Grant Gustin's The Flash might be coming to an end in Season 9, but it seems that the Arrowverse's longest-running series will pull out all the stops in order to give a satisfying ending to diehard fans.
The upcoming season is expected to wrap up several story arcs for the titular speedster, such as resolving Killer Frost's cliffhanger and addressing the Cobalt Blue villain tease at the end of Season 8.
While it seems plausible that Cobalt Blue will become Season 9's main villain, it appears that more unexpected foes will arrive (like Captain Boomerang) to pose a threat to Team Flash in its final season.
And now, a dangerous new adversary that already has established connections to the Arrowverse is confirmed to debut in The Flash's final season.
The Red Death Arrives in The Flash Season 9
Canadagraphs shared set photos from The Flash Season 9 revealing that Batwoman star Javicia Leslie is returning to the Arrowverse to portray Red Death, a DC comics villain who is a mashup between Batman and the Flash.
A closer look at the photos teased an intense confrontation between Leslie's Red Death and Grant Gustin's Flash:
In DC Comics, Red Death is a member of the Dark Knights, a group of alternate Multiversal versions of Batman led by The Batman Who Laughs. This alternate version of Bruce Wayne was traumatized by the death of his various Robins, which led him to harness the Speed Force to upgrade his way of crimefighting.
Bruce then absorbed the powers of Earth -52's Flash by combining his Batmobile and the Cosmic Treadmill, thus deciding to suit up as the Red Death.
In the Arrowverse, the Red Death was previously name-dropped in a future-set Season 5 episode of The Flash when Central City police captain David Singh mentioned that "Cicada killed more people than Zoom or even the Red Death."
The Red Death's appearance in The Flash Season 9 marks its first live-action debut.
Why Red Death's Arrival in The Flash is Important
In the comics, Red Death's arrival presents an emotional battle between an alternate Bruce Wayne and a confused Barry Allen, considering that the pair are close allies in the Justice League.
In the Arrowverse, though, the emotional impact of seeing Javicia Leslie as Red Death against Grant Gustin's Barry Allen is far less, mainly because they still haven't officially met on-screen. Although Batwoman was featured in Season 8's Armageddon crossover, Barry was seen as the Reverse Flash by Batwoman and the others in that alternate timeline so that didn't count.
Still, seeing an established Arrowverse hero become a villain in Season 9 is set to be heartbreaking for Team Flash. Despite that, there's a strong chance that this version of Ryan Wilder is from a different Earth, meaning that this could be the first solid indication that the Multiverse is finally back in play in The Flash after being sidelined due to the Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover event.
Realizing that the Multiverse is still present allows Barry and the rest of Team Flash to further explore alternate realities to find possible solutions on how to defeat Red Death. This also gives them an opportunity to uncover different Earths, such as the worlds of Stargirl, Titans, and Superman & Lois.
Moreover, with Leslie officially returning, it also presents a prime opportunity to bring her back as Batwoman for a proper crossover. Who knows? Earth Prime's Ryan Wilder could be the key in defeating Red Death once and for all.
The Flash Season 9 is expected to premiere on The CW in 2023.