The Advocate July/Aug 2022
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Arrow and Flash Creator Greg Berlanti Aims to Make TV Superheroes 'Look Like America'

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Pictured above: Wentworth Miller as Captain Cold (top left), Andy Mientus as Pied Piper (top right), Victor Garber as Dr. Martin Stein (bottom left), and John Barrowman as Malcolm Merlyn (bottom right)


However, Berlanti and his creative team aren’t simply ushering in a new era for TV’s popular superhero genre by introducing LGBT characters on The Flash and Arrow. The shows also include a number of out actors in high-profile roles operating within their shared universe. In addition to the debut of bisexual actor Andy Mientus as Pied Piper, Wentworth Miller plays the part of the calculating Captain Cold, and Victor Garber will be appearing later this season as one half of the heroic duo who combine to create Firestorm: The Nuclear Man. Meanwhile, John Barrowman has been making bad look oh-so-good as Oliver Queen’s nemesis Malcolm Merlyn/The Dark Archer since the first season of Arrow.

“Honestly, most of the time we aren’t even thinking about that, because it really is about finding the best actor for the role and whether or not they happen to be gay is secondary,” Berlanti says. “But I love it when we get to cast openly gay actors in a role that other people may not cast that person in, because it’s nice to remind everybody of what they can do.”

He says the fact that the two shows are among the most popular on the CW network proves viewers are ready for more.

“The network has been very welcoming and they realize the younger generation doesn’t really have issues with that kind of stuff,” he says. “They don’t really see [being LGBT] as a negative. There’s a lot more understanding, openness, and compassion around this issue today and that’s a great thing.”

It’s an attitude echoed by the leads of each series — Stephen Amell (Oliver Queen/Arrow), whose outspoken support earned him a spot on The Advocate’s 2014 list of Coolest Straight People in Entertainment, and Grant Gustin (Barry Allen/The Flash), who has spoken up on behalf of LGBT equality a number times since he gained international attention as Glee’s scheming gay Warbler, Sebastian Smythe, in 2011.

“There’s so much I admire about Stephen and Grant,” says Berlanti, noting that he feels both actors embody the spirit of a superhero in their real lives. “As an openly gay man who works with them, they have always been so loving and supportive of me as a coworker. In fact, it’s very touching to me to see how supportive they are of all different people and causes. It’s really admirable.”

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