Freedom Fighters: The Ray
Freedom Fighters: The Ray 2017
This is the second Arrowverse connected series that originally premiered on CW Seed after Vixen over the course of two seasons of short webseries episodes. Unlike the other two CW Seed properties, this primarily takes place on Earth X with a lesser focus on the Arrowverse at large aside from some Earth X versions of the characters as well as a couple brief camoes from the series. They also don’t get the entire cast to reprise their voices, only Melissa Benoist for the alternate Supergirl and Carlos Valdez as Cisco. The movie is a decent distraction and does have its own unique take on pride, but there’s not really anything too special about it.
One of the most unique things about this film is that the character that becomes the titular superhero is a gay man in his regular life named Ray who becomes a superhero called The Ray. There’s often the trope in superhero properties where the hero has their secret identity and is struggling with the decision to reveal their superhero secret to a loved one and that reveal is likened to coming out of the closet. This is one of the extremely few times if not the only time where the movie discusses that moment except they are actually using it in the traditional sense where Ray is urged to come out of the closet to his parents by his boyfriend. It does a fairly good job at representation without falling into gay stereotypes. Ray, his friend, and boyfriend all seem like regular guys without falling into any overly effeminate tropes.
One trope that the film does fall into is when Ray first gets his powers, he ends up using them for generally selfish means despite being shown as a down on his luck guy with a big heart. While he does a bunch of superhero type stuff, including saving a lesbian couple from a generic purse snatching slash near-hate crime, he also uses his newfound powers to get his job back. It might have an overly altruistic agenda behind it, as his job was helping the less fortunate find fair housing, he does it through blackmail and intimidation. And through his hubris, he ends up basically sacrificing his life on Earth 1 in the Arrowverse in order to help the people of Earth X who are under the thumb of Nazis led by evil versions of the Arrowverse squad.
The overall concept of this film is a little hard to follow and/or a little less than stellar. It jumps in right at the start with a conflict between many characters that most people won’t be familiar with. Besides the Ray, who is basically a generic hero with light powers. He’s got super strength, can fly, and can shoot light lasers from his arms. The one slightly interesting thing that he can also do is make himself briefly intangible and invisible to pass through objects. Otherwise, the battles are generally uninteresting and having evil Supergirl and Flash feel very under-powered compared to how evil versions of those characters would likely be with that amount of power behind them. Yes, they were able to help the Nazis take over the majority of the world, but they have a lot of trouble with some relatively minor superheroes and a small resistance army filled with regular humans.
The other characters generally don’t get much development. Ray’s friend who’s also the Black Condor in Earth X is the mostly generic best friend though he does have some of the best meta lines where he complains about Ray’s superhero training inside his apartment and points out how lazy his superhero name is. The other Freedom Fighters don’t get much development and a few of them barely even have their names mentioned before they die and it comes down to Vibe, Phantom Lady, and Black Condor whos powers aren’t really well explained either. The Ray himself is kind of an odd character arc as he more or less ends the same way he started off, he just traded places with his Earth 1 counterpart. Overall it was a decent distraction though it could have been a better story and built a better foundation for what should be an important gay superhero within the DC Universe. Instead, it was relegated to a webseries that was turned into a home video release that’s seemingly forgotten about. Kind of a shame. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.