After many delays, The Flash movie arrives too late to the party. Here is a film that wants to adapt the iconic Flashpoint comic book event and bleed together a DC multiverse. While it does have its moments of charm, the mechanical nature can be felt throughout a picture strewn with cameos and quips.
The World of Flash
Having first been introduced in 2017’s Justice League, Barry Allen (Ezra Miller) seems to have come into his own as The Flash. The speedster has the public’s adoration but also the irritation of the Justice League. Flash is usually called for cleaning up collateral damage when there’s a threat to the world.
Foremost on Flash’s mind is trying to prove his dad’s innocence in the case of his mother’s death. Angry and desperate for a better life with his parents, Barry soon discovers he can travel back in time. With this power, he could save his mother but also doom the timeline.
Blasts From Pasts
Barry’s time tampering leads to him crossing paths with his younger self before attaining powers. This leads to some solid silliness and meaningful interactions of Barry trying to reform himself. It also leads to the older Barry losing his speed powers, meaning Barry will have to play ball with the cards he is dealt.
Heroes change, as with an older Batman (Michael Keaton) and swapping out of Superman for Supergirl (Sasha Calle). Events arrive earlier than expected, as General Zod (Michael Shannon) enacts his plans for Earth terraforming years before the events of Man of Steel. All of this leads to Barry making a mad dash to repair the timeline and becoming bitter about abusing the speed force.
Trying To Have Fun
The Flash comics have continuously aired between the realms of Barry’s quick charm and the darker depths of his powers and pathos. The film sometimes gets this balance working. The tone is at its finest with dueling Barry’s, presenting a perfect mixture of a seriously worried Barry of the future and an obnoxiously impressed Barry of the past.
The opening sequence of Barry saving a hospital with a baby ward flying out the window is neat. It does an ample job displaying the mechanics of The Flash’s powers while showcasing the strangeness that comes with zooming falling babies to safety. Scenes like that are surprisingly adorable in their absurdity, even if Barry can’t quite stick a landing punchline.
A Mess of Cameos
As with the current trend of superhero cinema tapping into the multiverse, this time-altering adventure comes loaded with cameos. This goes beyond the actors we’ve come to expect from the DCEU or the past iteration of Batman teased in the trailer. Although it should be noted, a heavy level of Batman nostalgia is at play, complete with the Danny Elfman score and iconic lines re-read by an older Keaton.
So many of the familiar faces are trotted out in this film but rarely used cleverly. Many are just digitally inserted into the film and held silent for the expected applause. There’s an uncomfortable silence to these moments that speaks volumes for how unenthused this tapping of the past becomes.
A Greater Allegory
Amid this visual feast of speed, punches, and timeline altering is a decent theme of trying not to repair the past. This sentiment is initially echoed by Flash’s Batman (Ben Affleck), but it’s a lesson Barry needs to learn the hard way. But there’s another way to read this.
Other multiverse movies have tapped into a sense of going against convention and not accepting a dismal fate. The Flash embraces past scars as something that can’t be undone. It reflects how much the DCEU has become a mess and how it needs to shed most of the Snyderverse.
This aspect becomes hard not to see with everything that transpires with Flash’s adventure. This rings especially true for the post-credit scene. It seems like it’s trying to tease the upcoming Aquaman sequel, but it reads more like how willing Warner Bros is to dump this last picture of a failed era of DC Comics movies.
Conclusion: The Flash
The Flash comes so close to being the fun type of movie the DCEU has been aiming for. Compounded by the complications of the production and the concerning criminal reclusive of Ezra Miller, it’s astounding that the film managed to turn out as well as it did. And by well, I mean it wasn’t a thematic disaster or bogged down by wonky special effects.
The whole experience plays like a great superhero movie that keeps tripping over itself, stumbling hard into lukewarm territory. It’s a reminder of the limitations established by the Snyderverse. When a Flash movie features appearances by multiple Batman iterations and various Justice League members with little thrill, it’s time to change for the better.
Did you see The Flash? How does it rank compared to other DC Comics movies? Let us know in the comments below.
The Flash will be playing in theaters on June 16th, 2023.