This Opinion article is part of a Narcity Media series. The views expressed are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Narcity Media.
DC Studios' new superhero film The Flash could have been a disaster — but fortunately for movie fans, we're living in the best possible timeline.
The new flick about the Fastest Man Alive had every excuse to be terrible, what with star Ezra Miller's legal troubles, a decade's worth of delays and creative issues, and a multiverse-hopping script with not just two Batmen, but two Ezra Millers to boot.
There's also no denying the superhero fatigue factor, particularly after a decade of DC and Marvel cranking out new movies every couple of months. I mean, there are only so many times you can watch someone save the world from a giant beam of light in the sky, right?
Here's what to expect from the first feature film about Barry Allen, aka The Flash.
Is 'The Flash' movie good?
Somehow, The Flash overcomes all of the reasons it should've failed to deliver a genuinely fun and emotional time at the movies.
I wouldn't put it among the “greatest superhero movies ever made,” as DC Studios head James Gunn described it earlier this year. However, it’s definitely one of the best things that DC Studios has put out in a decade, in the same conversation as Gunn's own action comedy The Suicide Squad, which didn't get the audience it deserved because of the pandemic.
The Flash director Andy Muschietti pulls off an incredible balancing act with this movie, blending the nostalgia of Tim Burton's Batman with the slow-motion hardcore tone of the “Snyderverse” — the connected universe that started with director Zack Snyder’s Man Of Steel in 2013.
The Flash also shoulders the task of rebooting this superhero universe for the next decade-plus set of movies, as DC Studios is already working on a Superman reboot for next year.
The corporate and in-universe crossovers are enough to make you go crosseyed, especially once you find yourself watching Michael Keaton explain the multiverse with spaghetti in front of two Ezra Millers.
Still, Muschietti makes it work. He keeps The Flash movie focused on our hero, Barry Allen, and doesn't let fan service or nostalgia overwhelm the whole thing.
Yes, there are a lot of superheroes here and an eventual world-killing threat, but all that takes a backseat to a much simpler story: What if you could undo something awful that changed your life?
That’s the core question that Barry (Miller) grapples with when he finds out that he can run back in time and stop his mother’s murder, butterfly effect consequences be damned.
Spoiler alert: he does just that, ignoring advice from Batman No. 1 (Ben Affleck) and accidentally creating a new timeline where his mom is alive but Superman doesn’t exist.
Now, Barry must team up with a younger version of himself, a new Supergirl (Sasha Calle) and Batman No. 2 (Michael Keaton, reprising his role from the 1989 film) to save the world — and his mom.
That mother-son relationship is the beating heart of this movie, and it grounds all the other wild superhero hijinks that we see over the course of the nearly two-and-a-half-hour runtime.
Is Ezra Miller good as The Flash?
Ezra Miller, for all their real-world faults, does a great job playing two versions of Barry, and while this might sound weird, their comedic chemistry with themself is pretty great.
Sasha Calle is a powerhouse in her role as Supergirl, making it a damn shame that we won't get to see her again in the cancelled Batgirl movie that she was a part of.
And then there are the Batmen. Affleck gets a bit of action and a handful of scenes to bid farewell to his version of Batman, whereas we get a whole lot more of Keaton in the Bat cowl in the middle of the film.
Keaton's Batman is understandably older and gruffer, but modern movie-making has this 71-year-old looking faster and stronger than ever in his fight scenes. It also warmed my millennial heart to see the Batcave and the inside of Tim Burton's Wayne Manor again.
You could say this is the best Batman movie since The Dark Knight, and if you enjoyed it, you just might be in for more.
Will Andy Muschietti direct Batman: The Brave And The Bold?
I recently got a chance to ask Flash director Andy Muschietti what he might do with his own version of Batman, given that DC plans to make a Batman: The Brave And The Bold movie in the next few years. This would be in addition to the Robert Pattinson Batman, who won't be hanging out with the new Superman in future movies.
"I don't think I can talk to that... yet," Muschietti said.
He could've simply told me that Batman's great and dodged the question, but that "no comment" certainly says a lot.
If Muschietti does get the keys to the next Batmobile, you can certainly see why with The Flash. For all of it's comic-booky flaws, this movie works — and Muschietti deserves a ton of credit for finishing a job that many others could not.
Why is The Flash movie controversial?
This version of The Flash movie was first announced way back in 2014, when Miller was cast in the role of Barry Allen.
The movie was supposed to come out in 2018 after Miller's debut in Justice League, but it would go through several different directors and versions of the script over the following years. Production hiccups and a lukewarm response to Justice League led to the release date being pushed back several times, with various creative teams taking it over and then abandoning it over time.
Muschietti took over as director in 2019 and production finally went forward, only to be delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Then, with the movie partially shot, Miller was accused of attacking someone at a karaoke bar, holding others at the actor's home in Vermont and terrorizing locals in Hawaii.
And yet The Flash survived. Miller agreed to get help with their personal issues, the film finished production and it's now headed for theatres, though Miller skipped the press tour ahead of release.
The non-binary actor made a single appearance at the premiere on June 11, where they thanked Warner Bros execs for their "grace and discernment and care in the context of my life," per Variety. They also thanked the execs for "bringing this moment to fruition."
With everything that's swirling around Miller, your Flash mileage will probably come down to whether you can separate the art from the artist. For all of Miller's flaws, can you forget about them and focus on Barry (and Barry) for two hours? Can you delight in seeing Batman (and Batman) kicking butt on screen once more? And if you can do all of that, are you willing to do it again for The Flash 2?
What cameos are in The Flash movie?
Consider this your big spoiler alert.
Although The Flash is all about superhero universes colliding, it doesn't hit you over the head with references throughout. Yes, Barry Allen travels back in time to witness the events of 2013's Man Of Steel, so that means seeing Michael Shannon return as the evil General Zod. And yes, he's a member of the Justice League, so we get to see Affleck's Batman and Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman before things get weird.
However, the movie saves most of its deep-cut cameos for moments when Barry is trying to change his own timeline. That's when he's menaced by a dark version of the Flash — and when we get to see him take a peek at other universes where past DC superheroes live.
These scenes feature cameos from the likes of Christopher Reeve (1970s Superman), Linda Lee (1980s Supergirl), Adam West (1960s Batman) and John Wesley Shipp (1990s The Flash).
This isn't an exhaustive list of the cameos, because the version I saw was not the theatrical one. That means there may be a few other Easter eggs in there when you see it in theatres.
The Flash movie review: 8 out of 10
The Flash pulls off a minor miracle by combining superhero universes without falling apart, in a fun buddy-comedy adventure featuring two Barrys and two Batmen.
The Flash opens in theatres on June 16.