The Final Lap Issue #4: Thoughts On The DCU’s THE FLASH Solo Film
The fated week for geek properties galore has arrived as San Diego Comic-Com prepares to entertain and amaze hordes of fans of all shapes and sizes. Hosted at the San Diego Convention Center at San Diego, California, it is in these halls that the biggest announcements and revelations in regards to future projects concerning your favorite television, movies, comics and more will be presented throughout the next couple of days.
It was in a setting similar to this one that WB/DC announced a slate of films back in 2014 and, sadly, we know how that ended. Some movies were produced and released to poor reviews. Others ended up being removed from the slate entirely. Then there were those films that were riddled with troubles. The Flash solo movie is one of those films.
Struggling to keep its directors, going from one clear synopsis though ill-conceived (check out my thoughts on why is early for Flashpoint) to vague references about a possible story that still includes dense subject matter and an uncertainty on which cast members will stay are only some of the issues that have plagued the production of The Flash in the last four years. That being said, with certain developments surrounding the film (the acquisition of directors Daley and Goldstein, production designer Mark Digby) months prior to Comic-con and Hamada showing fans with the direction in which he is steering the SSS WB/DC, excitement and expectation are the highest they have ever been in the hearts of DC fans, mine included.
I can finally say that it seems that the DCU is being lead to the promised land by Hamada. The Aquaman poster looks phenomenal, its trailer is almost here and the new stills from Shazam look awesome. Saturday cannot get here soon enough and with rumors suggesting that production on The Flash might start later this year for a possible 2020 release date; it would be a breath of fresh air if we could receive an update of some kind during Saturday’s DC films panel about the state of the film. So, as we calmly wait for Saturday arrive and hope that the rumors about Ezra Miller being part of the DC panel are true, it seemed fitting to take advantage of this week’s edition to share my thoughts on Ezra Miller as The Flash, his portrayal during Justice League and certain points that the future film needs to address when it debuts.
Thoughts on Ezra Miller’s Performance and Issues with DCU’s Barry Allen/The Flash
The very first thing I want to make clear as I begin to write this portion is this: I LOVE EZRA MILLER AS AN ACTOR. We could not ask for a better actor to play The Scarlet Speedster. He has the chops, the range and he can definitely pull off the physicality that is required for the role. More importantly, those that have seen Ezra Miller in conventions know that he is a fan just like us. Which leads me to deduce that he respects the material and understands how important this character is to a lot of people. It is for this reason that his portrayal of Barry Allen/The Flash bothers me. Without tossing tables and destroying computers a la Arthur Curry, allow me to explain.
We first see glimpses of Ezra’s version of Barry during Batman v Superman. Being that these snippets feel random and far between, we can’t really use them as a means to build an argument. Let’s move on. Our second exposure to his portrayal is during that one-shot during Suicide Squad, where The Flash apprehends Capt. Boomerang. Fun, confident, courageous and awesome. It is also the first time that we see a little bit of his Speed Force sparks and it was great. But then, Justice League happened. We find Barry visiting his dad in jail. Henry, Barry’s father, insists that he give up his search for his mother’s killer, that he forget him, get a real job and begin living a fulfilling life.
Apparently, Barry has been bouncing off odd jobs aimlessly ever since graduating with a criminal justice degree. Then, when Bruce Wayne finds Barry Allen in his secret hideout, Barry is found to be this lighthearted, lonely kid that desires validation and acceptance from his peers. He chooses to join the League as a means to make friends and save the world. Two birds with one stone, right? It might sound that I am nitpicking or being critical to some, but trust me when I tell you that is NOT the case. The Barry Allen that Ezra was given to play was not “comic book” Barry Allen, but an original creation for Justice League.
Instead of presenting an original, yet faithful portrayal of The Flash, the world was presented with a version whose sole purpose was that of comedic banter and cool CG. What irks me is that with an actor of the caliber of Ezra; DC could have had their cake and eat it too! Apart from highliting that he is smart, the character presented in Justice League was but a shell of the hero that we fans of The Flash love.
All the character traits that make Barry Allen and his story unique could have been used to great effect, if only the writers would have paid closer attention to the essence of the character. Barry Allen is a person that is driven and focused. He is driven by the circumstances surrounding his mother’s death and his search for answers lead him into becoming a crime scene investigator with the goal of one day clearing his dad’s name and help others in need. It is this zeal for justice that makes him a hero. The hope of seeing his dad walk out of jail a free man is what instills in him the hopeful outlook on life that Barry is known for. Helping victims like himself is part of the reason he became a cop and CSI.
Barry Allen was this person BEFORE being struck by lighting.
