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‘The Flash’ Reunion at MCCC 2023: Tom Cavanagh, Carlos Valdes, & Danielle Panabaker

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At last weekend’s Motor City Comic Con, stars of The Flash reunited for a fun panel about their time on the show. Tom Cavanagh, Carlos Valdes, and Danielle Panabaker were all in attendance to talk about their on-set adventures. 

CW’s The Flash on-set secrets

While the cast didn’t let slip many secrets from the television production, fans did learn a few interesting things. Firstly, it was so much fun to be in the room with all three actors. They’re clearly good friends to this day and love spending time together! 

Tom Cavanagh was hilarious in particular, much more so than one would expect given he plays Barry Allen’s archnemesis in several universes. His real-life rapport with Carlos Valdes is shockingly similar to the father-son relationship their characters shared in The Flash. It turns out both of them are amazing singers, and sang the MCCC audience two acapella songs that blew us away. On set, the two entertained their co-stars with similar antics. 

In fact, the relationship between Cisco and Harrison Wells in season 1 was largely due to the two co-stars’ friendship. When asked about their favorite Wells line, Danielle Panabaker kicked things off by saying how much she loves the relationship Tom Cavanagh and Carlos Valdes “forced in” between Wells and Cisco. Given how strong their connection was in season 1, finding out it wasn’t planned from the beginning was a big surprise!

Another surprise was finding out that the use of Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face” in The Flash series premiere wasn’t a suggestion by any of the cast. Valdes said “We didn’t choose that, it was chosen for us” while Panabaker explained “They put it in the script and they could afford it”, which seems to have been a surprise to all involved (even the audience). “They must have had a fat budget!”, as Carlos Valdes so succinctly put it. 

Both Valdes and Panabaker agreed that their favorite episodes to work on were the very first time The Flash stepped into the multiverse, episodes 13 and 14 of season 2. Cavanagh liked season 4, episode 15, where a nuclear bomb is exploding and Barry has seconds to figure out how to save Central City. Danielle Panabaker chimed in here with some interesting information. 

Cisco (Carlos Valdes) and Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh) in 'The Flash' (The CW)
Cisco (Carlos Valdes) and Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh) in ‘The Flash’ (The CW)

Apparently, season 4 was “tumultuous” after someone working on the show quit, seemingly suddenly. Episode 15 was one of the first to be made following this departure. Panabaker described it as a “bottle episode” because it was shot in 7 days in mostly one location with minimal VFX work. It turns out she’s also the one everyone on set would go to for information about the show because she knew everything on set, down to the shooting schedules others couldn’t remember. 

Scrapped ideas from The Flash

We also learned about some more production secrets thanks to this panel. Danielle Panabaker was asked about a buddy comedy spinoff show with Killer Frost and Vibe, to which she responded with an enthusiastic “YEAH!” before Tom Cavanagh and Carlos Valdes started to sing again. Valdes dropped some information about Cisco that fans may be particularly interested in or even upset with. 

Cisco famously took the metahuman cure and sacrificed his powers in season 5 of The Flash, only to pick up gauntlets that restored his exact powers when needed (such as for the Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover). Valdes had something to say about that storyline, saying “at the risk of alienating my audience and angering fans even more, I would flip flop again and have Cisco get his real powers again”.

That statement is particularly interesting since many fans assumed he wanted to leave the series or downgrade to a recurring role, so he asked for his powers to be taken away as the in-universe explanation for why Cisco wouldn’t be around as much anymore. But according to Carlos Valdes, “I think he needs to be the superhero he was meant to be. Let him be Vibe. Vibe be vibing. This is where I get sued by Warner Bros., but I don’t know why we took his powers away.” Danielle Panabaker asked what we were all thinking: “I thought you wanted that; it was a good storyline!” But Valdes said no, and responded “meh” to Panabaker saying Cisco losing his powers was a good storyline. 

