The Flash will introduce a new villain this week. Kiana Madeira guest stars as Spencer Young, who goes by the villainous name of “Spin” when giving the Flash family headaches. And while Spin is indeed a character from the comics, there are some pretty serious differences.
For starters, this is a gender-swapped character. The comic book version of Spin only appeared in one story, which ran in The Flash #238-241 back in 2008. Created by Tom Peyer and Freddie E. Williams II, Spin was a media mogul named Auerbach, who could manipulate people’s fears and emotions and conjure powerful hallucinations based on them, in part via the news he broadcast on his network.
But in fact, that version of Spin was actually two people. Auerbach was exploiting Edwar Martinez, who could alter reality based on what people were sensing and feeling. Auerbach held Martinez captive and fed him a steady diet of bad news, and then he amplified those abilities for his own villainous needs. It’s a little complicated (and it isn’t the most memorable of Flash tales, to be honest).
But so far, there hasn’t been a lot of info out there about the TV version of Spin, who we’ll meet on the fourth episode of the season, “News Flash.” We spoke with Kiana Madeira about bringing the little known DC supervillain to life, and while the actress won’t talk about the source of Spin’s abilities other than to say that it’s “super cool,” it doesn’t sound like there are too many similarities between Spencer Young and the Auerbach/Martinez combo.
“The new version of Spin is very relevant to the time we live in today because she is a young, aspiring, social media influencer who uses social as an opportunity to make herself famous,” Madeira says.
This is a pretty profound departure from the decidedly “old media” version of the character from the comics. The comic book version of Spin used TV news to prey on the population’s fears and insecurities, and then used those feelings to manipulate characters.
That isn’t how the new character works, though. “I would say she manipulates the superheroes to fit her own narrative as to what she thinks would make great news,” Madeira says. “It’s not necessarily playing on their insecurities, but it’s more of just fitting a narrative that she thinks will be entertaining to people in the news.”
In some ways, despite the lack of the social media element, it still feels somewhat timely. And while the methods are different on TV, there are still some similarities. The shift from old media to new media, and specifically social media, makes Spin a very of the moment villain, and that’s something that the actress who portrays her seems well aware of.
“It hits so close to home,” Madeira says. “I think that social media influence is such a powerful presence in our society to the point where it’s a little bit scary sometimes. I can see firsthand being young and being from this generation as well that Instagram influences our minds in such a powerful way that sometimes we’re not even aware of it. I think that the writers of The Flash really hit home with choosing Spin to go about her abilities in that way because it’s happening every day that we’re living.”
Madeira herself seems to take a more careful view of social media, though.
“Honestly, I feel like inside my soul, I’m very anti-social media to a point where I realized that I need to be active in part because of my profession, but I delete all of the social media apps on my phone daily,” she says. “I’ll only reinstall them to check my updates and then delete them again. I know firsthand the effects of how it absorbs our mind and I don’t like having my mind absorbed. I do everything in my power to not fall into that.”
But just because we’re talking about social media doesn’t mean that the “traditional” news doesn’t play into things with Spin. In fact, the connection to the news (not to mention the title of the episode) brings to mind Iris West-Allen’s journalism career, and that is no accident.
“I do know that there’s a lot to come with the relationships between Spin and Iris because they go back in history,” Madeira says. “They used to work together in CCPN. There’s a little bit of a competition between the two of them, so that’s something that could be played with as well, and explored. There’s a lot of different ways that the story can be taken from where we’re at now. I’m just as excited just as you to see where it goes.”
The history between Iris and Spencer/Spin goes way back, too.
“Spencer Young always wanted to be a social media influencer,” Madeira says. “She actually started her own blog when she worked at CCPN with Iris and she was … almost like an intern there. From the beginning, she always wanted to do this and now this just amplifies her ability.
So will we see Spin again this season? While the character was billed as a “recurring” role when first announced, Madeira isn’t giving anything away just yet.
“We left it pretty open-ended,” she says. “Just like you, I’m very excited to see where the narrative is going to be taken. I do know that there is a lot that could be done with Spin as a character. It’s not necessarily a one and done, but I’m excited to see where Spin is going to come in the narrative again. I don’t have an exact answer for you yet.”
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