Superheroes are defined by their villains, be it directly or indirectly. This is a fundamental fact of the conflict that lies at the core of stories featuring masked men and the people who oppose them. For example, many point to the duality of Batman and Joker. It’s been said that one cannot exist without the other. When it comes to villains, the Dark Knight’s collection of foes is widely regarded as one of the best in the medium. However, there’s one other DC hero, The Flash, whose enemies are almost as well regarded.

The Flash has been plagued by the villainy of The Rogues for decades. They were initially introduced individually, with Captain Cold being the first to debut in 1957. But it wasn’t long after their introductory appearances they began teaming up (at first as a part of a scheme orchestrated by Gorilla Grodd) and since then they rarely commit crimes on their own. Originally derisively nicknamed “The Rogues Gallery” after the policing term, they eventually took the name as a quasi-official title for their team.

The roster is somewhat rotational, but there are a few core members who have been with the team in nearly all of their incarnations. The most common amongst them is Leonard Snart, Captain Cold. Armed with a gun that fires freezing energy, he’s a career criminal with a fairly strict moral code. He often comes into conflict with Heat Wave, a pyromaniac who is the appropriate Yang to Snart’s Yin. Mirror Master, a fairly popular villain within the team, appears regularly as well. He’s a thief who uses mirrors to travel through alternate dimensions and commit crimes. The original Mirror Master, Sam Scudder is long dead and has since been replaced by Evan McCulloch (pre New-52. Ugh.). Another mainstay of the team is Captain Boomerang, an Aussie mercenary with a penchant for curved, aerofoil weaponry.

The rest of the team tends to fluctuate a bit more, but typically more than a few of the following are featured: The Trickster (a psychopath with a love for jokes and general silliness), Weather Wizard (an escaped prisoner with stolen weather manipulating technology), The Top (a dude who can spin really fast…hey, it was the silver age of comics, what do you expect?), Golden Glider (Snart’s sister who has skates that create ice as she moves) and Pied Piper (an aristocrat that can induce mind control with sonic vibrations).

Within film and television, The Rogues have had a pretty healthy presence individually. As a team, they’ve only shown up a handful of times. As such, I’ll look at some of the more memorable Rogues that have appeared outside of the printed page and then examine the scant times they’ve actually worked together.

Ah, the 70’s…

Weather Wizard probably has the most media appearances of the Rogues. In animation, he showed up in three shows within the DC Animated Universe. He guest starred (along with The Flash) in an episode of Superman: The Animated Series. This same iteration of the character had small, scattered appearances in Justice League and JLU. The former saw him as a founding member of the Superman Revenge Squad and the latter, oddly, excluded him from the episode that focused on the Rogues (more on that later). He also had a few guest-spots on Batman: The Brave and the Bold. In live-action, he was first adapted in the 1970’s during the TV special, Legends of the Superheroes. He shows up to a roast of the JLA hosted by Ed McMahon (yep) and displayed his powers humorously. It wasn’t until the JLA TV pilot that he was seen again, played by Miguel Ferrer (who voiced him on Superman) however his backstory and name were changed considerably. Recently, the character showed up as a villain in the pilot for The Flash and it was announced that another version (one truer to the WW of the comic) would be making an appearance later in the first season.

Not pictured: Scottish accent.
Wynters: because ‘Cold’ wasn’t
descriptive enough.

Captain Cold’s first animated appearance was in the Challenge of the Super Friends cartoon from the 1970’s. He was one of only two Flash villains (the other being Grodd) to appear on the Legion of Doom within the show. This version also gets a call-back in 2014’s DTV movie JLA: Trapped in Time. In the animated film Justice League: A New Frontier, Captain Cold (visually modeled on Grant Morrison) shows up to rob a casino but is stopped by Flash in a scene that’s identical to the comic on which it’s based. Cold didn’t have an individual appearance in TV animation again until Young Justice in 2010 which often allied him with other ice-based villains (in a similar manner as Superman/Batman: Public Enemies in which he has a bit part). In live action, his first appearance came in an episode of 1990’s short-lived Flash television series. He was portrayed as an albino hitman named Leonard Wynters (get it?!) who froze his victims with ice-bombs and a freeze beam. He only had one appearance but was slated to return, had the show continued. The final season of Smallville gave Cold a cameo as a villain hired by Toyman to kill Impulse. Currently, Wentworth Miller portrays Snart on CW’s The Flash. The character is much more in-line with his comic book origins and he’s even began putting together a Rogues’ Gallery of his own…

Superpower: glorious sideburns.

