The Final Lap Issue #9: ‘THE FLASH Movie Take 2– Theories, Thoughts and Wants’
With the success of James Wan’s Aquaman, the production of Cathy Yan’s Birds of Prey in full swing, Todd Phillips’ Joker lurking in the background and Patty Jenkins already talking about the 3rd chapter in Wonder Woman’s solo journey; I can’t help but observe The Flash movie with varying degrees of longing and uncertainty. Announced back in 2014 as part of DC’s original film slate through 2020, losing two directors, missing its original release date of early 2018 and Shazam! know closing that original film slate in April; I wonder if this film will be left behind as fragment of the past. My feelings of uncertainty greatly increase as the DC film slots (whether in terms of release or production start date) are suspected to, or have been, filled by other properties as of this issue. With the DCU experiencing its second wind on the shoulders of Aquaman, allow me to share my thoughts on The Flash movie in its current state.
Before we begin this descent into my madness, let me make certain points abundantly clear:
- I want a Flash-centric and lead movie to happen. It would be a dream come true.
- I love Ezra Miller as an actor; but have issues with his decisions or the decisions made for him in regards to his portrayal of Barry Allen (see my thoughts on Justice League’s Barry Allen and why I have problems with it here!)
- I have no allegiances to any filmmaker, screenwriter or continuity; my heart is with The Flash as a character and how I have come to know him throughout multiple mediums.
- Understanding that I will never see my vision of the perfect Flash movie ever come to fruition; I welcome any story presented by a creator that respects the source material, because fans like us can always tell the difference.
The Final Lap Issue #9: The Flash Movie Take 2– Theories, Thoughts and Wants
The “Fantastic Beast” delay and the lack of a production start or release date
Whether its departure of Smith and Famuyima, directors previously attached to the film, Miller’s part in the Fantastic Beast franchise or the work that The Flash script requires; the Flash movie has known nothing but delays for the last 5 years. That said, some believe that there may be a ray of hope on the horizon in the form of the production delay of the third Fantastic Beast film. After the lukewarm reception of The Crimes of Grindelwald (see MFR’s review here!); some wonder if this break in production would make Ezra Miller available to film The Flash with current directors Daley and Goldstein.
The possibility of this coming to pass sounds fascinating, but let’s not forget the most important thing that is still missing to our knowledge; a finished and approved script. Even if the stars align, all the actors and crew are available to start production on the film right away; the fact that the script could not be ready prior to production, would affect my confidence in the project. With all the obstacles that this project has faced along the way, the last thing it needs is for it to be rushed in the end. Understanding that this might mean that we won’t see the movie till probably late 2021 or even 2022; the film would benefit from two directors, writers and production team that love the character enough to take the necessary time to give him his proper day in the sun. The only variable that could influence the Big Heads at WB/DC to give The Flash the green light is if the script is somehow finished in the next couple of months and the Fantastic Beast franchise enters an indefinite hiatus. Though unlikely, one could only hope. Otherwise, I hope they wait.
The Aftershocks produced by the success of The CW’s The Flash
As previously stated by Editor-in-Chief of Revenge of The Fans, MFR, in his DC Whispers report last December; The Flash movie faces one of the biggest challenges other members of the DC pantheon haven’t had to deal with. This challenge is a successful live-action television show that showcases the same character. Though far from perfect, The CW’s The Flash is one of the most watched superhero shows on TV right now, even in its fifth season. This begs the question: Could the show’s success not only pose a creative challenge to the writers; but also suggest to the Big Heads at WB/DC that a Flash movie might not be necessary? With Shazam on route to solidify the DCEU rebirth harpooned by Aquaman and bringing obscure characters to the forefront becoming an attractive direction that WB/DC is already beginning to embrace, I can’t help but think that shelving The Flash has been discussed to a degree.
Like any show on network television that produces 23 episodes each season, The Flash TV show has suffered many stumbles along the way. But what The Flash has gotten right has exceeded expectations. Here are some of the examples of this that can affect or influence the movie’s reception:
- A strong lead in Grant Gustin, Candice Patton and a fantastic supporting cast.
- A great portrayal of The Flash’s wide range of abilities that has captured the imagination of fans.
- One of the strongest live-action pilots in TV history that covers a take in The Flash’s origin story.
- A definitive version of The Reverse-Flash/Eobard Thawne in Tom Cavanagh.
- 5 plus years of The Flash TV establishing this version as The Flash of our generation.
None of the characters already present or that will debut soon in the DCEU have faced or will face the scrutiny that this movie will encounter upon release, which makes the idea of the show being an obstacle plausible. One might say that Superman and Batman have had more exposure than The Flash and most their movies have worked. Though true, may I suggest that this factor has not become a hindrance to these titans thanks to the amount and diversity of said exposure. Pop culture has The CW’s Flash as The Flash of this generation’s zeitgeist; making this take a reference that cannot be ignored. I can see how the Big Heads at WB/DC could see The Flash movie as it being somewhat of a risk in DC’s current state and how if it fails, it could damage what they are trying to rebuild. No matter how incredible Shazam looks, no one can deny that fans and executives are awaiting to see if it will build on Aquaman’s success or break the streak. I expect and hope for the former.