JL undermined these aspects by focusing on his powers and using him as comic relief. I understand that this wasn’t a Flash solo movie, but a team-up shouldn’t sacrifice the integrity of individual characters simply because you need to fill role within a film. The Flash would not have been scared of parademons, he would have recognized that his abilities allowed him to help the people that were being held captive and he would have save them in a flash. As you can see, my issues are not with Ezra; but mainly with the material and direction that he was given. Am I trying to say that The Flash can’t be a funny character? No, of course not. My issue is that those in charge of JL chose to sacrifice Barry Allen/The Flash as a character in favor of whatever we got during the movie just for laughs. The Flash is not a hero because of the bolt of lightning, but because of who Barry Allen was prior to the thunderstorm and JL focused on the bolt and not the man.
Regarding The Flash Film
Directors Daley and Goldstein have hinted at time-travel as a theme for The Flash movie by mentioning that they are looking at films like Back to the Future as inspiration for the film’s plot and story. Though it relieves me to know that chances are that they have moved away from the Flashpoint storyline, part of me still believes that time-travel for a Flash movie is still sequel territory. There is so much of the Flash’s mythology that can be explored in very satisfying ways without time-travel: his first big bout with The Rogues (Captain Cold, Heat Wave, Weather Wizard, etc…), Gorilla Grodd and my favorite, The Reverse-Flash, among others.
And before you scream: “But Brandon, The Reverse-Flash comes from the future. You said no time-travel.” Just because you introduce the Reverse-Flash, doesn’t mean there has to be time-travel.
You can hint at time-travel for future movies without necessarily using it as a plot device. No one really knows how big of a role the concept of time-travel will factor into the film’s plot; but if it were up to me, I would leave it alone for now and focus on world-building and character development. Time-travel can make or break a story and all I want is just a good Flash movie.
Now the biggest challenge that the new directors have in front of them is reconstructing the character of Barry Allen for this new film. With the poor handling of the character during JL, Daley and Goldstein have only two options: built upon JL’s version or try to “soft reboot” the character. Since the movie will pick up right after Barry accepted the job at the crime lab, I hope the directors go for the latter option since they have the opportunity to reintroduce Barry’s search for answers in regarding his mother’s murder and reiterate how this moment has come to define who he is with the backdrop of his job as a CSI.
If they take the time to traverse through the more tragic aspects of the character, it will make the moments were he manifest that hopeful and courageous spirit that The Flash is known for much more rewarding. In a superhero movie, iconic moments need to be earned and that only happens when you build your characters towards those moments.
My concern is that they attempt to double down on what JL set up even though it’s a broken foundation. In my heart of hearts, the directors find a way to reinvigorate Ezra‘s Barry with a strong story that shines on what makes him unique and give audiences more of what they liked about him in JL. I feel the need to mention this because that is one of the biggest surprises that I get whenever I talk with members of the general audience about The Flash in JL. People like the character and Ezra in the role. My concern is that by simply focusing on giving people more of what they enjoyed, we lose the opportunity of seeing a great Flash movie on the big screen. I may overreacting, I know, but its undeniable that the creative team on The Flash film has their work cut out for them.
Don’t get me wrong, I am nothing but hopeful for The Flash film’s production because Walter Hamada has not steered us wrong so far. Also, with the current directors’ pedigree (writers/Spider-Man: Homecoming, directors/Game Night), I am cautiously optimistic and looking forward to hearing good news about the film soon. Now, those that know me or have followed The Final Lap from the beginning know that I am a theorist and with so much information about the movie still unknown, I thought it be fitting for me to share with you my take on a Flash solo film. If I had the privilege to be in that writer’s room, this would be my pitch:
“Barry Allen is becoming more in tune with his abilities as he continues to test his limits while keeping Central City safe both as a CSI for the CCPD and the superhero known as The Flash. While investigating a recent robbery involving dangerous technology, Barry enlist the help of his new friend and journalist, Iris West, as they try to find out who is equipping local criminals with high-tech weapons. The plot thickens as rivals such as Leonard Snart, Mick Rory, Mark Mardon, among others come together and reinvent themselves as The Rogues with their sights on taking control of everything around them. Is The Flash fast enough to stop them and save the city? With evil lurking in the shadows, surrounded in red lightning and The Rogues raising havoc in Central City, it is up the The Flash to show the world why he is the Fastest Man Alive!”
The Rogues, Iris, an interesting crime investigation and the Crimsom Comet running to save Central City? Sounds like a great Flash story to me.
But what do You think? What are your thoughts on Ezra Miller’s take on Barry Allen? What did you like or didn’t like? What does your perfect Flash movie look like and what news from Comic-Con would keep you at ease?
Let me know what you think in the comments below or find me on Twitter @LexanAlvarado
I really look forward to hearing your thoughts and can’t wait to talk some more The Flash with y’all!
And as always, I’ll see you at the finish line,
-Brandon Alvarado, The Scarlet Fan