Jeff Cassidy, a member of the camera crew on CW’s The Flash, just released a GREAT superhero short via YouTube featuring a motley assortment of familiar faces from the greater Arrowverse and beyond. In SIDEKICK,” you’ll recognize Emily Bett Rickards, aka Felicity from Arrow; Tom Cavanagh, aka Harrison Wells/Reverse-Flash/Harry Wells/Mime Wells etc. from The Flash; and Josh Dallas, aka Prince Charming/David Nolan from Once Upon a Time.
Rickards and Dallas play parents of Christian Michael Cooper’s young boy (who you’ll also see soon in the upcoming Prison Break sequel series) who’ve just received some bad news about the dad’s health.
What we get in the story in two-fold: It’s a heartfelt drama of a family in crisis while also showing us superheroics featuring the same actors, a fantasy that feels like just as much a coping mechanism as it does a delightful daydream of a bedtime story.
Captain Strong (Dallas) is a Superman-esque hero butting heads with his nemesis Darkman (no relation to the Nightman), played by The Flash darling Tom Cavanagh. Darkman has some vaguely defined lightningish powers and also has an assassination droid. Oh, and Captain Strong has a Princess (Rickards) that is always getting captured and then saved at the expense of an always-escaping Darkman. (Heroes can never save the girl and catch the bad guys.) The “superhero” parts are all really derivative, but it functions really well as an emotional storytelling conceit.
Know that the story quickly builds to a final confrontation in which Darkman poisons and kills Captain Strong. The titular Sidekick — named Shockwave — is “small, agile, and able to channel electrostatic energy,” and he shows up just in the nick of time to save the day and accept the torch being passed down to him.
It’s all a rather thinly veiled metaphor for the family’s predicament: a dying father is helpless to protect his family and trying to communicate with a son that might be a bit too young to fully comprehend the implications of their situation. The story has an earnest “you’re the man of the house now” kind of vibe. Everyone is deeply unhappy, but it’s clear that they’re not mad at each other so much as frustrated with what they’re going through.
The short uses some typical superhero tropes and includes some pretty cool uses of choreography and VFX, but its real worth is in how it conveys the emotional value of having heroes that inspire us, making us ultimately realize that sometimes the only heroes we need are the ones staring at us in the mirror.