Arrowverse fans have taken to social media to voice their displeasure at The Flash’s handling of the villainous speedster, Red Death.
Following Javicia Leslie’s surprise arrival as the Red Death at the end of The Flash Season 9, Episode 3, “Rogues of War,” fans were immediately taken aback to learn that the person under the mask was not Bruce Wayne who is the Red Death of Earth -52 in DC Comics. Leslie’s return as the Red Death in the following episode, “The Mask of the Red Death, Part 1,” was also criticized heavily by fans, with many questioning why The Flash writers were basing the character off of past incarnations of Bruce Wayne/Batman instead of Leslie’s portrayal as Ryan Wilder/Batwoman from the Arrowverse series Batwoman. While many viewed the genderswapped version of Red Death as unnecessary, others seemingly found it funny that fans would assume The Flash would be allowed to use the Bruce Wayne version of the Red Death when the Arrowverse has rarely been granted permission to use the iconic DC billionaire or his alter ego in any form.
The Red Death was created by writer Scott Snyder and artist Greg Capullo and debuted in DC Comics’ Dark Days: The Casting #1 (2017) as the Bruce Wayne/Batman of Earth -52. However, in The Flash Season 9, the Red Death is Ryan Wayne (Leslie), who comes from an alternate timeline where she and Grant Gustin’s The Flash are enemies. Leslie’s involvement in The Flash’s final season was first confirmed in November 2022.While her specific role in The Flash Season 9 was kept mostly secret, set photos did eventually reveal that she would be playing the Red Death as well as reprising her role as the Arrowverse’s Batwoman. Leslie will be back as the Red Death in the Mar. 8 episode, “The Mask of the Red Death, Part 2.”
More Speedsters Are on the Way
Red Death will not be the only villainous speedster making their way onto The Flash before the long-running Arrowverse series concludes its final season. Set photos and CW casting announcements have confirmed the return of multiple speedster villains, including Eobard Thawne/Reverse-Flash (Matt Letscher and Tom Cavanagh), Hunter Zolomon/Zoom (Teddy Sears), Savitar (Gustin) and Godspeed. Rick Cosnett will also make his debut as Cobalt Blue during Season 9.
However, there won’t be just villainous speedsters returning for The Flash’s final run. Jessica Parker Kennedy, Keiynan Lonsdale and John Wesley Shipp have all been announced to return as their respective Flash Family speedsters for one last time. Lonsdale will appear as Wally West/Kid Flash in the upcoming Episode 9, which will also feature the highly anticipated return of Stephen Amell as Oliver Queen/Green Arrow. It is unknown when Kennedy and Shipp will reprise their roles as Nora West-Allen/XS and Jay Garrick/The Flash at this time.