Ever since it was announced that The Flashwouldn't just be bringing the titular DC Comics hero to audiences, but would also include Firestorm: The Nuclear Man, it was clear some surprise lay in store. The character was initially announced to be played by Robbie Amell (The Tomorrow People), but now the other half of the 'Firestorm Matrix' has been cast: Victor Garber (Alias, Sleepy Hollow), an actor so well-established, it would seem a shame if his role within The CW's DC Comics universe was planned to be a small one.
Since Firestorm is certainly a lesser-known hero compared to either The Flash or Arrow, some context is likely needed. In the original comics origin story, high school student Ronnie Raymond is caught in a freak physics disaster which fuses both he and the brilliant (but somewhat arrogant) Dr. Martin Stein into a single body - the superhero (and Justice League member) known as Firestorm.
For Raymond, that means becoming a hero with mastery over matter itself. For Stein, it means becoming a disembodied voice within Ronnie's mind, supplying the brains to his brawn.
So when Amell (cousin to Arrow star Stephen Amell) was announced in the role - now re-imagined as the presumed-dead fiancé of S.T.A.R. Labs' Caitlin Snow (Danielle Panabaker) - fans knew that was only half the casting. Now, Variety reports that Garber has been cast in the recurring role of Dr. Martin Stein, with his character description strongly resembling that of the comics books. As yet another brilliant mind at S.T.A.R. Labs, Stein's pursuit of transmutation is granted by the particle accelerator explosion - albeit with some unforeseen side effects.
For now, the role is specifically limited, like Amell's, to The Flash in a recurring capacity. But if you've been following The CW's stance on adding even more characters to their DC Comics universe, then this announcement demands some extra analysis. If for not other reason than the cast of The Flash is starting to seem very, very crowded.
Our speculation that a Firestorm spinoff series could be up next began for a few reasons. First, given the success with which Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) was introduced and launched using Arrow, it was all but expected that The CW would use the same strategy going forward; and explaining that the producers had "designed the pilot and series to include Ronnie" showed they could be doing just that. With the first few villains set to appear on The Flash pulled from the pages of "Firestorm" - not "The Flash" - the evidence seemed to be growing.
Of course, there was always the chance that Firestorm's role would be a brief one - dispatched in one way or another once his arc was finished. But if that were the case, then casting an actor of Victor Garber's talent wouldn't necessarily be as high a priority.
Now, it may be just as likely that the producers have set their sights on Garber, whose roles have ranged from Titanic to Argo, specifically to make the character's short time in the story count. But with the actor currently appearing in a number of guest spots or recurring roles in Power, Sleepy Hollow, and The Good Wife, and given his recognition within the Comic-Con crowd, a larger role in The CW's TV universe would be embraced by the network and fans alike. That applies to Amell as well, having previously led the network's cancelled Tomorrow People.
That's pure speculation on our part, and as we said, it's just as likely that fans simply have another strong Flash cast member to look forward to seeing join the group. But if The CW is already discussing their next DC spinoff, it certainly looks like the pieces are falling into place to make Firestorm a top contender.
What do you think of the casting? Will you be content to see both halves of Firestorm join The Flash for a brief time? Or do you see an Amell-Garber duo as a potential hit for the network? Sound off in the comments, and stay tuned for more updates as they arrive.
The Flash airs Tuesdays @8pm on The CW.
Follow me on Twitter @andrew_dyce for updates on The Flash as well as movie, TV, and gaming news.