Despite the efforts of various writers to present Iris West-Allen as a strong, independent woman, she has no story purpose beyond inspiring The Flash.
Warning! SPOILERS for The Flash season 8.
The writers of The Flash show have failed to develop Iris West-Allen into a compelling character, due to Barry Allen’s overprotective nature. For all the importance that has been placed on Iris as a character by the series’ writers, she remains nothing more than a damsel in distress after eight seasons. While the show has devoted several storylines to Iris’ work as a reporter, all of them were resolved through The Flash’s involvement and Iris remains trapped in the role of Barry’s “lightning rod“as a result.
In the classic The Flash comics, Iris West was a carbon copy version of fellow reporter Lois Lane, whose only purpose was being placed in danger so that Barry Allen had someone to rescue when she was not complaining him about always being late. The Arrowverse updated this by making Iris into a blogger who began investigating the reports of people with superpowers that the traditional media ignored. This gave her a more grounded personality than the stereotypical nagging girlfriend she was written as in the comics, but it gave her little room for development after she and Barry became a romantic couple. Many feel The Flash began going downhill when Iris began to present herself as an extension of Barry, famously declaring, “We are the Flash,“In The Flash season 4 finale. Later seasons tried to make Iris into a more active character with more Flash storylines focused on Iris’ work as a reporter and her employees at Team Citizen, but the results were mixed at best.
The resolution of Iris’ storyline and the mysterious time sickness she battled in The Flash season 8 is typical of how badly the character has been mistreated. Iris was seemingly killed in the first part of “Negative,” thanks to the machinations of the Negative Force Hosts. “Negative Part 2” found Iris waking up inside the extradimensional space contained within the Time Stone Damien Darhk had given her father during the Armageddon event that opened. The Flash season 8. After getting a pep talk from a copy of Darhk’s personality that had become imprinted on the stone, Iris was able to will herself back into the real world, just in time to find Barry and show him that she was still alive, before he betrayed everything he stood for by killing his archenemy, the Reverse-Flash.
This resolution is problematic on multiple levels, even ignoring how cheap the deus ex machina employed to resurrect Iris is. Rather than drawing inspiration from her father, her friends, or her love for her husband, Iris West-Allen is spurred into action by Damien Darhk (of all people), giving her a speech about how she has continued to come back after having “faced certain death over and over and over again“Because she is a survivor. The fact that Iris only survived such perils as Savitar murdering her and imprisonment in the Mirrorverse thanks to the actions of other characters is completely ignored in the writers’ efforts to build up Iris as a strong woman.
“Negative, Part 2” also undercut Iris’ status as an independent character by making Barry responsible for the resolution of The Flash season 8 subplot involving teen runaway Tinya Wazoo. The search for the elusive Phantom Girl of Coast City and subsequent effort to help her find her missing mother was the only storyline Iris had in The Flash season 8 that wasn’t connected to Barry’s life as The Flash. However, it was ultimately Barry who found Tinya’s mother after she became lost in the Still Force and reunited the two in The Flash season 8 finale. Perhaps Iris will be given a chance to stand on her own apart from her husband in The Flash season 9, but it does not seem likely.
More: Everything We Know About The Flash Season 9
The Flash season 8 will come to Netflix on July 7, 2022.
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