HOLD ONTO YOUR BOOTS…HERE COMES HURRICANE IRIS…
When The Flash premiered on the CW in 2014, it won glowing reviews from comic fans and newcomers alike. With charming performers like Grant Gustin (Barry Allen/The Flash), Jesse L. Martin (Joe West), Carlos Valdes (Cisco Ramon), and Tom Cavanagh (Harrison Wells) at the core of the cast and ingenious special effects delivering a super heroic punch, the Arrow spin-off quickly became the most watched show in the network’s history. But there was a hitch in The Flash’s sprint to TV greatness. Through no fault of the actresses playing its female leads, characters Iris West and Caitlin Snow have never quite matched the stride of the show itself when it’s humming on all cylinders. But the third-season premiere proves that The Flash has finally figured out how to use one of its leading ladies.
In her initial incarnation on the show, Candice Patton’s (Iris) fulfilled a function old as time on superhero shows: the love interest with no idea how super the show’s hero is. As many have pointed out, The Flash is the CW’s version of Superman (versus Arrow as Batman), so Iris—with her journalism job, clandestine rooftop meetings with a mysterious crime fighter, and general cluelessness about his nerdy alter ego—slid right into a role we’ve seen a number of on-screen Lois Lanes play out.
But cluelessness is not a good look on an otherwise smart female lead in 2014, and the show took a big step forward at the end of the first season when Iris discovered the truth about Barry Allen. And while Season 2 didn’t immediately know what to do with a clued-in Iris, the character finally delivered on Patton’s potential in Episode 21, “The Runaway Dinosaur.” Iris got to be funny, part of the action, and the emotional anchor to Allen’s lost hero.
And when The Flash debuted its ambitious, timeline-altering “Flashpoint” story in this Tuesday’s premiere, one of its best changes was to reboot the Barry/Iris dynamic. As Keiyana Lonsdale (Wally West) main sidekick, Iris was not only something of a crime fighter in her own right. The episode made several explicit callbacks to the show’s Season 1 pilot and, in one case, flipped the script by having Iris, not Barry, deliver the shaky excuse for running away from a date in order to go save the day.
And with Barry’s parents surviving, the Flashpoint plot also erased the somewhat queasy backstory that had Iris and Barry grow up as adopted siblings. Their brother-sister dynamic has always gotten in the way of the easy chemistry between Gustin and Patton. Without it hanging over the premiere, they practically sizzled. Iris didn’t once feel shoehorned into the plot—she delivered as a natural partner to Barry in every way.
Patton herself seemed to relish the Iris upgrade.
Courtesy of: Vanity Fair