Rag doll

How The Flash’s Ragdoll Is Different From The Comics

Even though the new Team Flash lineup has to worry about the overall threat of Cicada, it’s not like Central City has suddenly become invulnerable to all other dangers. In “Doll’d Up”, Barry and Iris will actually face a blurrier face when comic book villain Rag Doll arrives. However, as usually goes with the flashEnemies of TV, we’ll get a pretty different version of Rag Doll for The CW drama.

CinemaBlend spoke with Rag Doll portrayer and jaw-dropping contortionist Troy James about what fans can expect from this bendable-as-hell new villain. James, who went viral after his America’s Got Talent essay, told me that his vicious rag doll would be a semi-combination of Golden Age Peter Merkel and Modern Age Peter Merkel Jr., in addition to other things. He revealed about the new-to-TV character:

I was researching Rag Doll, since he’s not the best known, and came across that there was a Rag Doll Sr., a born flexible villain. But also Rag Doll Jr., his son, who wasn’t born flexible but had a lot of surgeries to look like his dad, so there’s definitely some family issues there. I sort of took a bit of both when I figured out which rag doll to play, because you know he’s a psycho and he likes to go to the extreme…how shall I put it? He’s very sadistic, which is more in line with Peter Merkel Jr., and I’m naturally flexible, just like Peter Merkel Sr. So it’s almost like the meta powers are enhanced by what he naturally has. And it was fun to play and make my own rag doll.

Seems like a genius planner like The Thinker was responsible for setting up this scenario. The most effective way to the flash to tackle its lower-level multi-identity villains is to combine them into a single entity, of course. However, there can’t be THAT many actors who can bring Rag Doll’s contortionist tricks and tricks to life as successfully as Troy James. (Seriously, his work as the silent monster Pretzel Jack in Syfy’s Channel Zero: The Gate of Dreams is wonderful.)

Of course, Troy James’ rag doll would almost necessarily need to change things up from the Peter Merkel who was created in 1942. This version was a carnival worker who turned to crime using a costume of rag doll to trick people, and was later able to use hypnosis and brainwashing to aid him in his crimes. His son, Peter Jr., had a darker personality, no doubt partly due to the self-harm he suffered to artificially acquire his father’s abilities.

As Troy James hinted, Peter Jr.’s more mentally troublesome tendencies will be prevalent in the TV version. Here’s the actor’s broader assessment of what fans can expect from Rag Doll.

He’s a supervillain with extreme flexibility, and unlike other supervillains who want to be the strongest, or have the biggest bone to choose from with the Flash family, this guy is just one psychopath. He commits crimes, but more than that, he plays with his victims. He enjoys causing as much misery as possible. And we see, when he interacts with the Flash family, what happens to cause conflict there.

So while Cicada has some very specific reasons for going after Flash and Vibe and the rest, it looks like Rag Doll might have a different type of dog in this fight. He might be a bit more like a slasher movie antagonist who just wants to cause as much chaos as possible regardless of the casualties. (That mask helps that argument.) And who could say no to a victim like The Flash?

Since Troy James had mentioned an enhancement to Rag Doll’s metapowers, I had to ask if that meant the villain was indeed a metahuman, as opposed to a shine character whose powers came from other sources. In his words:

I believe him. I believe I’m a meta, but there’s a natural ability there too. It is extremely flexible. They call it triple knuckle, but of course that’s not a real life thing. So think of an extremely hyper-mobile person whose flexibility is amplified x100.

In my mind, this could possibly give Rag Doll some of the same weird abilities as Ralph’s elongated powers. In this, RD can possibly bend and mold his body into far more shapes than the average person, even though he literally cannot transform into another person. Maybe more like Plastic-Man than Elongated Man, then.

rag doll the flash tv

When Troy James was cast the flash, I wondered if that meant that Rag Doll wouldn’t need the use of CGI to show its quasi-elasticity. But you can’t really increase a character’s flexibility by 100 without adding some digital magic to the cauldron, can you? James says there is indeed “a bit” of CGI to help things along, but not too much. In his words:

Well, when it comes to CG, there are some things that no human can do. So I am improving a bit. But for the most part, it’s all up to me.

Troy James is somewhat nervous about fans meeting Rag Doll for the first time, but he’s also extremely excited about getting another chance to scare audiences. (Seriously, go watch Channel Zero: The Gate of Dreams waiting for the flash to come back.) Few things are scarier than “the unpredictable”, so we hope the Arrow-The comic version of Rag Doll from Rag Doll Book shineis the scariest villain yet.

the flash will feature Rag Doll on the episode “Doll’d Up” on Tuesday, Nov. 13 at 8:00 p.m. ET, with episodes airing every Tuesday on The CW at the same time. For anyone who needs more shows on the horizon that might bend to a viewer’s will, head over to our fall TV premiere schedule.