The CW has yet to officially launch The Flash, but the network is clearly confident that the Arrow spin-off is poised to become another hit. The early reactions to the pilot episode have all been strong, and today the network announced that yet another comic book superhero will be joining the cast. Robbie Amell (The Tomorrow People) will be playing 'Firestorm' beginning with the show's third episode.
It's not the first time that Amell has worked alongside The CW or executive producer Greg Berlanti, having anchored the short-lived series The Tomorrow People, a pseudo-superhero drama following 'the next evolution' of mankind. Now Variety reports that Amell (cousin to Arrow star Stephen Amell) has gotten another chance, being hand-picked by the showrunners to bring Ronnie Raymond to life.
While this news comes hot on the heels of the addition of Ray Palmer a.k.a. The Atom to Arrow's Season 3, Berlanti explains that the writers of The Flash envisioned a role for 'Firestorm: The Nuclear Man' from the very beginning:
"Geoff Johns, Andrew Kreisberg and myself designed the pilot and series to include Ronnie (aka Firestorm) — and to actually have someone with Robbie’s talent playing the role is beyond exciting. We can’t wait for viewers and fans of the character to check it out."
In the comics, Ronnie Raymond was a typical teen who - in the kind of nuclear catastrophe that comic books are known for - found himself fused with the consciousness of brilliant scientist Martin Stein. The result: Raymond could now control matter, adopting the name of 'Firestorm' and retaining Stein as voice in his head along for the ride. In the upcoming TV show, Raymond will be another victim of the particle accelerator disaster which gave Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) his powers.
In addition to proving that not all people blessed (or cursed) with powers throughout Central and Keystone City become villains, Raymond is also the fiancé of Caitlin Snow (Daniell Panabaker), one of Barry's new allies and a top scientist at STAR Labs. Since he was an employee at the lab and presumed dead after the explosion, his return in Episode 3 will make some waves; meaning Barry won't be the only person with relationship problems.
The CW has a track record of populating Arrow with as many comic book characters as possible, and the process has worked to their advantage. While Berlanti may have a challenge bringing a character like The Atom into Arrow's darker world, Firestorm seems a good fit for the lighter, more fantastic approach being taken with The Flash. Although the two series are set in the same universe, Raymond's battle to understand his powers is one that Barry Allen can relate to like few others.
It's still unclear just how large or recurring a role Amell's character will play (either a multi-episode arc as Raymond returns a changed man, or as a permanent ally for Allen), but a brief appearance is more than enough to please fans of the long-underrated superhero. Not to mention prove that the parade of comic book heroes and villains established with Arrow is to be expected with The Flash as well.
How do you "Firestorm" fans feel about the announcement? Is Amell the actor you think can do the role justice, or are you more interested to know what this casting means for the show's larger fiction?
The Flash premieres Tuesday, October 7th, 2014 @8PM on The CW.