Making The Flash work for the Big Screen
Barry Allen is one of those characters that works remarkably on his own, because like many DC heroes his life has been molded by the traumas that he has experienced. How these characters are shaped by these events, how it fuels their life choices are key to exploring what makes them interesting and appear relatable. In Barry‘s, it was his mother’s murder and father’s incarceration. These moments are what drive Barry into becoming a crime scene investigator to determine the identity of his mother’s killer and prove his father’s innocence. Becoming a CSI for the police, bringing closure to victims and their families, and seeing criminals face true justice would be the only solace for him until discovering the truth of his mother’s case. Considered a loner by most, you can have seen Barry working an excessive amount of hours handling cold cases, honing his skills, getting closer to solving his case. Then, he was struck by lightning.
Though typically seen as a breath of fresh air when around other heroes, Barry does exhibits those characteristic mentioned above in his solo title. Doesn’t he remind you of another acclaimed DC hero? Let’s recap: obsessive, driven, focused, loner, doesn’t stand injustice and workaholic. I don’t know you; but that reminds me of Batman. What if I told you that one of the most successful and interesting DC pairings is that of Batman and The Flash? Why you ask? Apart from the fact that they are among the most brilliant detectives in all of DC Comics; the similarity of their childhood traumas allow them to relate to each other in a unique way. Now, what if we treated The Flash movie like a Batman story? What If the movie focused itself more on mystery and crime solving elements of Flash stories? It doesn’t have to be lighter or campier; rather, it should be intriguing and grounded in its narrative.
Does this means that I want The Flash Begins. By no means, The Flash is not Batman; but it should be done with the seriousness with which Nolan made Batman Begins. Here are the beats and elements that I would consider essential for The Flash succeed:
- Glimpses of Barry’s life throughout the movie (moments with his mom, moments in the police academy, moments testing his powers)
- Make the movie a solo-Barry story. Just like Begins, keep the supporting cast to a minimum to prioritize the development of the hero throughout. This can be one of the aspects that will greatly differentiate the movie from the show; since the show prioritized the team from the very beginning.
- Dive head-first into the science fiction aspects in the comics (show him working on cases in the CSI labs, display his genius, show him building the suit -searching for the materials, how the environment and different metals react to his powers, etc)
- Do not focus on the Iris-Barry relationship; leave that for sequel territory. Develop Iris as a character in her own right, which would allow for a greater payoff in the future.
- The villain should have a personal connection to Barry or to a case he has been working on that has becomes personal.
- Start the movie similar to Spider-Man: into the Spidervese, The Flash has been a hero for at least a year or two. The movie should be his first encounter with a Big-League villain (The Reverse-Flash, Thinker or The Rogues)
Soft Reboot or Hard Reset/Recast?
If you have read Issue #4 of this column, you know that I love Ezra Miller and that I believe that we have are blessed to be able to call an actor of that caliber our Barry Allen/The Flash. Sadly, what he was given to work with in Justice League left much to be desired. It’s crazy to think that I enjoyed him more as The Flash in the seconds that he was in Suicide Squad than what I saw in JL. Which leads me to this thought: I wouldn’t want Ezra recast if the movie acts as a soft reboot for the character and franchise within the DCEU. To think that Ezra will be given a better script and time to reinvent his Barry to one closer to the source material, would bring a smile to my face. Yet, there is always the possibility that his Barry was what we got in Justice League and all the character choices were his. If this is the case, I will struggle with it; but I am willing to give it a chance.
Now, with the ever-changing DC landscape, a hard reboot of The Flash within the DCEU could be considered. The vision that I shared for my ideal Flash movie works better within this setting. With the studios’ emphasis on solo movies within a loosely-connected shared universe; a new actor portraying Barry Allen/The Flash could be introduced during our first visit to Central City and would be easily accepted by general audiences, especially with how forgettable Justice League was. Could it be that the previous directors left the project due to the lack of freedom to pick their Flash and/or how connected the story of their film needed to be to Snyder’s or the studios vision? Is it possible that Daley and Goldstein pulled a Reeves and did not sign the dotted line until they were ensured creative control? If the latter is true at all, may the delays be ever in our favor.
The fact that you have read to the end of this issue tells me that I am not alone in my concerns and ramblings. The consensus among fans remains the same: we simply want good movies. Movies with something to say and with heart; and if anyone symbolizes heart and hope, it’s Barry Allen. Though I talked a lot about Barry’s trauma and heartache; he is one of the few heroes that has found the strength to smile and live out life to the fullest beyond the tragedies that has experienced. He is a character that show us that though life is chaos, it can be enjoyed in the simplest of moments and in being the best that on can be for the world. He deserves a movie worthy of the hero he inspires us to be, whether at normal or super-speed.
Thanks for reading and as always, see you at the finish line,
The Scarlet Fan