As he inches closer to becoming a full-fledged -- and potentially size-changing -- superhero, Ray Palmer's about to do some networking with his fellow crime-fighters.
In tonight's new episode of "The Flash" -- appropriately titled "All-Star Team-Up," in the fine DC Comics tradition -- Ray (Brandon Routh) and his (probably-soon-to-be-ex) girlfriend Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards) hit the road from Starling City, home to The CW's "Arrow", to visit her one-time paramour Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) in hopes of keeping Ray in the super-suit game -- that is, if they survive the plots of a bee-themed villainess and a painfully awkward double date with Iris West (Candice Patton), Eddie Thawne (Rick Cosnett) and perpetual fifth-wheel Barry.
Actor Brandon Routh chatted with CBR News about the road ahead for Ray Palmer, and what it might mean for his alter ego the Atom.
CBR News: The last we saw of Ray it looks like even though he lived through his medical crisis, he might have gotten his figurative heart broken. What can you tell us about what's around the corner for Ray and Felicity?
Brandon Routh: Well, Ray definitely becomes a bigger part of Team Arrow in the "Flash" crossover. He's living in denial, to a degree, with the whole Felicity walking out on him after he said, "I love you." Through the course of the next few episodes, he's able to see Oliver and Felicity interacting and kind of comes to terms a little bit more with their path together, becomes a little more uncertain of Ray and Felicity's future together. I think he, at least, comes to a more mature understanding of the true relationship that Oliver and Felicity have had and sees the connection that they seem to still have.
Tell me a little bit about this road trip to Central City.
Felicity and Ray go to get help from S.T.A.R. Labs team after the Arrow/Atom fight. Ray's suit is compromised from Oliver's shiv that he throws -- or flechette, I think it was -- at Ray's power source, compromising the suit. So Ray needs help stabilizing it and making it more powerful, protecting it more, and Cisco and everyone at S.T.A.R. Labs are a likely choice to help him.
Who did Ray bond with in the crossover -- and for you, Brandon, who did you really bond with?
I would say I bonded with pretty much everybody over there. It's such a fun and cool cast. For so long on "Arrow," I didn't get to work with anybody really but Emily [Bett Rickards]. While she's absolutely fantastic, and I love all of our work together, creatively, I'd like to work with other people as well. Plus, I'm a fan of "Flash," myself, so getting to work with all those guys, interact with them was a very cool thing. So I think Ray's character definitely bonds more with Cisco. Cisco's the one that really helps him with the modifications to the suit. And as far as I'm concerned, I shot a film with Tom Cavanagh last Spring, so it was awesome to work with him a little bit and talk to him more and visit again. And just meet everybody on that show really for the first time. I'm a fan of all of them.
Did you find that Ray was a good fit with that sunnier group on "The Flash" than he is with those dark, brooding characters on "Arrow?"
Yeah, I think what it does is it serves to amp Ray up even more. It allowed him to live in that aspect of him, that bright, shiny aspect of him even more. So that was a lot of fun to play, finding all those levels for the character going forward: who is Ray depending on, the people that are around him. I think he definitely changes his demeanor kind of depending on who he's speaking to and what the situation calls for. So that was a cool exploration there.
You have more experience rocking superhero suits than most: what's been the fun part of the Atom suit? Have there been any challenging aspects?
The fun part has been being in it, fighting in it, the reveal, the build-up. I was excited about all those things as well, frankly, just because it's been such a build-up from the start of talking about the suit and all the costume fittings and all that. So the reveal was the coolest part and now being active in it and fighting in it is pretty cool. The challenging part is when you're not shooting and sitting around in it and waiting. There are certainly some times when it's uncomfortable and not the most fun thing to be in, but that's all a learning process as well. It's remembering how grateful I am to be in this opportunity, even when I've been in the suit for eight hours.
In the last episode of "Arrow" we finally got to the shrinking aspect of Ray's technology. Are you excited to hopefully be able to do some old fashioned Atom superheroics at tiny size?
Yeah, I look forward to that -- if that's where we're going, and I think that it is. I would love to see that happen. I think everybody would. As cool as the Atom suit is and all the capabilities that it has and that Ray can modify it to kind of do whatever he wants, I look forward to getting into the lore of that and what will make him more unique than anybody else, certainly in the DC Universe. Something we haven't seen before, and I look forward to that happening when it happens.
This many episodes in, what's been your take-away from the experience working on "Arrow," "Flash" and what lies ahead? What's the takeaway for you of this gig?
I think the take-away is, I never really thought this opportunity... I hadn't conceived of this opportunity, an opportunity to play another superhero. I don't know that that means that anything is possible, so maybe there's that. The other thing is, I could've looked at it and thought, well, I played the coolest superhero ever. What have I got left to prove or do? To get back into the world seems silly because I played Superman. But thankfully I wasn't in that mindset. I stayed open to the creative process. Seeing and knowing how well done "Arrow" was and seeing the teaser for "Flash" that had been out at the time, to see where they'd be going, was very exciting to me.
So I kept my head up, my eyes open, and engaged in talks about the character. And I'm so glad that I did, because it's become the perfect character for me that I didn't know existed. Being able to play not just The Atom, but Ray Palmer, first and foremost -- the fact that I get to be this energetic, lively, wise-cracking character is just very fulfilling for me. So I'm very thankful for it.
Your first superhero job was at the dawn of the current age of superhero cinema, and those characters really becoming pervasive in the pop culture. Have you noticed any interesting or fun differences from then as opposed to now, when there's so much fun superhero stuff going on and you're still a part of it? Is there any distinction between the two that you've picked up on?
It strikes me, I guess, that we're still doing superheroes and they're still selling. Not that I doubted that they would go away. But I think there are a lot of people out there that were doubters and thought it was a fad. That there was only so much source material and it would fade. I've heard this comment before: that people talk about superheroes as our modern day Greek Gods. I think the cool thing about superheroes is, especially with Superman, is it allows us to visualize and see what it's like to be a powerful human being. How to harness that power and use it for good and to restrain from the fear and the revenge and all these things that we want to have and find our higher self. These superheroes give us the opportunity to see that visualized, and I trust all work toward it as a society all across the world to aim higher.
"The Flash" airs Tuesdays at 8pm on The CW.