Photography: Courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures/AP
What a difference a few months make. As recently as September, Andy Muschietti’s The Flash was rumored to be scrapped due to legal and reputational difficulties faced by star Ezra Miller. Flash forward to the present day, and it’s being called one of the greatest superhero movies of all time after a screening for press and theater owners at CinemaCon in Las Vegas this week.
Let’s put that into perspective. According to the assembled geeks (who are only being granted permission to tweet right now), this is a film that could live up to The Dark Knight, the original Superman, Black Panther, Avengers: Endgame and Spider-Man. : Into the Spider-Verse. And it’s made not by all-conquering Marvel, but by Warner Bros.-owned DC.
This is the studio that gave us the original Suicide Squad movie, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Justice League, all movies that made even comic book fans wonder if they really like superhero movies. It comes with a new regime at DC Studios, led by ex-Marvel man James Gunn, with the promise that it will restore the DC multiverse in a way that allows us to forget everything we’ve seen before. Or at least, all the things Gunn doesn’t want to go along with.
The Flash is loosely based on the seminal Flashpoint comic, which saw Barry Allen wake up in an alternate reality where Superman is a frightened weakling, Batman is Thomas Wayne (Bruce’s father), and the Amazons and Atlanteans are destructive forces that seem be engaged in perpetual war. While Muschietti’s film is likely to pick carefully from its source material, we know Miller will play two versions of The Flash (in the comics, the second Flash was the Reverse-Flash; in the film, he’ll be a Flash from an alternate timeline). Michael Keaton will return as the caped crusader, as will Ben Affleck, while Sasha Calle would be a revelation as Kara Zor-El/Supergirl.
A new trailer, released this week with impeccable timing, shows us that the new film will see Allen “break the universe” and change the past. Chances are there will be ramifications for DC that go far beyond what we’ve already seen on the advert ahead of time. Frankly, it looks epic!
The wonderful thing about multiverse movies is that they are primed and ready to explain all kinds of bad planning in the superhero universe (of which there have been Very at DC since 2013’s Man of Steel ushered in the Zack Snyder era) simply as a result of conflicting alternate timelines. Plus, if the new Supergirl ends up wowing audiences, or Michael Shannon’s General Zod gets the opportunity to shake up the DC foundations he should have been given a decade ago, there’s ample opportunity to bring them back in future episodes. Rumor has it that this will be Batfleck’s final turn in the cape and cowl, but if he’s well received, well, there’s no reason it needs to be set in stone. Maybe that sneaky, meat-headed guy with guns from Dawn of Justice was just a Bruce Wayne villain from another universe where everything is front and center and audiences love to show up in their gazillions to watch truly awful movies.
There are other reasons to be cheerful here. If the hype turns out to be true, The Flash may just come up with a much-needed blueprint for how to portray Batman (Batmen?) in ensemble comic book movies, a feat no one has successfully accomplished before (with the possible exception of Snyder’s Justice League director’s cut). Now all we need is for Robert Pattinson’s Dark Knight to show up, and it might be time to really get this superhero party going.