While most casual fans of The Flash won’t be terribly familiar with Ralph Dibny, A.K.A Elongated Man (Hartley Sawyer), Dibny may give Team Flash the dose of humor it sorely needs after the downer that was last season.
While you won’t find him on too many t-shirts, Ralph Dibny has been kicking around DC comics since his first appearance in The Flash #112 way back in 1960. Known as Elongated Man, Ralph has proven his mettle in the comics alongside the likes of Batman and the Justice League time and time again and was at the center of one of DC Comics better storylines back in 2004, Identity Crisis.
Ralph is often portrayed as a highly skilled detective and all around good guy. The introduction of his character this season has strayed from that likeness just a bit. The current incarnation of Dibny is instead a heavy drinking shamed police detective who has settled for a life as a private eye after being caught perjuring himself by Barry Allen.
Sawyer told Entertainment Weekly about his take on the introduction of the character,
He’s very much down on his luck and working as a skeezy PI spying on people, but he has a connection to the mayor, which comes into play in that episode where the mayor has hired him to do some work. It plays into the whole story that’s coming up and it’s great because it’s an opportunity for Ralph and Barry to really butt heads again. They do not like each other at all. But he’s not a bad guy. He’s a good cop and he’s got a good heart. He needs some help bringing that back.
That is, of course, until it is discovered that a breach caused by our crew at S.T.A.R Labs has exposed him to dark matter, giving him super stretching powers.
In the comic, Dibny comes upon his powers more intentionally, when he realizes the active ingredient in a soft drink called Gingold interacts with his own genetic predisposition and distills it to give himself superhuman powers.
The Flash version of Dibny is a bit of a hard pill to swallow. While he has often been a bit of a show-off, now he is also a sexist, and thoughtless jerk. Producer Andrew Kreisberg explained the choice to reporters;
“You don’t want to add something that you already have,” Kreisberg said. “Ralph in the comics is very squeaky clean — no pun intended — and a good guy. The one thing we didn’t have on this show — because everybody is so likable — is we didn’t have a jerk… We didn’t have somebody who was just sort of a louse and crude and liked to drink and somebody who would also come in and sort of point out how silly it is that everyone’s in a superhero show.”
Dibney’s off-putting personality traits are a great opportunity for growth, as we have seen with others like HR and Killer Frost. Dibny is already learning from Barry and the crew that there is a lot more to being a superhero than simply being super.
“So many of these characters, they’re not who they are yet,” said Kreisberg. “Everybody is becoming the Green Arrow or becoming The Flash. We thought it would be interesting, like what if you had a little bit of a murkier backstory and by the time we got to season whatever, he’s the Ralph Dibny that everybody knows and loves from the comics. So that was the decision.”
When his bad habits nearly cost the life of a young girl, we see Dibny’s potential to be more than a wisecracking jack-ass. Of course, we don’t mind the wisecracking THAT much.
The show has only just scratched the surface of his abilities as a talented detective, so far showing us little more than his ability to estimate a woman’s body measurements from a glance, but we look forward to much more from him.
Dibny’s character will take a back seat as the team gears up for the epic Arrowverse crossover event Crisis on Earth-X. The Flash airs Tuesdays on The CW.
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Images: DC, The CW
Source: DC Wiki