The Worst Villain On The Flash According To Fans
DC's live-action properties are currently suffering. Their blockbuster projects, which were once only criticized for writing and tone, are now drowning beneath a flood of legal battles involving their starring actors. Their serialized projects are getting canceled thanks to company acquisitions, and the ones that made the cut are still receiving critical backlash for storytelling (more on that later). On both fronts, DC's scarlet speedster seems to be solidly weathering the storm, with the DC Extended Universe production still set to release in 2023 (although Ezra Miller seems to be doing his level best to change that) and the CW series getting renewed for a ninth season, with no official end in sight (according to Variety).
But maybe it's time to consider a series finale, because "The Flash" is starting to pile up some gnarly criticisms. In fairness, the episodic adventure — which stars Grant Gustin in the famous red tights — is still praised for adhering to the light-hearted fantasy. And to a degree, no show gets nine seasons unless something about it is genuinely working with audiences, but "The Flash" seems to feature an abundance of unloved villain characters. These aren't characters you're supposed to love but rather love to hate. Apparently, some fans just hate them, so much so that they've taken to ranking them by just how awful their time with the series was.
For Flash fans on Reddit, Cicada is the worst villain by a wide margin
On a subreddit dedicated to the series, Prize-Union-3656 posted a poll, asking the community to vote for the "worst Flash villain." Among the available options were Bloodwork (Sendhil Ramamurthy), Mirror Monarch (Efrat Dor), and Godspeed (Kindall Charters and Karan Oberoi, depending on the season). The poll garnered approximately 3,100 responses, a third of which went to a single option: Cicada (Chris Klein). Cicada, aka Orlin Dwyer, was a murderous vigilante who sought revenge — or justice, it really depends on your moral views — on metahumans who were connected to a death in his family. On the surface, that's a solid villain arc. So why did everyone hate it so much?
For the uninitiated, here's a breakdown of the guy. First, it's important to know that Cicada has literally nothing to do with the insect for which he is named. He wears an industrial breathing apparatus that changes his voice and (kind of) hides his identity. Through the mask, his breathing sounds just a little like cicadas. So, yeah, that's strike one already. Secondly, his powerset is blatantly ridiculous. He can summon a jagged dagger, which operates a bit like Thor's Mjolnir in that only he can wield it. But the caveat here is that it also happens to use his chest as a sheath because it's actually a deadly piece of shrapnel from an exploded satellite that emits dangerous red lightning and a power dampening field so that no one who has powers similar to his can fight back. Also, he's super strong, a trained killer, and can fly.
Feeling the mental whiplash yet? Buckle in, because there's more.
Cicada outstayed his welcome
Cicada comes prepackaged with a high tolerance for pain, which must come in handy with that giant shard of fantasy metal impaled in his chest. His talent for longsuffering was perhaps his most relatable quality because, as one Redditor noted, "I just had to choose Cicada ... At least Godspeed didn't stick around for nearly as long as Cicada. Hell, I actually almost chose Mirror Monarch because I think they're by far one of the worst villains in the series, but I still went with Cicada since they lasted for far too long." Another user suggested that his screen time felt more egregious because he was "a racist d***."
Remember that power negation skill? It was only supposed to work on metahumans who received their powers in a similar way to Cicada (i.e., Flash himself), but it ended up working on Supergirl and the Martian Manhunter, too, which another user pointed out as a massive plot hole. What's more, the show apparently went out of its way to make his villainous escapes feel off.One Redditor said, "I don't know if it was the actor, the director, or the script, but the performance ended up feeling more stupid than intimidating or ominous ... Not to mention him constantly getting away was dumb ... Cicada required Barry to, multiple times, stand there and do nothing while he got away. Even when his dagger was taken away, they still didn't get him."
To summarize, Cicada was an overpowered and underwritten character that stuck around for far too long, with a little racism added for flavor. Yeah, he's probably the best pick for this poll, which is saying something, considering his competition.
Some more unfortunate news ...
The cruelest nail in Cicada's coffin — and possibly even a much larger metaphorical coffin for the entire creative team behind "The Flash" — is that Cicada is essentially a CW original character. To be clear, there is a Cicada in the comics, but that Cicada is an immortal dude named David Hersch who killed his own wife twice (the same lady both times, it was this whole thing) and led a cult of knife-wielding zealots on a quest to murder everyone the Flash ever saved. Charming, isn't he? The only things this Cicada has in common with the CW's main variant are that they both have knives and a shared backstory with their respective Flashes.
A David Hersch (portrayed by Chris Webb) does appear in "The Flash," and he's also a domestic terrorist, but he's immediately captured in the same episode that he arrives. It's more of a nod to the original than a true depiction. What this means for "The Flash" is that the creative team opted to create original content, and then that original content was subsequently lambasted. In a 2019 A.V. Club review, Scott Von Doviak referred to the character as the "weak link, with a simplistic motivation and an even sketchier plan." As for fan responses, well, scroll back a few paragraphs. It's cruel to suggest any reinterpreted story is immediately lesser than, but for superhero media, mistakes like this can be a death knell.
Furthermore, while "The Flash" is clearly still greenlit, the series has been hemorrhaging its original cast members, with the most recent exit being Jesse L. Martin, who portrayed Joe West from day one. Only three original actors are left. Take that all as you will.