by Ryan J. Downey
When it comes to high school bullies, few are as iconic in geek culture as Flash Thompson. His first appearance dates all the way back to Spider-Man's debut in Amazing Fantasy #15, which sprang forth from the fertile minds of Stan Lee and Steve Ditko in August, 1962. The blonde football star has taunted poor Peter Parker in various incarnations ever since.
"The Secret Circle" star Chris Zylka is the latest actor to interpret the role last played onscreen by future "True Blood" star Joe Manganiello, who played Flash in Sam Raimi's first "Spider-Man" film in 2002 and returned for a brief cameo in "Spider-Man 3." Zylka spoke to MTV News this week about his take on the character in this year's reboot, "The Amazing Spider-Man," which will, of course, pit him against Andrew Garfield's Peter Parker in the Mark Webb-directed flick.
"I definitely read the comic books and got as familiar with the comic books as possible," Chris told us by phone. "I was always a fan of Spider-Man and most superheroes. There aren't a whole lot of little boys out there that aren't."
The 26-year-old actor has had a lot of experience playing high school kids, including his current role as reformed witch hunter Jake on "The Secret Circle." He's also experienced with reboots and sequels, as evidenced by his small roles on "90210" a few years ago and the upcoming "Piranha 3DD."
With bullying such a hot-button topic in pop culture, Chris worked to offer a deeper take on Flash, who was written as a bit of a mean simpleton in the Steve Ditko days (often calling poor Peter "Puny Parker") before eventually adopting a somewhat more sympathetic persona.
"I just really tried to delve into 'why'," he said. "Why does Flash do this? And to try to show that to the audience a little bit more than just beating up on Peter or just being an adoring fan of Spider-Man. And maybe showing the backstory a bit more to the character, why he's a bully and stuff like that."
It's funny for us longtime Marvel fans to think about Flash Thompson having an "arc," but from what Chris told us, it sounds like that may be the case in "The Amazing Spider-Man." And in fairness to the character, he did serve in the Iraq War in the comic books. Furthermore, he's currently fighting alongside the rest of The Secret Avengers as the new host for the Venom symbiote.
"[This take on Flash] is maybe showing why and also trying to show why you don't have to be a bully," Chris said. "Just show that area where it's like, 'Oh!' You have an 'a-ha' moment in your life where it's like, 'This isn't cool. Why am I doing this?' Hopefully that plays well. We'll see!"
"The Amazing Spider-Man" hits theaters July 3, 2012.
Are you looking forward to seeing Chris Zylka as Flash Thompson? Let us know in the comments below and on Twitter!