It looks like The CW can breathe easy about their upcoming series The Flash, as the character's first introduction on last night's episode of Arrow drew plenty of viewers. More than any episode this season, in fact, with a reported audience of 3.165 million - a 22% jump from the previous episode.
With that kind of attention it seems that a Flash movie is a no-brainer, but for now, fans have the TV show starring Grant Gustin to look forward to. And the recently leaked character descriptions of his closest cast members show that the writers are making some serious changes to the source material.
Though his arrival on TV screens came as a bit of a surprise, momentum surrounding Gustin's 'Barry Allen' has been growing consistently. The showrunners of both Arrow and his standalone series felt Gustin was a perfect fit for the character - enough to cancel the plans for a backdoor pilot altogether, and commit to launching his own series on its own. With his debut, fans got to see what all the fuss was about.
Gustin proved that he has the charm to stand alongside Arrow's leading man Stephen Amell in The CW's budding DC universe, but he won't be able to carry the load himself when his series debuts. For that, showrunner Andrew Kreisberg looks to be turning to Barry Allen's longtime love, Iris West.
But if the character descriptions of Iris and her father (uncovered by Bludhaven Banter) are any indication, the show's writers are looking to make some changes:
IRIS - 22-28 - African-American - As smart as she is beautiful, Iris is in grad school studying psychology. She's also Barry's mile a minute, fast-talking, quick-witted best friend. Her father, Detective West, took in Barry when his mother was murdered, and his father was wrongly accused and imprisoned for her murder. In a tough childhood for Barry, she was the one "not tough" thing. She's unaware of Barry's strong feelings for her.
DETECTIVE WEST - Late 40s to Early 50s - African American - Detective West is an honest, blue-collar cop who's seen it all. A soulful, funny caring father to Iris, and a surrogate father to Barry, West came up through the foster system himself. He took in Barry after his mother's murder and his father's imprisonment. He believes in Barry and supports Barry's efforts to prove his father's innocence.
These descriptions are not yet official, but if they are, it looks like Kreisberg and The CW are looking to add a bit of diversity. Obviously the idea of changing the ethnicity of a comic book character is going to raise the same old arguments that we're not particularly interested in addressing (for those interest, we've already made our opinions clear). But it's the other changes to Iris West's character, and the introduction of Detective West that have our attention.
Normally portrayed as a reporter in Central City, Iris West will be re-imagined as not an admirer of Barry Allen's alter ego, but his childhood best friend. For the most part, the years of Barry Allen's life following the death of his mother and subsequent incarceration of his father are somewhat ambiguous in the comics. And rather than shying away from answering decades-old questions, Kreisberg's team is taking the opportunity to distinguish their character from those that came before.
By presenting Iris' dad as a caring, adoptive father-figure to Barry, fighting alongside him to prove Barry's father's innocence makes one thing clear: The Flash will likely not be as bleak as Arrow. At least, the pieces are in place to do something markedly different. With a more fantastical premise and a more lighthearted actor, The CW seems to be straying from the Christopher Nolan influence that shaped Arrow's first season - something that's probably for the best.
Not that it wasn't the proper approach for a character like Green Arrow (an admitted knockoff of Batman). But if Barry Allen was scarred by the loss of his parents or father figure, only to find romance with a somewhat public figure possessing, say, an overbearing father, the show would be sharing a lot in common with Arrow. And if DC and Warner Bros. seem to be planning for a big screen incarnation of The Flash as well, then we say the more - and more different - the merrier.
What do you think of the changes reportedly being made for The Flash's foray into television? Is it encouraging to see that Kreisberg's team is charting their own course, or worrying? Share your thoughts in the comments.
We'll keep you updated on The Flash as details arrive.
Follow Andrew on Twitter @andrew_dyce.