning also matches the blue costume of Future Flash.
Another huge influence was Daniel West, the New 52 Reverse Flash. After gaining his Speed Force powers, Daniel traveled back in time to take revenge upon his abusive father. Unlike Thawne and Zolomon, his Reverse Flash costume had armored plates, likely inspiring Savitar’s armor. Another, rather ironic choice of inspiration may have been the controversial Spider-Man story “The Clone Saga.” One of the saga’s villains was Kaine, a scarred, murderous copy of Peter Parker who sought revenge for not having the life that Parker had. Whatever the influence, the CW’s version of one of the Flash’s biggest villains was almost entirely original.
The Flash Season 3 big bad, Savitar, bears almost no resemblance to his DC Comics counterpart.