In addition to hosting the hilariously overprotective Breacher (Danny Trejo) as a foil for Cisco (Carlos Valdes) and Gypsy's (Jessica Camacho) relationship, The Flash also introduced a major DC character in tonight's episode. Elongated Man, a.k.a Ralph Dibny (Hartley Sawyer), has officially hit Central City.
Comic fans might have noticed a few differences between The Flash's version of Ralph and the version they know from the source material. Specifically, his characterization and backstory has changed pretty dramatically. Ralph's stretching powers may be the same, but he was introduced as one of the 12 metas created when Barry (Grant Gustin) exited the speed force, and he's not exactly the kind of guy you'd want to bring home for dinner.
At a press screening of the episode, executive producer Andrew Kreisberg told reporters they made a purposeful decision to alter certain characteristics and events of Ralph's past.
"You don't want to add something that you already have," Kreisberg says. "Ralph in the comics is very squeaky clean — no pun intended — and a good guy. The one thing we didn't have on this show — because everybody is so likable — is we didn't have a jerk... We didn't have somebody who was just sort of a louse and crude and liked to drink and somebody who would also come in and sort of point out how silly it is that everyone's in a superhero show."
Ralph definitely presents a new kind of hero for us since he's not technically someone we want to root for. Planting murder evidence and blackmailing the mayor with dirty pictures isn't exactly the kind of behavior that endears a character to an audience.
However, he does decide to change his ways as the episode wraps up, and that kind of change is something we can probably expect to see more of as Barry mentors him and trains him to use his stretchy powers for good.
"So many of these characters, they're not who they are yet," says Kreisberg. "Everybody is becoming the Green Arrow or becoming The Flash. We thought it would be interesting, like what if you had a little bit of a murkier backstory and by the time we got to season whatever, he's the Ralph Dibny that everybody knows and loves from the comics. So that was the decision."
Origin stories are always popular with fans, and it's easy to tell that Ralph's is going to be a pretty hilarious one. His powers are silly enough as it is (and can apparently be incredibly hard to create for visual effects), but his selfish and often scummy nature isn't going to gel well with his mission to be a hero.
"We have an episode coming up where Ralph, he gets hurt and like, he didn't know he could die. So Cisco's like, 'I'm sorry, were you only doing this because you thought you were invincible?' And he's like, 'Yes! Why else would I be doing this?!'"
Fair question, Ralph. Fair question.
The Flash airs Tuesdays at 8/7c on The CW.
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