Despite being one of the most recognizable Rogues, Boomerang has had only a handful of meaningful appearances in film and television. He’s had scant references and cameos in Smallville, Justice League and the film Superman/Batman: Public Enemies but his first real appearance wasn’t until a 2005 episode of JLU that focused on Task Force X. Boomer was one of the inmates recruited to break into the League’s headquarters within the episode. He only made one later appearance on the show. The Suicide Squad came calling for him again in the 2014 movie, Batman: Assault on Arkham which found Digger Harkness and TFX breaking into Arkham Asylum to perform an assassination. In live action, the character has only been portrayed once, by Nick Tarabay on two episodes of Arrow. In it, he’s an escaped Squad member who takes the fight back to the agency. Soon, he’ll be seen in a big-budget adaptation of Suicide Squad where he’ll be played by Jai Courtney. We’ll see how that turns out in a couple of years. It’s interesting to me that most of his media portrayals seem to ignore his association with the Flash and focus on his time with the Suicide Squad.

Some things…
…never change.

Possibly the most lasting impact a Rogue has made comes from an unlikely source: The Trickster. His first appearance was in a multi-episode arc from The Flash TV series in the early 90’s. He’s portrayed as an unhinged killer who uses pranks and wacky devices to murder people. He’s a bit more blood-thirsty than the comic counterpart, but he certainly made a lasting impression on fans. He was played by Mark Hamill (before playing Joker on Batman: The Animated Series) who returned to the character in an episode of JLU. That take was much more sympathetic to the character and featured a refreshingly honest look at mental illness. What’s more, Hamill will be playing the character again on an upcoming episode of CW’s The Flash. It’s gotten to the point that I can’t imagine any other actor portraying the character.

Voiced by John Larroquette.

Other Rogues have had bit parts, individually, in other media. Mirror Master showed up in a couple of animated appearances and once in live-action in the 90’s Flash series (played by David Cassidy no less!). Abra Kadabra was defeated by Batman in a teaser to an episode of Brave and the Bold while also having cameo appearances in other animated series. Heat Wave and Pied Piper both had incredibly minor cameos in a few cartoons before getting re-occurring roles on the current Flash series.

Rogues’ Ga-nime.

As a team, the Rogues have fared about the same in expanded media (small, but memorable appearances). Their sole film appearance comes from the animated movie Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox. In it, Reverse-Flash manipulates the team into setting a trap for the Flash which sets up the film’s main conflict. Other than that, they’ve had no presence in any of DC’s movies. Since none of the big-budget, live-action films have focused on Flash yet, that’s not too surprising. However, with the announcement that a Flash movie will be a part of their new cinematic universe, expect to see some form of the Rogues in the relatively-near future.

Bros Gallery.

In animated television, they’ve appeared together on only two shows. “Flash and Substance”, an  episode of JLU introduced the team and pitted them against Wally West during the opening of a museum dedicated to the Flash. Their appearance was brief but very respectful to the source characterizations, which was par for the course for this show. They later appeared on Brave and the Bold where their codependence on the scarlet speedster is played for both sincerity and laughs.

See you again, next season!

Within live action television, the Rogues were going to be featured in the second season of the 90’s Flash series, but since it was cancelled after the first, it never materialized. Luckily, a second season of the current television series is already a sure-thing and some of the groundwork has already been laid for the entire team to make a unified appearance. A majority of the members have already been introduced and a recent episode titled, “Going Rogue” featured a team-up between Heat Wave and Captain Cold with a cameo by Golden Glider. Needless to say, there’s plenty to look forward to on the Rogue front in this series.

I find the Rogues interesting for many reasons. Within the comics, they’re typically portrayed as very human and rarely come off as mustache-twisting caricatures. Within expanded media, it’s interesting to me that they’ve had a pretty significant presence in various shows, but get little notice in larger pop culture. My guess is because they’re overshadowed by Batman’s well-known enemies. But who knows? After a big-screen appearance or two, maybe all that will change.

We’ll be waiting…”

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