Central City forensics expert Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) will face some serious challenges when The Flash returns for the second half of its debut season, but he won’t be the only DC Comics superhero taking the spotlight. Sharing super-duties with the scarlet speedster is Firestorm, played by Robbie Amell (The Tomorrow People) and Victor Garber (Alias, Argo) – and the dual credit is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what makes Firestorm one of a kind.
Introduced as the lovable fiance of Caitlin Snow Ronnie Raymond (Amell) was presumed dead after the events of the series’ pilot. Raymond would later emerge as a crazed, tortured vagrant able to turn his body to flame, making him a far cry from a costumed superhero. Now both Amell and Garber have offered more details on their shared form, the technology used to separate them, and why heroism may require a sacrifice from them both.
We’ve already offered a breakdown of the essential Firestorm facts fans should know, but the short version of the origin story sees Ronnie and Dr. Martin Stein (Garber) fused into a single form: two minds forced to occupy the same body. Speaking with CBR about their upcoming arc, the actors touched on the challenge of portraying that intimate a relationship – but why they’re eager to tackle it:
Amell: Our first episode together, we’re supposed to have been battling for control mentally against each other for over a year now, so there would be a familiarity — and we already had that. We went out for dinner before we shot anything together, in Vancouver — we saw each other at the table read, and went out to dinner that night, and got to catch back up. It was nice to come in knowing and having a friend, and having fun.
Garber: There’s an immediate trust, that you can just throw the ball, and they’ll bat it back. That’s what acting mostly is. It’s just listening and responding, and Robbie is really good at that.
Amell promises that although the ‘new’ Ronnie isn’t the one Caitlin was set to marry, that version will be back on the scene before long. Apparently, it seems that fans will have a device – seen in previous promotional photos – to thank for that.
According to Amell, that device is known as the ‘Splicer,’ presumably what makes it possible for Stein and Raymond to be separated, and allow Ronnie to return to his former self. But it may be too early to call it an actual “costume”:
Amell: [The Firestorm costume] will definitely evolve. Right now, it just happens to be the wardrobe I was wearing when the splicer gets put on. The splicer is really the only piece of the costume that I think will be consistent, and that’ll be a staple. I think the rest of it is interchangeable.
Garber: They’re going to have more money next season, so they’ll change it. [Laughs]
Both Stein and Raymond may be eager for some time apart once they’ve parted ways in the coming episodes, but just like in the comics, that division comes with a price. The two men being joined is what makes Firestorm – and his mastery over atomic structure itself – possible. Amell claims that the duo will have to team up and aid The Flash, meaning Stein must give up his own identity to save the day.
It’s not a typical take on a superhero, but that reluctance is something Garber sees as a chance for character development and some lighter humor:
In my second episode, we come together knowing that we have a responsibility, and we both take that seriously… From there on, of course, there will be banter and conflicts, which is what makes it fun.
[Dr. Martin Stein] is sort of a reluctant hero. He’s somebody who came into this without meaning to, this conjoining experience, and then, when we are finally separated… He doesn’t know quite who he is or what he is. I think it’s a process of rediscovering his atoms, and finding himself again. He’s a really smart guy who the Flash enlists for help. Barry comes to him, and they have a great meeting. I think he becomes sort of an advisor, mentor guy.
The personal and mutual sacrifices required of Ronnie and Dr. Stein is what made the hero a lasting one in the comic books, so it’s nice to hear that it will be kept alive and well in the character’s early appearances. Of course, when you have a leading man like Robbie Amell and a supporting character in (the seemingly enthusiastic) Victor Garber, a small role could seem like a bit of a waste. Especially with The CW already discussing their next superhero spinoff.
Could Ronnie Raymond and Dr. Martin Stein’s superhero duo(?) to join the shared Arrow/Flash universe? Apparently, the actors don’t have any clearer a sense of what the network is planning than the fans:
Garber: Honestly, we really don’t. Like Greg [Berlanti] was saying, there’s a lot of talking going on, and I’m sure that we’re part of that, but we’re not privy to any of that.
Amell: They don’t tell us crap. You guys will probably know before we do.
Garber: Really, I think all will be revealed at the same time, and it will come as a surprise to all of us.
There’s no question that the actors have the skills necessary to carry a CW series (with Amell having previously led the short-lived Tomorrow People), and the full reveal of Ronnie’s powers in The Flash‘s midseason finale likely convinced any skeptics. But as the characters are fleshed out over the second half of the season, it should be easier to see just what aspirations the producers have for Firestorm in the near future.
What would you like to see from Firestorm? Should the duo join the S.T.A.R. Labs team as backup for Grant Gustin’s speedster, or leave the scene once their very own mission is adopted? Share your own hopes or concerns in the comments, and we’ll keep you posted as more Firestorm details arrive.
The Flash airs Tuesdays @8pm on The CW.