Fans following the scarlet speedster across all media might get a sense of deja vu watching DC Studios’ The Flash, loosely adapting elements of the Flashpoint comic book crossover story published in 2011, which was already adapted into a direct-to-video animated feature Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox (2013) and in the third season of Arrowverse’s The Flash (2016) TV series. Still, experiencing Barry Allen’s grief the fourth time around is cathartic and worth the watch.
The common denominator in all three stories: Barry (Ezra Miller) goes back to the past to save his mother, Nora, from being killed, ultimately creating a new timeline where nearly everything is upside down. Like the aforementioned comics event that rebooted the DC Comics publishing line with younger iterations of the characters under the New 52 banner, DC Studios’ The Flash ushers in a new era under the co-leadership of James Gunn of Guardians of the Galaxy fame; and Peter Safran, who produced The Conjuring Universe films and some relatively successful DC superhero movies. Gunn has written a script already for Superman: Legacy, starring cub reporter Clark Kent in his early 20s, and is on the lookout for a younger actor to replace Henry Cavill.
The Flash movie then presents the opportunity to hit the refresh button while respecting the continuity started by Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel (2013), the first movie under the DC Extended Universe brand. However, it is hard not to avoid the elephant in the room in the context of why DC Studios is moving away from the Snyderverse. When Snyder had to exit Justice League (2017) due to a family tragedy, his replacement director Joss Whedon was eventually accused of abuse by Cyborg actor Ray Fisher, which The Avengers director denied. Due to public demand, a Snydercut of Justice League was also released on HBO MAX and HBO GO in Asia in 2021, polarizing the fandom more with two versions of the film.
Then there’s Miller facing a string of criminal cases ahead of the release of the movie. It is now easy to understand why Miller opted not to do press junkets so people can focus on the film. The Flash is a solid science fiction movie that also serves as a love letter for DC fans of all generations.
Miller does a fine job in portraying two Barry Allens—one at different stages of grief. Filming two characters for the same sequence and reshoots can be physically exhausting yet they deliver. In this case, the pronoun they not only refers to Miller’s non-binary gender identity but also their dual role in the movie.
Emmy-nominated soap opera actress Sasha Calle (The Young and the Restless) is so perfectly cast as Kara Zor-El aka Supergirl. Too bad she does not get that much screen time but whenever she appears, Calle carries the sheer ferocity of a Kryptonian who suffered a great loss. The sad part is it is unlikely we see this brunette Supergirl again in the near future because of Gunn’s Superman reboot film.
Michael Keaton is arguably the most exciting part of the film, reprising his titular role from Batman (1989) and Batman Returns (1992). His departure from the character involved some drama too. Keaton left the film franchise due to creative differences with the third film’s director Joel Schumacher, who wanted to move away from the serious tone of the previous Tim Burton-helmed films.
Keaton has appeared as The Vulture in Marvel Studios’ Spider-Man: Homecoming (2019) and Morbius (2022), yet you can’t deny the magic of seeing him go nuts as Gotham’s Dark Knight. Prior to the casting, fans have clamored for him to portray Thomas Wayne, the Flashpoint’s version of Batman. In the comics’ altered history, Thomas became Batman while his wife Martha became the Joker, after seeing their son Bruce shot by a thief in Crime Alley.
While it is enjoyable to see Keaton back in Bat-duds, the source material is much more interesting and could have added more depth to the story rather than relying heavily on people’s nostalgia.
The CGI may not also be everyone’s cup of tea but it is an interesting visual take to represent how time travel can cause ripples not only in the future but everything that has come before. As multiversal stories are all the rage right now, the aesthetics of chromospheres stand apart from the Spider-Verse and the ongoing Marvel Studios’ Multiverse Saga.
Not a tad too long, The Flash is a fantastic bookend to the Snyderverse, honoring DC characters old and new, and even those that got stuck in development hell fighting a giant spider. The movie is meta and self-aware of the challenges the studio faced in bringing superheroes to life.
Amid the cameos and easter eggs for DC fans is a grounded story on loss and second chances.
The Flash is telling us we can’t save everyone—may it be a long-deceased loved one or an imploding superhero franchise. The only way to go is to move on.
The Flash opens on Wednesday, June 14 in Philippine theaters. Watch the trailer below.