A new season and another villainous speedster has ventured to Central City to wreak havoc on Barry Allen and company. Savitar, whose name comes from the Hindu god Savitr, proved a worthy adversary in the midseason finale of The Flash. But, the show altered his menacing look and overwhelming abilities from his original comic book form.
Savitar in the Comics
Debuting in 1995, Savitar became a major overarching villain for the Wally West incarnation of the Flash. West took up the mantle after Barry Allen gave his life during the popular 1986 storyline Crisis on Infinite Earths. Besides the huge difference between Savitar’s original ’90s-inspired shirtless genie look and his current more Transformers-esque look, there are many parallels between these two takes on the ‘God of Motion’.
Similar to the show, Savitar is only a god because he calls himself one. Originally, the villain was a flesh-and-blood man who discovered he had powers. In the comics, his powers came via the ever-popular lightning strike that also gave birth to the Flash’s powers. In The Flash: Rebirth #1, lightning strikes were also responsible for granting many more Central City residents with super-speed.
Savitar: Comics vs. TV
Mark Waid and Oscar Jimenez developed the original Savitar. He started as a Cold War pilot who, while testing a supersonic jet, lightning struck thus giving him his powers. On the other hand, the TV version is rumored to have been the first known metahuman to discover the speed force and his speed is directly linked to the powers of Doctor Alchemy’s Philosopher’s Stone. Alchemy’s need to follow the ‘God of Speed’ is because his powers are connected to the stone, creating a solid bond between the two villains.
While he had a cult of followers, Savitar did not share a permanent power bond with his minions in the comics. His followers were called Thunderbolt Agents and their abilities play a key role in the true power of their leader. Savitar granted the Agents their abilities as he can manipulate and re-distribute the speed force powers as he sees fit. And by re-distribute, that also means that he can steal a speedster’s powers and add it to his own or give them to one of his many acolytes.
Becoming One With the Speed Force
This came to a halt as Wally West’s strong bond with the speed force prevented Savitar from taking his powers. As a result, Wally West was able to thwart Savitar’s plans to become one with the speed force. Perhaps the most intriguing of all similarities between the Arrowverse-version and the DC Comics version is Savitar’s original demise. In the comic, Savitar was not done with Wally West. He took him on one final destructive race before the Flash gave in to what he wanted.
Savitar became one with the speed force and no one heard from him again until 2009’s Geoff Johns-penned comic Flash: Rebirth. That appearance was short-lived though as Allen had just returned from the dead and did not realize that Professor Zoom (Eobard Thawne) was tampering with his powers. So, after tracking a recently-returned Savitar, Allen touched him, accidentally leaving the ‘God of Motion’ in a pile of dust.
The Future of Savitar
Where that will leave the TV version of Savitar is unclear. But the unceremonious death of the villain in the comics turned out to be more of an afterthought. If Arrowverse fans are going to remember Savitar as a strong TV villain, he’s going to need to impact the show more heavily than he has to date. And with the midseason finale’s potential reveal of Iris‘ death looming, Savitar could wind up at the top of the list when it comes to deadly villains in the Arrowverse.