Tuesday’s episode of The CW’s “The Flash” introduces the audience to Jefferson Jackson, the new other half of the two-person superhero Firestorm — and he could not be more different than Robbie Amell‘s Ronnie Raymond, whom he replaces.
“We decided to use this as an opportunity to introduce a different kind of Firestorm,” showrunner Andrew Kreisberg told reporters at a press event for the episode “Fury of Firestorm.” That starts with the casting of Franz Drameh, the black British actor probably best known for the 2011 British alien-invasion movie “Attack the Block.”
“We love Franz,” Kreisberg said of the actor, who will move on to star on the spinoff “Legends of Tomorrow” along with Victor Garber, who plays Firestorm’s other half. “He’s so good. It’s just a difference face, it’s a freshness, an excitement.”
Drameh, who speaks in an American accent in the role, represents a step forward in diversity. “We’re all so proud to have another African-American superhero with superpowers,” Kreisberg said. “For a whole generation of kids who are growing up, and this show is their entry to the superhero world, for them Firestorm will always be African-American.”
On Season 1 of “The Flash,” the Firestorm duo consisted of Martin Stein (Garber) and Ronnie Raymond (Amell), but Ronnie was obliterated when they flew into the singularity to close the gap between worlds in the season finale. Now, Stein needs a replacement “other half,” fast.
“What worked really well in the comic books was the fact that they were so different. Ronnie was like a dumb jock, and the character we created for our Ronnie was obviously an engineer — he had a girlfriend, he was an adult,” Kreisberg said. “So the idea that the second Firestorm was someone in his early 20s, radically different from this Firestorm… There’s a lot more room for comedy with this character than we previously had.”
The episode also focuses on Ronnie’s widow, Dr. Caitlin Snow (Danielle Panabaker), as she processes having to help find a replacement for her dead husband.
“That’s what’s most difficult for Caitlin, and ultimately cathartic, about this experience,” Panabaker said. “She’s so connected to Stein, and cares so deeply for him and about him. He is this sort of last connection to Ronnie, so she’s particularly invested in taking care of him and getting it right. Not messing it up and making sure his next partner is just as good, if not better, than Ronnie was.”
“The Flash” airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET on The CW.