As part of The CW portion of the TCA Press Tour, there was a compelling panel entitled “Running the Show: The Women Executive Producers of The CW,” with Arrow, The Flash, The Vampire Diaries, iZombie, Jane the Virgin, Reign and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend all represented. After the panel, Collider got the opportunity to sit down with The Flash EP Gabrielle Stanton to chat about what’s to come in Season 2 of the hugely popular series.
During this exclusive interview, Stanton talked about female representation on The Flash, collaborating with the teams at Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow on character cross-overs, where Barry Allen’s (Grant Gustin) head is at in Season 2, the Speed Force, the introduction of Jay Garrick (Teddy Sears), Joe West (Jesse L. Martin) and the new meta-human task force, Iris’ (Candice Patton) journey, adding Wally West (Keiynan Lonsdale), when we might see Killer Frost again, and how Cisco (Carlos Valdes) is coping.
Collider: Since we’re celebrating the voice of female executive producers on The CW at the TCA, how do you feel about the female representation and viewpoint on The Flash?
GABRIELLE STANTON: This show actually has great female characters. You have Iris, who is now a reporter. You have Caitlin, who’s a scientist. It’s really cool that when Andrew [Kreisberg] and Greg [Berlanti] started The Flash, they just immediately put in these kick-ass equal characters. There wasn’t any question of, “Oh, what are we going to do with them?” They were there, and they were part of the show and part of the team. And they’re very different. We want make Iris and Caitlin friends this season because I feel like they would be friends, in real life.
This world keeps getting bigger, with Arrow, The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow. How do you decide where a character starts and who gets to pick the version of the character that we see?
STANTON: Oh, there are fights! It’s just what works for us, story wise, and what works for what we’re doing with Barry and the team, at the time. Sometimes Arrow will start things, or we’ll start things, and we’ll cross them over. We had Captain Cold and Heat Wave last season, and they were so popular that we have Legends. We juggle, but it’s fun. We have so many different worlds to play in that we can say, “Hey, can we borrow Felicity this week?” It’s neat to be able to do. It’s hard because of the scheduling and production. All the line producers go crazy when we talk about doing it. Fortunately Arrow and The Flash shoot right next door to each other, up in Vancouver. We can be like, “Just go across the hall.”
Where is Barry Allen’s head at, after everything he went through last season?
STANTON: He went through a lot, at the end of last season. He’s definitely going to start this season with a step back and be like, “What am I doing? Why am I doing this?” If last season was the journey of Barry discovering he’s a hero, this season is definitely him trying to figure out what that means. What is it to be a hero? What does he need to be a hero? What is it going to do to his personal relationships? It’s an evolution that’s going to start in the beginning of the season, and go all season long. You’re going to see, early on, Barry coming into his own as The Flash, a little bit more. He has to make some terrible decisions, and he’s going to struggle with those. He’s going to think about, can I live with myself, having to make those decisions, and still do what I do? That’s something he’s going to be struggling with, for the first half of the season. Some of it is learning how to be okay with his past decisions, some of it is learning how to make better decisions, in the future, and some of it is about how he can let people help him make decisions.
Is there anyone he can confide in about what he saw in the Speed Force, or will he keep that to himself?
STANTON: He still has Joe, he still has his dad, and we’re introducing Jay Garrick, who will be a mentory character to Barry. Jay has seen some things that Barry hasn’t seen, and he’s going to be helping him through the process.
How will the mentor relationship between Jay Garrick and Barry Allen compare to what he had with Harrison Wells?
STANTON: Reverse Flash was always trying to get Barry to run faster. He seemed like he was really helping him, but really, he was doing it for his own evil purposes. Hopefully, it’s going to be a little bit different now that Barry is exploring the use of his powers without the man who killed his mother sitting on his shoulder.
Is it harder for Barry to trust people now?
STANTON: I think he’s a little more careful to trust everyone because of what happened, as anyone would be. But, he’s still Barry. He still has that fantastic, optimistic energy. He’s still willing to say, “Okay, let me see what you’re going to do, and then I’ll decide.”
How is Joe West doing now, after facing meta-humans and an enormous gorilla?
STANTON: I know! Poor Joe. He’s our everyman. Imagine if you or I had to walk into the lab and they’re like, “Oh, Joe, by the way, there are all these meta-humans and a giant gorilla.” At the end of last season, with that singularity in the sky, Central City obviously knows there’s stuff going on. So, when we open up the season, The Flash and meta-humans, and the idea that there’s other stuff out there, is going to be a lot more in the zeitgeist. Joe is going to be working on the meta-human task force at the police station, so when a call comes in, if it’s a bank robber with wings and horns and he’s shooting fire, than they’ll probably send Joe.
How is Iris dealing with everything she went through, with the absence of Eddie and her feelings for Barry? Is she going to have to deal with all of that?
STANTON: She’s going to come into her own a little bit, this year. All this stuff has happened and she’s gotta figure out what she’s gonna do about it. Hers is going to be a journey of, “I’m going to become the woman I want to be. I’m not going to be as reactive as maybe I was, in the past.” She’s definitely going to be more of a part of Team Flash because she knows all the secrets now and we don’t have to be hiding things from her. We’re going to see more of her, as a journalist who’s generating stories. Maybe Team Flash needs her help one week, and then she goes to them and says, “I need you.” We’re going to see a lot more of the world outside of STAR Labs, and Barry and Iris interacting in it.
Were you personally rooting for Iris to be in on Barry’s secret?
STANTON: It was so hard! Everyone was so mad that Iris didn’t know, but I watched Lois & Clark, and she didn’t know for like ten years. It took forever. It was important for Barry to keep the secret from her, as long as he did. To defend Joe and Barry, they had really good reasons. Was I really happy when he finally told her? Yes, but more as a writer and storyteller because I now get to bring Iris into those stories more.
You’re adding Wally West this season, who is a very beloved character. Did you know that there would be such interest in him?
STANTON: I knew people were going to be excited about Wally West, but I didn’t know they were going to be this excited about Wally West, which is a bummer because I can tell you nothing about Wally West. I can say that he’s going to be on [the show] and it’s going to be really exciting. The fans will definitely like what we’re doing with him.
How did you decide which version of Wally West that we get to see?
STANTON: We want to stay respectful and totally satisfy what the fans want out of this. But on the other hand, we also need to change the character, twist things and put our own spin on it, so that it’s not exactly what everyone expects. Otherwise, you’re like, “We’re introducing Wally West,” and someone looks it up on Wikipedia and knows the story, so they don’t watch. So, it will definitely be our twist on the Wally West character.
We got to see a glimpse of Killer Frost in the Speed Force. Will we have to wait awhile to see that again?
STANTON: It’s going to be a slower burn on that. That was just to keep people guessing. Who knows when Killer Frost is going to turn up? We did the helmet. We try to drop little Easter eggs. What I really like about The Flash is that I am a comic book fan, so I know a lot of this stuff, but my husband is not a comic book fan at all, and he still gets everything.
What is Cisco’s journey, this season?
STANTON: Wells was like a father to him and it was pretty devastating, losing him, and it was pretty devastating when he tried to kill him. So, he’s definitely going on a journey, this season. The second season of a show is always great because you’ve built up your main character, explored a little bit of him and sent him on his journey, and then you can fill in some of the other characters and get a deeper look into their psyches. We’re definitely going to be doing that, this year.
Will he get a love interest?
STANTON: He just may get one. That’s all I’m going to say. It’s possible. Even Golden Glider likes him.
The Flash returns for Season 2 to The CW on October 6th.