Tonight on The Flash, Iris finally got her superpowered moment.
When a new meta arrived with the ability to steal powers and transfer them into someone else, it didn't take long before Barry's speedster powers were inadvertently given to Iris. Barry became a normal dude, and Iris became a purple-streaked speedster who battled fires and saved lives.
Her big speedster moment came when she created a tidal wave by running on water to put out an extremely hot fire (a feat Barry has never achieved before), but the episode was less about Iris having powers and more about Iris reestablishing who she is, what she cares about, and what she brings to the table for Team Flash.
"I think this episode clearly shows that having Barry's powers for an episode really made [Iris] realize what she's passionate about," Candice Patton told reporters after a screening of the episode. "She understands that Barry having speed is what gets him up in the morning…and I think it reignited for her that she still has to find that, and that journalism is a thing she has kind of put to the side to take up the mantle at STAR labs, but it's still a part of her and it's still the reason that she wakes up."
At the end of the episode, Iris was quick to get Barry's powers back to him, with no real intention of possibly keeping them. Instead, she went back to writing about the Flash, bringing back that journalist side we've all been missing. Executive producer Todd Helbing calls her return to her calling a "reawakening," and said this episode felt like the most organic time to return to Iris doing what she loves.
"It was really like once Barry went into the speedforce, you—Iris—made that decision to become team leader and it just felt like the best time to sort of get you sort of moving back down that track."
"Yeah, and also you've still got that article in 2024 we've gotta deal with," Patton added, referring to the article that Iris eventually writes titled "Flash Missing, Vanishes in Crisis."
Patton says that while Iris with superpowers has always been a dream, Iris keeping those powers was not.
"I always thought it would be cool just for fans and just for the show to see her suit up for an episode. I never wanted it to be a thing where Iris became a superhero on The Flash, because a) we've got enough superheroes, and b) that's just not who Iris is," she says. "I think the most important thing about Iris is she's a hero in her own right without any superpowers. She uses her heart and her intellect and her street smarts to help the team."
In that way, Patton says Iris serves as an inspiration to the audience.
"It appeals to the audience that we ourselves, as human beings every day, we can be heroes in our own lives," she said. "We don't need superpowers, we don't need to be struck by lightning tomorrow to do something important, so I think Iris kind of illuminates that on the show."
Read on for a few tidbits from Patton and Helbing after tonight's episode!
Learning to Run: Patton says that for the character, having those speed powers was really cool. For her, not so much.
"I mean, there is no school for acting in front of a green screen, not that I'm aware of" she said. "I think I've watched Grant [Gustin] do it for three years and just been like, cool for you bro. That's something I'll never have to do."
Patton said she only learned about the episode right before it was shot, giving her little time to prepare.
"Just learning to run in front of a green screen…it's like your arms are moving, your legs are not," she explained, saying that Gustin gave her tips like "don't stand up straight and do it, because you're going to look ridiculous." "It was great. I'm so grateful that I got to do that. I don't know that I'd want to do it everyday…"
Suiting Up: Patton also wasn't a huge fan of the all-important mask meant to keep her identity somewhat of a secret. Apparently it was such a struggle to find one that fit her face that when asked about it, Patton's reaction was something like "Unghhhhh." She compared herself to a minion at one point during the try-on phase.
Patton was a fan of what she calls the "David Bowie shoes," but as for the jacket and that purple streak, Helbing says that's a mystery he wants to keep for now.
"There's a specific reason we designed the costume the way we did," he said, adding later that "There's a specific reason for the jacket. That's kinda all I'll give you guys…You'll find out soon."
Girl Power: The significance of Iris' moment coming at this time—along with many moments of support and encouragement from Caitlin—was not lost on Patton.
"I understand the importance of it, a) being a woman, b) being a black woman. The times that we're living in, it's so important for young girls of color, young girls of any color to see diverse women as the heroes of their own story. So it's been a long time coming, and we've seen that in little ways with Iris and Caitlin and the other female characters on this show kind of saving the day without any powers, but there is something cool about going to the movies and seeing a strong badass female superhero. It gives young girls something to aspire to."
Patton says that after she saw Wonder Woman with Legends star Caity Lotz, she walked out like "this is what white men must feel like every day!"
"It's important for young women to walk out of the movie theater and walk out of watching these TV shows and just feel strong and empowered. So in a small way, I hope this episode—as small as it is, it's a one-off—I hope it does that for someone watching."
Mama and Papa West? Patton says the next item on her character bucket list (after gaining superpowers) was to have a kid.
"I think the next step, I guess, would be eventually to see Barry and Iris have a kid. I don't know when that could possibly happen with what they're trying to do…"
Helbing offered no comment on this, so no word on if there will be any kids any time soon. He played equally coy on the identity of "mystery girl" played by Jessica Parker Kennedy.
Evil Harry? Helbing was also very quiet when asked if Harry's "thinking cap" might have some adverse effects and turn him evil, a la Devoe. "No comment," he said after a long silence.
The Flash airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on the CW.