The CW has proven that it really can keep a lid on its plans for the superhero shared universe spawned by The Flash and Arrow after all, as the information regarding its next spinoff series has been limited to official casting announcements. The relationship that the new show will forge with the existing stars and casts has yet to be determined, but fans now have a major hint.
The network has now announced that is has added actor Franz Drameh (Attack the Block, Edge of Tomorrow) in what sounds like an original role - for now - with a connection to the S.T.A.R. Labs team introduced in The Flash. But we have our own suspicions that the network may have finally added another fan-favorite hero to its TV universe - one sure to get speculation storming.
First, the facts: aside from the existing cast members confirmed for the spinoff - Ray Palmer (Brandon Routh), Captain Cold (Wentworth Miller), and Martin Stein (Victor Garber) - it was reported at the time that three additional cast members were being sought, with word that three previously-unseen DC Comics superheroes would be introduced on the show.
Arthuer Darvill cast as time traveler Rip Hunter was one, and we speculated that Ciara Renée's Hawkgirl would be the other (despite a brief, non-superpowered appearance on Smallville). Now, the character description for Franz Drameh's role looks to be the third and final DC hero in the team's roster.
Have a look at the new official description, as compared to the original casting details leaked:
'Jay Jackson' - a former high school athlete, whose pro-career was derailed by injury. Now making ends meets as an auto mechanic, Jay will come to have a surprising affiliation to the S.T.A.R. Labs crew.
MYSTERY HERO | An African-American male in his twenties will fill the role of a regular, street smart guy who unexpectedly gains powers, and then, as part of the team, regularly quips about the insanity of the situations.
The original description fit the title of "mystery hero" quite well, offering as basic a premise for a superhero as possible. There is no DC Comics hero by the name of 'Jay Jackson' either, which, paired with original title of 'Mystery Hero,' leads us to believe that The CW is going to extremes to keep the character's actual identity a secret. And going by the new details, a few candidates will immediately jump to mind.
You can't mention a "high school athlete" in the context of the Justice League without Vic Stone a.k.a. Cyborg becoming the obvious reference. However, with Cyborg already introduced on Smallville (played by the late Lee Thompson Young), and set to join the big screen Justice League, the pieces don't quite fit.
Some other options are also possible, hinging on the fact that the casting description revealed the producers were actively looking to add an 'African American' character (Drameh is British). The recent buzz surrounding the electricity-fueled superhero Static threw his name into the ring when the casting description first appeared, but with little actual evidence.
Given everything we know about the existing cast of The Flash, the showrunners' previous comments on what heroes and storylines they would like to pursue in the future, and the overt mention of a "surprising" connection to the show's core cast members in this official description, another superhero seems to be a very real possibility: Wally West.
The decision to re-introduce Wally West a.k.a. 'Kid Flash' as an African-American adolescent in DC's New 52 Universe was (predictably) met some controversy - but the producers of The Flash made their stance quite clear. According to the show's producers, they were crafting the TV series at the same time that the New 52 Wally was being fleshed out, and cast African-American actors for the West Family as a result. More recently, the same producers claimed if Wally were to arrive, it would likely be in the show's second season (given the current conflicts).
The runaway success of the series may have turned the showrunners' hopes into much, much more, meaning it's not outside the realm of possibility that an estranged member of the West family could appear in The Flash season 2 - especially given the recent hints at Joe West's absent wife. It's assumed she passed away at some point in Iris and Barry's childhood, but there's no evidence to suggest Iris couldn't have at least a half-brother somewhere in the world.
How 'Jay Jackson' goes from an auto mechanic to a superhero will be a (hopefully) surprising twist, but with rumors of Hawkgirl appearing on the set of The Flash, and the spinoff's other cast members already established, fans may get their first look at Franz Drameh's character (and superpower discovery) next season.
All things considered, dealing with his introduction - and the possible resurrection of Sara Lance (Caity Lotz) - before heading to the spinoff in midseason would be a clever way of launching the series. Obviously, the necessary changes to the Wally West character may bother some purists (since Wally was traditionally Iris' nephew, and a protege of Barry's), but who know: they might be brought around if he ended up with Linda Park (Malese Jow) - his long-time love.
We'll keep you updated, and of course, this is all speculation on our part until The CW offers more of a character description. There's still a chance the network is simply introducing an original superhero, or a classic crime-fighter with a new civilian identity and origin story. The most recent Arrow/Flash crossover hinted that more metahumans may exist outside of Central City, so nearly any superhero is a valid guess at this point.
It may all be a massive coincidence - The Flash showrunners having plans to potentially introduce Wally West in season 2, and this new hero possibly introduced in the same window prior to a spinoff role - but connecting these dots seems easy enough, and is the kind of twist they may want to keep under wraps for the time being.
Do you hope to see Wally West join the show's universe in this fashion (perhaps with superspeed, but not on Barry's level)? Or do you think the writers could find another way to skip over the decade or so needed to usher Wally in as a colleague and protege to Barry? Sound off in the comments.
The Flash airs Tuesdays @8pm on The CW.