The Flash Showrunner Teases the Identity of Season 9's First Big Bad

The Flash kicked off its ninth and final season last week on The CW and the season premiere gave fans a major tease about the first serious threat Team Flash will face in the long-running Arrowverse series’ final run. While we didn’t actually really see the character in full just yet, their logo flashed on the screen right at the end — the sinister red Bat symbol belonging to Red Death. While the villain’s arrival is something that the show had teased for some time and fans have already gotten a pretty strong idea of who’s behind that symbol, series showrunner Eric Wallace recently made it clear in an interview with Entertainment Weekly that Batwoman star Javicia Leslie definitely has something to do with it.

As fans know, Leslie was announced as being cast as part of The Flash’s ninth season though her specific role was kept largely secret. Thanks to various set photos fans had mostly determined for themselves that Leslie was probably playing Red Death, but Wallace’s comments elaborate on the situation.

“It is fair to say that Javicia has something to do with that red lightning bolt,” Wallace said. “I don’t think that’s going to come as a surprise to anyone. The question is how does it happen and why is she here? And also, who exactly is she playing? That’s a mystery that doesn’t get talked about in her initial appearances on the show. Also, how will it affect her relationship with Iris?”

He continued, “One of the happy accidents that happened in Armageddon when we had Javicia over was the discovery of the incredible chemistry between Candice Patton and Javicia Leslie. After seeing that, I literally made a note, ‘We’ve got to do more of this. This is gold.’ When Javicia comes onto the show, one of the most powerful emotional moments is when her character finally interacts with Iris and it’s going to be in a way that folks are not expecting. And it may show you a side of Javicia Leslie that you haven’t seen before because she just knocks it out of the park with performance. It’s something that I think fans are going to just love.”

A relatively new addition to DC canon, Red Death made his debut in Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s Dark Days: The Casting #1 in 2017. A member of the Dark Knights — a group of alternate multiversal versions of Batman led by The Batman Who Laughs — Red Death was revealed to be a dark mashup of Batman and The Flash. In the alternate universe of Earth -52, Bruce Wayne was traumatized by the death of his various Robins, and decided to escalate his crimefighting by harnessing the Speed Force. Bruce then absorbed his version of The Flash’s powers by combining his Batmobile and the Cosmic Treadmill and decided to suit up as the Red Death.

Red Death was previously name-dropped in a future-set Season 5 episode of The Flash, which made some wonder if and how the character could factor into the Arrowverse. A line in 2021’s “Armageddon” crossover, in which Ryan Wilder referenced fighting “the lady in red,” further stoked those theories.

“There’s small Easter eggs, there’s big Easter eggs. When we were in season three, Savitar was talking about DeVoe being one of his biggest foes,” former The Flash showrunner Todd Helbing previously told “We like to leave it up to the fans to try to figure out which it’s going to be. Who’s maybe a big bad the next season, who’s just a name drop. Godspeed sort of fell into the best of both worlds. We can have an episode with him, introduce him and then bring him back at some point in the future because he’s a major comics villain so we would never want to do a guy like that in just one episode.”

“Here’s the fun part. We have been teasing the Red Death since season six. You can go back, because I’ve always had a plan to bring the Red Death on the show. You can go back to episode 607, right? ‘The Last Temptation of Barry Allen, Part One’, and in the middle of Bloodwork’s tempting of Barry in a dream, there’s a moment where they go into this dream sequence all red, no coincidence, and Reverse Flash, Tom Cavanagh, shows up and says, ‘She’s on the loose. She’s destroyed everything.’ That’s where this all started. We’re just paying it off,” Wallace said.

He continued, “So, when you see the Red Death, it’s the culmination of a geeky dream that, quite frankly, I’ve had for three years. I’m so glad we got an opportunity to do it. Also, you don’t have to wait until the end of the season to see the suit and to see the Red Death come to life. It’s going to happen very early in Season 9, very quickly. We’re not going to make people wait. We’re getting right to it. And boy, does all heck break loose when we find out why the Red Death is here and why she hates Barry Allen. Because remember, the villain never thinks they’re a villain. So conversely, they think the hero is not a hero.”

The Flash airs Wednesdays at 8/7c on The CW.


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