The high-rated CW show The Flash takes you on the journey of Barry Allen’s life and the on-going metahumans and villains that try to take over Central City. Iris West-Allen, played by the beautiful African-American actress Candice Patton, is the owner of Central City Citizen Newspaper and has been married to Barry Allen aka The Flash for the last two years. As an avid viewer of The Flash and fan of the Iris/Barry relationship, I’ve seen how members of the fandom have tried to sideline Iris as a character. Over the last five years, Flash shipper sub-fandoms like Snowbarry and some general comic books fans have sent bitterness, hatred, and racist tweets towards Candice Patton. This kind of treatment is disrespectful. Not only is Candice Patton is only playing a character, all fans of The Flash need to show her character respect.
Casting Candice Patton brought a fair amount of racism and hatred towards her and her character. I remember reading in Pop Sugar that Patton had to leave Twitter for a while because of the comments she got after being cast. “And I remember our executive producer at this time, once I got cast, he was like ‘Don’t go online. Just don’t go on,’” she said. But now in 2019, I see how Patton continues to stay unbothered by the hate. She clapped back at a racist user on Twitter back in March 2018 with, “Since you continue with racist comments in my mentions… you must want attention. Here you go…😌” after the user’s (now deleted) tweet to Patton, which said, “I have nothing against white man having jungle fever. Most of them are loser that can’t get with attractive white women.”
Fans also tend to sideline the character Iris by saying she is annoying or that all she does is sit in Star Labs. Iris West-Allen isn’t just sitting around at Star Labs anymore. She has a newspaper, is putting together a Central City Citizen team, and is making her life matter. But to some fans, all that doesn’t seem like it’s enough to earn respect from them. Even lines Iris says, for example, “We Are The Flash,” got a lot of criticism in Season 4 because fans couldn’t accept how Iris wasn’t herself The Flash.
The Flash is on its sixth season and fans continue to demolish Iris’s character, especially certain Snowbarry shippers. The Snowbarry fandom feels racist to me because of how they’ve made up in their minds that Caitlin (Danielle Panabaker) and Barry (Grant Gustin) will be together soon. Every time they are on screen together, they seem to think it’s a moment they are having between each other. I have seen fans photoshop Caitlin’s body over Iris on a poster featuring Barry and their daughter, Nora (Jessica Parker Kennedy), replacing Nora’s face as well. To them, if Danielle Panabaker posts a picture of her with Grant Gustin for the show, it means she wants them to happen. It’s to the point where you have to mute the word “Snowbarry” on Twitter because it shows up on The Flash hashtag. You have to choose not to look at what the Snowbarry and comic book fans have to say.
I commend Westallen shippers because they go hard for their ship and try to protect Candice Patton from the negative comments in her mentions. Barry and Iris are and will always be together. In the comic books they are together and have kids together. It’s nerve-racking to see how much hate Snowbarry fans and even comic book fans have toward Iris West-Allen.
It seems clear that fandoms like “Snowbarry” or the more toxic comic book lovers have shown hatred towards Iris since the beginning because she is not the typical white character you see in the comics. Iris is a strong Black beautiful woman that doesn’t look like what the “Iris” in their minds should be. It must irritate some fans to see a Black woman strive in her journalism career and have a love for her white husband. But if they open their minds, they’ll realize The Flash showcases Iris as more than just Barry’s equal. Iris provides the source of reason when Barry is in the wrong but also supports her husband’s journey. From the beginning of the first season up until now, Iris has shown she is able to hold her own in fights, from sticking a sword in her shoulder to save her friends, coming up with ideas to save the world, to jumping off of a building for her husband. And yet, fans continue to have the mindset that Iris doesn’t contribute anything to the team.
Iris West-Allen has become the heart of The Flash because she is realistic and consistent with who she is. These qualities are precisely what makes this version of Iris such a phenomenal character to The Flash. Fans may not like this version of Iris, but the writers still tried to stay true to her persona for all the comic books fans out there. Also, viewers are not used to a happy and healthy interracial relationship on their screen, to seeing how a white man is so in love with his beautiful Black wife and wants her to succeed in her career.
The hatred and treatment of Iris West-Allen affected this character uniquely. Even the DCEU movie verse version of Iris was going to be Black, though her scenes were cut. Candice Patton created the conversation of how we view and see Iris West from the comics and beyond. She has been a voice for young Black girls that they can be and portray whoever they like to be regardless of the color of their skin. Women of color are starting to see themselves represented in a way that we haven’t seen before, being the leading lady for superhero shows and movies. All of this to say, put some respect on Iris West-Allen’s name; she is a beautiful, precise leader and journalist. The criticism she gets from certain fandoms for the last six years is unnecessary.
If you don’t like her, change the channel.