In the only casting choice that makes sense in the African-American family of Joe and Iris West from TV’s The Flash, Divergent star Keiyan Lonsdale has been cast as Wally West aka Kid Flash!
NOC readers and really, anyone with access to Twitter knows what happened next. The typical outrage at a once white (in these cases — superhero) character being cast as black has begun. (See: Iris/Joe West, Jimmy Olsen, Johnny Storm, Hawkgirl, Nick Fury, Heimdall, I’m tired now. You name the rest.)
Yes, Wally used to be white. In fact he used to be white and red-headed. We’ve written about the very interesting trend of changing a prominent number of red-headed characters into black characters before. But in this example, Wally’s black casting is primarily about plain old consistency. You can’t get mad at racebending a character who is related to already racebent characters. While I’ll never understand the outrage over racebending and allowing more diversity in beloved stories and universes (especially when there is silence from comic/book/original “purists” when a character of color is whitewashed), the outrage here is redundant. You just got mad twice for no reason.
Not only is Wally black in the current New 52 comics, this isn’t the first time a character on a Greg Berlanti universe show was racebent (see the above list that includes The Wests, Jimmy Olsen, and Hawkgirl, spanning three TV shows), so you’d think people would be used to it by now1.
Thankfully, I follow the right people on twitter and social media.
Our resident Flash recapper, Christelle said:
“I’m freaking the heck out. He’s swirly and fine.”
Black Girl Nerds boosted the #LeaveWallyAlone hashtag to help fend off the racist trolls who wanted to come for the character.
(I would also like to add: leave Keiynan alone. Though I’m sure he’s already received a barrage of hateful tweets. Be sure to show him your support.)
Lonsdale seems sweet and excited for his upcoming role.
And all the producers seem excited for what he’ll add to the show.
“Just like when we met [series lead] Grant [Gustin] for the first time, we instantly knew Keiynan embodied all the heart and courage of a hero,” “The Flash” executive producer Andrew Kreisberg said in a statement. — [CBR]
I’m excited for him to join Central City. Now the next questions: how will he be introduced? Seeing as how Iris doesn’t have any siblings that we know of (ruling out the nephew angle), how will he be related to her? Disappeared sibling that even Joe didn’t know about? Maybe a Buffy/Dawn situation where the events of the finale introduces a relative that was “always there?” Cousin? Uncle from the past? Son from the future? Will it be a Trunks from Dragon Ball Z storyline where he comes to the past — fighting side-by-side with his parents/relatives — to save/correct/alter his future (possibly doing for himself what Barry couldn’t do in the finale)? (See also Chibi-Usa from Sailor Moon.) There are so many possibilities, which makes me even more excited for this storyline.
Congrats Keiynan. No matter how many trolls are upset, you’ve got a whole community of nerds of color excited and rooting for you.
What are your Wally West introduction theories?