Superhero fans rally to keep The Flash's love interest black

Tweet: "#KeepIrisBlack because your white fave is never going to slay like this" Some fans want Candice Patton who plays Iris on TV to reprise the role for the big screen

DC Comics and Warner Bros have found themselves at the heart of Hollywood's latest debate about "whitewashing". But some are arguing that this campaign may not be justified.

The announcement that DC Comics and Warner Bros are to put comic book character The Flash on the big screen in two forthcoming movies was good news for many. There is already a successful TV series based on the character, and fans were expecting more of the same.

But some were alarmed by the suggestion that one of the supporting characters might undergo a transformation for the cinema version. Although full details of the film's cast are yet to be announced, one blog reported "industry rumours" that the race of one of the characters may be changed.

The report suggests that a white actress, Imogen Poots, could be cast as Iris West Allen - a part played in the successful TV version by black actress Candice Patton.

Although the rumour remains unconfirmed, some fans began accusing Warner Bros of "whitewashing", using the hashtag "Keep Iris Black". The phrase has now appeared more than 7,000 times.

Tweet: "#KeepIrisBlack because the lack of WOC and specifically black women in superhero films and TV is appalling. And no, BM don't represent BW."
Tweet: "#KeepIrisBlack in DCEU because there isn't a single reason not to. Stay on course for progression, don't take several strides back".

But how black is Iris? Although she is played by a black actress in the TV adaptation of the comic books, she was originally drawn in as a white character in print.

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And as a result, many fans see the hashtag as misguided.

Tweet: "#KeepIrisBlack is meaningless because Iris was never black. They just made her black in the CW show but that's it. Iris has never been black."
Tweet: "This whole #KeepIrisBlack thing is ridiculous. They can have their black Iris in CW but not the movie."

And others have decried the monochrome nature of the debate.

Twitter: "#KeepIrisBlack There are other races in the world you know? Why are the only options black or white?"
Tweet: "Don't #KeepIrisBlack #MakeIrisLatina."

It's not the first time that a comic book casting has provoked debate online. Earlier this month BBC Trending reported on the "white washing" controversy surrounding the Hollywood adaptation of the Japanese manga cartoon "Ghost In The Shell".

And although Harry Potter is not a super hero the decision to cast a black actress to play Hermione Granger - a part played in the film series by the white actress Emma Watson - onstage provoked similar wrath from Potterphiles, before the character's creator tweeted: "Rowling loves black Hermione".

Blog by Jonathan Griffin

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