When Arrow premiered, its’ pilot presented a vigilante hero (Oliver Queen) along with his family (mother, step-father, sister, beloved family maid), friend (Tommy), bodyguard (Diggle), ex-girlfriend (Laurel), and the ex-girlfriend’s seriously bitter father (Detective Lance). Plus, Detective Lance had a partner (Detective Hilton), Laurel had a friendly co-worker (Joanna), and Oliver had a corrupt businessman (Adam Hunt) to thwart. As far as pilots go, it was was darn near perfect, and outside of the family maid all of the introduced characters became regular or recurring players on the show, except for Hunt who only returned for 1 episode. Many of the roles were based in comic book lore, albeit very loosely (e.g., Laurel being a lawyer), while others were completely unique to the show (e.g., Diggle). Future regular players like Felicity Smoak, Roy Harper, and Slade Wilson wouldn’t come until much later.
With Arrow’s spin-off centered around Grant Gustin’s Barry “The Flash” Allen, we know the pilot will introduce our newly super fast Allen, his surrogate father (Detective West), his love interest/best friend (Iris West), a potential best bud (Cisco Ramon), a professional rival (Detective Thawne), a disgraced boss (Harrison Wells), a potential villain (Caitlin Snow), and a complete mystery role. That’s as of right now, 48 hours after Tom Cavanagh and John Wesley Shipp were added to the cast. There are likely further roles coming, but for now here’s a list of known cast members/characters set to appear in the pilot for The Flash:
Role: Harrison Wells / Actor: Tom Cavanagh (Ed, Eli Stone, Scrubs, Royal Pains)
There is no guaranteed comic book precedent for this role, although many have pointed out “Harrison Wells” looks a tad similar to “Garrison Slate,” the known S.T.A.R. Labs founder in the comics.
What we know for sure about Cavanagh’s role is that he will be a (via ScreenCrush) “rock star in the world of physics” and the driving force behind Central City’s S.T.A.R. Labs particle accelerator. The lab’s explosion made Wells into a pariah, but the unintended creation of the world’s fastest man gives Wells inspiration to chart a path to redemption. I personally love the casting entirely because I have a nostalgic fondness for Cavanagh’s work playing a bowling alley lawyer on Ed.
Role: “Mystery Role” / Actor: John Wesley Shipp (The Flash, Dawson’s Creek, Batman: The Brave & The Bold)
Your first thought, if you know your Flash history, might be that they’ve simply given Shipp a cameo role in the pilot as a fan nod and thank you for his time playing Barry Allen for one season on Fox’s The Flash.
Actually, Shipp has been cast in a mystery role about which little is known other than he will appear in the pilot and transition into a recurring character should the show get picked up to series. This has led many to guess Shipp will play a version of Jay Garrick, the original Flash in the comics, or maybe even a future version of Barry Allen considering how heavily time travel factors into Flash comic book mythology. However, it’s also possible they’ve simply cast him to play Barry Allen’s wrongfully imprisoned father. DC has a precedent for that kind of thing considering their tradition of having actresses who portrayed Lois Lane return in later projects to play Lois’ mother (Noel Neill, Phyllis Coates, and Teri Hatcher all did it).
ONES WE ALREADY KNEW ABOUT
Role: Barry Allen / Actor: Grant Gustin (Arrow, Glee)
Things didn’t look so good the last time we saw him:
Should The Flash not make it to series past pilot Arrow‘s producers have indicated they will do everything they can to keep Grant Gustin around as Barry Allen, most likely making him a recurring character on Arrow.
Role: Iris West / Actress: Candice Patton (The Game, Entourage, Sorority Forever)
In the comics, Iris West is Barry Allen’s longtime love interest/eventual wife who works as a news reporter. She’s also historically depicted as being Caucasian.
In the Flash pilot, West will first of all clearly not be Caucasian. Secondly, a prior casting call indicated this Iris may not become a news reporter (just as Arrow‘s Laurel will probably never become a florist, defying comic book continuity). Plus, her relationship with Barry will go back much further than usual: “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.”
Role: Detective West / Actor: Jesse L. Martin (Rent, Law & Order, Smash)
Think of a gentler, more supportive version of Paul Blackthorne’s Detective Lance from Arrow. Casting calls described the character as follows: “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.”
Role: Cisco Ramon, aka, Vibe / Actor: Carlos Valdes (Broadway’s Jersey Boys)
In the comics, Ramon is a latino gang member who becomes a superhero after gaining the superhuman ability to cause sonic shockwaves and detect interdimensional shifts. As a legit Justice League member super hero, he went by the name Vibe. However, he was criticized as being an offensive ethnic stereotype at the time of his mid-1980s introduction, and DC’s monthly solo Vibe comic book as part of the New 52 was canceled after just 10 issues.
In the pilot, Ramon will be a civil engineer buddy of Allen’s, and he will not have gained any powers yet. He is intended to be a series regular.
Role: Detective Eddie Thawne, aka Professor Zoom / Actor: Rick Cosnett (Vampire Diaries)
In the comics, Thawne is basically the world’s worst superfan. He’s from the 25th century where he idolizes the legacy of Barry “The Flash” Allen so much so that he sets about gaining all of the same powers as The Flash, even altering his appearance to look like Barry Allen. He travels back in time to meet Allen only to show up years after Allen’s death, which ultimately drives Thawne insane.
In the Flash pilot, Thawne will be a popular Detective in the Central City Police Department with a mysterious past and apparent propensity for taking credit for Barry/The Flash’s work.
Role: Caitlin Snow, aka Killer Frost / Actress: Danielle Panabaker (Friday the 13th)
In the comics, Snow is the fourth woman to take the title of Killer Frost, each one of them acting as supervillains against the superhero Firestorm.
In the Flash pilot, Snow will be (via Deadline) “a highly intelligent bioengineering expert who lost her fiancé during an explosion at S.T.A.R. Labs,” mostly likely the same explosion that cascaded throughout Central City and did this to Barry Allen.
The Flash is being co-created and produced by Arrow writer/DC Chief Creative Office Geoff Johns and Arrow co-creators/executive producers Greg Berlanti and Andrew Kreisberg. Prior reports indicate the pilot could be begin filming in March at which point it will be directed by David Nutter, who also directed the Arrow pilot.