A similar fan sentiment involved Killer Frost never really killing anyone after season 3, which Danielle Panabaker also didn’t love. When the actors were asked what their favorite thing planned for their characters that never made it to the screen was, Panabaker responded that she wanted Killer Frost to be more of a villain in season 4. After teasing it in season 3, “she didn’t actually kill anyone”. Cavanagh chimed in here as well, saying what’s on all our minds: “You’re Killer Frost and you don’t kill?” 

Carlos Valdes wanted Vibe to break dance while Cavanagh said “Let’s all kill people and break dance”. In truth, he said there were lots of versions of Harrison Wells that went unused. In his words, there were many in his “back pocket” that fans never got to see, like one that talked very fast. “Maybe good that you never got to see [some]”, Cavanagh remarked.

Killer Frost in The Flash (Danielle Panabaker)
Killer Frost (Danielle Panabaker) in ‘The Flash’ (The CW)

Tom Cavanagh, Danielle Panabaker, and Carlos Valdes on their favorite moments in the series

Wrapping up with some lighter moments, the stars had a lot to say about their favorite times on set. Tom Cavanagh’s favorite on-set moment was when Danielle Panabaker called “action!” for the first time as a director, while his favorite Harrison Wells to play was Eobard Thawne – he couldn’t pick a favorite!

When asked what her favorite part about playing Caitlin and Killer Frost was, Panabaker said “I just want to be Tom Cavanagh when I grow up”. That sparked a discussion about the number of Wells he played on the show, which he thinks was around 40 and definitely above 20. Danielle Panabaker said “Wells. Don’t ask me which one” when asked what her favorite character on the show was. Cavanagh said his fellow actors would constantly tell him that “he sucks” on set because Wells was constantly reinvented. 

Carlos Valdes told a hilarious story about Grant Gustin mistaking him for Candice Patton from the back while approaching set one day because of his long hair. He also said he didn’t know that Cisco was Vibe until he was handed a Vibe comic book during his final audition and opened to the first page. Meanwhile, Cavanagh wasn’t interested in taking the role of Harrison Wells and kept saying “no” until the creators told him he was playing the main villain, Reverse-Flash (who he was already familiar with). 

As for other favorites, all three stars liked season 1 of The Flash the best. That seems due to the uncertainty surrounding it, because they all agreed that no one knew where the show was going, or if people were going to watch or like it. Cavanagh said season 1 “moved along with real intent and pace”, with Wells killing Cisco and Iris discovering Barry’s superhero identity all in the same episode. He said “to be a part of that is a thrill”. 

As for their favorite crossovers, Panabaker “liked our first crossover” and Valdes’s favorite was the crossover he wasn’t even in. Everyone’s favorite character death was the very first time Wells killed Cisco, while Valdes remarked that he “love[d] dying, every time”. A question about everyone’s favorite color of speedster lightning revealed that Cavanagh likes yellow even though his character’s was red, Panabaker likes yellow and red, and Valdes likes blue (my favorite is purple, which sadly went unmentioned). 

Fans were eager to hear the cast members’ favorite part about the musical episode in season 3, which for Panabaker was “Not having to sing”! Cavanagh found it “slightly galling” that the two who sang nonstop were not asked to sing together, and Valdes said “it really was so confusing, even how it was thrown together” due to last-minute dance rehearsal scheduling. 

Finally, the three were asked about their favorite part of the characters they played. Danielle Panabaker said “I liked how smart Caitlin was”, while Carlos Valdes said “I liked how sexy Cisco was”. Tom Cavanagh one-upped both of them though, telling the audience “I liked how smart and sexy my two co-stars were”!

Be sure to check out Motor City Comic Con next time

The Flash panel at Motor City Comic Con was a ton of fun, and it was great to see three original members of Team Flash reunited in person. Hopefully, next time they’ll be joined by Grant Gustin and Candice Patton! For more on MCCC see below for who else was at the con, or visit their official website.

Motor City Comic Con November 2023 Preview

Motor City Comic Con November 2023 preview

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Uday Kataria

Hi! I'm a huge Marvel, DC, and LEGO fan. I run my own YouTube channel (GoldenNinja3000) and write/host podcasts for The Cosmic Circus. I also created and produced the LEGO Ninjago short film "Golden Hour".

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