Why Cisco Ramon is the Best Character on ‘The Flash’
As superheroes go, the Flash never really did it for me growing up. I was always more of a Batman/Superman kind of guy. Forgive the horrible pun but a guy who could run fast wasn’t as flashy as a dude with laser vision or a guy who decked himself out in a bat suit to fight crime.
Granted I did watch the short-lived series with John Wesley Shipp twenty-five years ago. However, back then superhero shows were at a premium. Now you have a plethora of superhero shows to choose from that’s so big, size wise it borders on Batman’s Rogues Gallery. Netflix, cable, broadcast networks–superhero shows inundate the entire television spectrum.
In case you couldn’t tell by the fact that I write for this website and my pseudonym is Darth Gandalf, I consider myself a colossal geek. However, it may surprise you to know that most of the superhero shows don’t appeal to me. Gotham comes across boring and lacking substance, Agents of Shield feels like a tease without the Avengers, and Supergirl–well the less said the better. Throw in a one year old son and my desire to find an enjoyable superhero show isn’t particular high on my radar.
Enter CW’s The Flash.
I have to admit it took some convincing. I already had my own bias about the character and the show was on the CW after all. I’m not knocking the CW but I mean, it’s also the network that carried Dawson’s Creek and The Vampire Diaries. Plus Barry Allen was being played by a guy from Glee. Also the first season was half way done by the time my co-worker Colton got on me about watching the show. I watched the series premiere more to get the guy off my back than curiosity or entertainment value.
It turned out to be one of the best television decisions I ever made.
I was hooked right from the beginning. Everything from Barry’s transformation into the Flash, the duplicity of Harrison Wells/Reverse Flash, intriguing villains like Captain Cold and The Trickster, and the passion each actor demonstrated for the show was perfect. Was the dialogue a little corny at times? Yes. But it is a superhero show and the fact that The Flash focuses so much on story and character rather than spectacle, makes up for any “You’ll never get away with this!” moments. I felt empathy and connection for every single character on The Flash, even Eobard Thawne, season one’s main villain. But above all others, the one guy I connected with most was mechanical engineer Cisco Ramon.
The writers for The Flash could easily have made Carlos Valdes’ character into a goofy sidekick solely there for comedic value. But they added a depth and sweetness to the character I wasn’t expecting. Granted he is the funniest guy on the show. I mean check out some of these lines:
“How can you speak six languages and sound like a dick in every one of them?”
“You guys are like ten seasons of Ross and Rachel, but, just like, smushed into one year.”
“We’re studying the average number of bugs Barry swallows in a day of running.”
Additionally there’s all the times Cisco mentioned Back to the Future, Ghostbusters, and (most recently) The Princess Bride. The guy is a virtual encyclopedia of geekiness whether it be comics, television, movies, or superheroes. He’s the kind of guy you’d call first to play D & D or go to a Terry Gilliam movie marathon. Cisco is the type of friend who’d get every Shawn of the Dead reference and simultaneously know the entire back story to the arcade game Joust. He’s also a straight fanboy too. Look how much he geeked out when he met Black Canary! Cisco’s even become a superhero in his own right this season as his enhanced psychic abilities are coming to the fore.
As much as I don’t like to think of Cisco as a sidekick (at least not in the traditional sense), he seems to fully embrace that role. Think about it. Cisco assists Barry from the background and utilizes not super speed but his intellectual powers. He also takes it upon himself to name the various villains that the Flash encounters. In fact Cisco gets legitimately pissed off whenever anyone attempts to usurp his authority when it comes to supervillain nomenclature. Cisco was also the first person to figure out Harrison Wells was actually Eobard Thawne, AKA the Reverse Flash. None of these are the actions of a mere sidekick.
However, I always questioned Cisco’s purpose on the show. Obviously he’s so much more than comic relief but what’s his role on the show? He’s not simply there to produce a deus ex machina every time Barry or Joe or Iris gets in trouble. That’s a complete disservice to the character. I didn’t get an inkling until I heard the following Cisco quote on Arrow:
“We want to see the Arrow Cave…I want to see the toys…I need to see the toys…do you guys have an Arrow-mobile?”
He then proceeds to offer suggestions on how to improve the “Arrow Cave.”
The very next day that same friend who turned me on to The Flash nailed it with one simple yet profound sentence, “Cisco Ramon is the voice of the audience.”
Once you lay it out that plainly it makes perfect sense. I don’t want to paint a broad stroke here, but it’s probably safe to assume that the audience for The Flash consists of movie/comicbook/superhero obsessed people. Next to actually being the Flash, Cisco Ramon is the ideal character that most geeks would aspire to. It’s the ultimate superhero fantasy come true. The audience (including myself) identifies with Cisco. We gravitate towards his personality.And it’s not just his geekiness that endears us to him. Cisco is a genuinely good human being. He cares about his friends but also the city at large, the masses that he’s never met. Cisco wants to protect them just as much as Barry. Furthermore, while Barry deals with extraordinary circumstances daily (not saying that Cisco doesn’t) the audience connects with Cisco’s everyday problems because they are issues everyone can relate to. Whether it’s romance problems (Golden Glider is probably a lost cause and he’s got disappointment ahead regarding Hawkgirl), dealing with his parents favoritism, or being letdown by his mentor; these are all issues that normal people face everyday. Except for his transformation into Vibe. Not that.
It probably goes without saying, but none of this would be possible without the talent and charisma of Carlos Valdes. He brings a depth and passion to the character on par with any actor who’s played a superhero. I couldn’t see anyone else playing this role.
Cisco Ramon, the geek we need AND the one we deserve.
You can follow me on Twitter @DarthGandalf1