Keep Iris West Black: The Flash Casts Kiersey Clemons

Tatiana Hullender Tatiana Hullender
July 25th, 2016

Longtime fan of comic books and their various adaptations. Aspiring writer who works in advertising for nonce.

Keep Iris West Black: The Flash Casts Kiersey Clemons

The DC Cinematic Universe has finally welcomed Kiersey Clemons as Iris West for the upcoming Flash movie, and our Tatiana Hullender is here to give her thoughts on the casting.

Variety reported exclusively that Kiersey Clemons has been cast as the female lead of the upcoming Flash movie, starring Ezra Miller. They previously wrote that she was in talks to close a deal earlier this month, but it was officially announced Monday afternoon that she would take on the role. Her character has not been revealed by Warner Bros. executives, but the director hinted that she will be playing Iris West.

The Casting Of Kiersey Clemons:

Clemons will mostly play the role once The Flash starts filming later this year, but Deborah Snyder also hinted on a set visit in June that the much beloved character may also appear in the Justice League movie as a cameo. Another thing to note is that many outlets are describing Iris West as a "tough-as-nails journalist" and "friend of Barry Allen." This seems to be a rather coy classification. Perhaps it's an indicator that their backstory in the movie will be similar to the show's.

Will Barry and Iris have a pre-established friendship instead of meeting for the first time onscreen?

Kiersey Clemons and Candice Patton photographed for Essence Magazine

Kiersey Clemons and Candice Patton photographed for Essence Magazine

Rumors circulated for months on end about who might play the iconic reporter and the love of Barry Allen’s life, with names ranging from Imogen Poots to Rita Ora thrown around in various forums and social media platforms. At the start of the process, a group of fans known as the Iris West Defense Squad organized #KeepIrisBlack and later #BlackIrisForDCEU trends to let the producers know they’d like to see more diversity on the big screen. Candice Patton as Iris West on the CW version of The Flash sent shockwaves throughout the DC universe, and inspired many fans of color to watch the show for her. It coincided with the introduction of a black Wally West in the comics and later led to a black Wally in the television show. Though the racebending resulted in some angry fans claiming comic book purity, Patton's performance is beloved by many viewers who commend CW's The Flash for including a portrayal of a healthy interracial relationship and for spotlighting a close-knit black family.

Not everyone was in favor of a black Iris for the movie. The same types of fans who theatened to boycott Star Wars due to a black stormtrooper bemoaned the thought of giving up a white heroine. The possibility of #KeepIrisBlack succeeding increased, however, once acclaimed director Rick Famuyiwa stepped in to take over from Seth Graham-Greene. He previously worked with Kiersey Clemons in the film Dope, and his movies often focused on racial dynamics and exploring what it means to be black. Because Cyborg - also known as Victor Stone and the only black member of the Justice League - is said to be appearing in Barry Allen's solo film, it made sense to hire a director who is sensitive to issues at play. A film about superheroes does not need to tackle race head on in order for it to be an important factor.

As a Latina, I can't speak specifically about what it means for black fans to see Kiersey playing Iris on the big screen. There have been discussions of colorism in Hollywood that apply here, and darker-skinned actresses should be included more in starring roles. What I can say is that allowing another young black actress the opportunity to play Iris West seems like the right move for a few reasons. Marvel's Black Panther and Spider-Man diversity announcements have received an overwhelmingly positive response, and DC should keep up. More importantly, fans of all races deserve to see themselves onscreen, and not just as superheroes but as people worthy of being loved by said superheroes too. The trailers for Wonder Woman and Justice League dropped this weekend, and DC fans are going wild over them.

Let's hope this latest casting decision is also met with enthusiasm, and that we will soon hear news of a talented dark-skinned actress snagging the role of Sarah Charles in Cyborg.

Aside from rising to fame in Dope, Kiersey has also starred in the television series Eye Candy and Extant as well as appearing in the film Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising. UTA, MJMG and Mach 1 Management currently represent her.


What do you think of Kersey Clemons' casting as Iris West?

What are your thoughts on the new Flash film project?

Let us know in the comments section below.


Tatiana Hullender is a Contributor to ComiConverse. Follow her on Twitter: @MyrcellasEar

Source: Variety

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