The Flash premiered with its fourth season on The CW this month and with it, we saw something which was nothing short of revolutionary in terms of WoC representation goes.
The character of Iris West (played by Candice Patton) has been the female protagonist of the series since the first season itself but us fans of the show have never been satisfied with the way the writers have treated her character since the very beginning.
Up until now, Iris was reduced to being nothing but Barry’s love interest or friend. With a few good episodes across three seasons, where we saw Iris be the badass reporter she is, we barely got a taste of the Iris West we’ve grown to love in the DC Comics.
So it was especially disappointing to see such a strong female character with so much potential – being played by a woman of color – not being done justice to.
The fourth season premiere seems to have changed the game in that respect – at least for me, personally. I absolutely loved the way Iris is shown to have taken charge of the situation in Central City, now that her fiance, The Flash aka Barry Allen has gone into the speed force to prevent an impending apocalypse (as seen in season three).
Iris is reeling from the sudden and uncertain loss of the love of her life, but not for one second does that weaken her – it only seems to strengthen her.
Cisco Ramon, Wally West, and Joe West are all also dealing with the loss while trying to protect Central City, but what stood out for me was Iris’ strength of character, for the first time, I could see the braveheart she really is. Despite everything she’s been through, she’s solid and untethered.
And she refuses to give in to her weaknesses.
This serves as such an important lesson in today’s times when we’re all dealing with so much loss, and we’re all living in such trying times full of tragedy and tension – we need more such female role models which go beyond the stereotypical notion of “being a hero”.
Iris West does not have any superpowers, yet her resilience is outstanding. She’s probably stronger than any superhuman on the show – and that’s what makes her my hero.
Despite living in a so-called modern society, female representation, especially women of color are very poorly represented in tv shows and movies. To have a character like Iris is both refreshing and motivating – it gives me hope for a better tomorrow.
Also important to note is that her character is not shown to be made of steel and lacking vulnerability. We see her expressing her fears and apprehensions too. That’s what I like about her – she isn’t afraid of being who she is – even if it might come across as weak, at times.
She’s willing to be real at a time when nobody else is.
She’s been the voice of reason from the very beginning, even if it wasn’t as evident before as it is now – she truly shines as a strong female lead in season four and it looks to be very promising.
What I, especially love about Iris is the confidence with which she expresses herself and her feelings. It’s inspiring for me, and I’m sure countless other young women like me. She isn’t afraid to be herself and that’s what makes her so genuine.
When she expresses how she truly felt about Barry leaving her in Central City to fend for herself is the time I realized that her humanity is her biggest superpower.
Despite its flaws, I have a lot of expectations from The Flash this season because they’ve gotten my hopes up with the way Iris has come across in the first episode itself.
There’s still a lot of scope in terms of really showing Iris work to her full potential as a reporter (as she does in the comics), so I’m sincerely hoping they don’t diminish her character as we go along. She is truly an asset, not just to the show in general, but Central City in particular and Iris West is truly the hero we need, at the moment.