My idle mind is a funny place. It may look like I'm working or normal or even sane, but most of the time, I'm thinking about really weird things, like what my life would be like as a superhero. Though I would have to figure out ways to get rich before I'd forfeit my TGIT for saving lives, I often imagine how much easier my life would be if I could throw lightning or take a leisurely super-sonic jog to a gloriously Cheeto-free Earth (On Earth-2 Beyonce is a senator!) like The Flash's Barry Allen.
But Iris West, one of the only members of Team Flash who isn't a meta-human, is forever proving that black girls have a power all their own: black girl magic.
The core of The Flash's third season has centered on supervillain Savitar's prophecy that he would kill Barry's betrothed. Team Flash has been fighting to change that unimaginable future, and “The Once And Future Flash” offered even more motivation by revealing just how bleak a world without Iris West (Candice Patton) would be when Barry decided to travel 7 years into the future to retrieve vital information on Savitar.
This episode is a Dickensian glimpse into the future in which all of fractured Team Flash are Ghosts of Christmas' Scary Future, and each have suffered greatly after Iris’s death.
Caitlin-turned-Killer-Frost freeze-dried Cisco’s hands, rendering him powerless.
Wally West was left catatonic and wheelchair-bound after a violent and traumatic solo encounter with Savitar.
Joe West spent the majority of his time at Wally’s bedside (apparently not cutting his hair) and destroying all of our feels by leaving actual irises on Iris’s grave.
A thawed-out Killer Frost was revealed to be working with Savitar, thus contributing to Iris’ death.
And finally, Future Barry (Grant Gustin), decimated by guilt and grief over not being able to save the love of his life, dismantled Team Flash, closed to STAR Labs, and locked himself away in the time vault.
As emotionally brutal as this episode also sheds a brilliantly bright light Iris' position on Team Flash.
To be fair, superhero universes, even in modern times, haven’t been that just to the fairer sex, relegating them to damsels-in-distress, objectified sexual beings, clueless fangirls and not much more. And for every Superman or Batman, there is a diminished SuperGIRL and BatGIRL or Jessie QUICK. For the majority of The Flash's first season, Iris languished in this archaic trope too. Thankfully, she become an integral member of this crime-fighting crew in the years since learning Barry's true identity.
Her love has always given Barry strength to do the impossible, and something to run home to. In the face of her own demise, Iris didn’t fall into a depression, succumb to fear or retreat to a Fijian safehouse like I would have. Instead, she was determined to make the rest of her life mean something. Whether it was bravely facing danger to investigate a powerful and impactful story, helping the team of geniuses take down the meta-human-of-the-week, comforting her fiancé and father as they struggle with the prospect of her death and flawlessly assist in a surgery to save the lives of one of their own (even though she probably didn't deserve it).
Barry Allen might be fast. Caitlin may be cold. Cisco may be able to manipulate vibrational energies. But Iris West's superpower is her own black girl magic, and she didn't need a particle accelerator explosion or an cool origin story to access it.
Coined a few years ago by CaShawn Thompson, black girl magic is the power black women have to push forward and achieve facing overwhelming adversity. To believe in their own beauty and light when the world's ignorance can cruelly to smother it. Iris has turned the fortitude gained by being a cop's daughter, a motherless child, a black girl in a challenging climate into becoming the savior's savior and has managed to thrive in a realm populated by villains, superheroes and geniuses.
She is also a woman worthy of being proposed to twice and destiny-altering rescue missions.
Not all heroes wear capes. In Iris' case, it's just a fabulous wardrobe and poppin' melanin.
Relive Barry putting a ring on it from the swooth-worthy The Flash musical. Don't miss Iris West and Team Flash on The CW at 8/7c
Small Screen Girl
I am an unabashed pop culture and TV-aholic with no plans to ever seek treatment. Explore this blog and see just how deep my obsession goes.