Batman. Superman. Green Lantern. Wonder Woman. All these characters were my heroes, as I grew up. There were a few Marvel characters thrown in, but the vast majority came from the DC Comics Universe, and I had a reason to love each one. I loved how Batman’s only power was being rich. I wanted to have the morals of Superman (plus flying… who wouldn’t want that?). Green Lantern could make anything with his ring, using only his imagination — with my overactive imagination, the sky was the limit. And Wonder Woman was virtuous, strong and could always make people tell the truth with her lasso.

Among these heroes, The Flash stood out to me, not just for his incredible speed, but because the Scarlet Speedster spoke to me on a deeper level, whether it was Barry Allen or Wally West donning the suit.

Barry possessed a light-hearted and optimistic nature, always finding a silver lining in the darkest of storms. Even his enemies respected him for his likable personality, despite their differences. With his nerdy tendencies and awkwardness, Barry added a relatable touch to his superhero persona. Batman, himself, once admitted that he aspired to be like Barry, if circumstances were different. When Wally West took on the mantle, he brought a comedic flair, using humor as a coping mechanism in the face of the stress that comes with being a hero.

In the DC Extended Universe (DCEU), Ezra Miller portrays Barry Allen, and initially, I had reservations about their casting. Even after watching Justice League, I wasn’t convinced. This portrayal seemed like a mix of Barry and Wally, leaning more toward immaturity, rather than the balance between intelligence and humor that the comic version possessed. I felt that Grant Gustin’s portrayal in the TV version captured the essence of the character more faithfully. Nonetheless, DC and Warner Bros. decided to move forward with Ezra Miller as the lead in their own film.

The Flash, set in the aftermath of Justice League, follows Barry Allen, as he discovers his ability to travel through time. Motivated by a desire to prevent his mother’s murder and his father’s wrongful imprisonment, Barry finds himself trapped in the past after encountering an enigmatic figure in the Speed Force. In this altered timeline devoid of Superman, Wonder Woman, Cyborg and Aquaman, Barry seeks the help of Bruce Wayne (Michael Keaton) and enlists his younger self. However, as General Zod threatens the world, Barry faces decisions that could further fracture time, endangering not only his family, but also billions of lives.

Regarding Ezra Miller, I acknowledge the controversies surrounding them in recent years. However, focusing solely on their performance in The Flash, I must admit that it exceeded my expectations. Miller delivers what could possibly be the best big-screen interpretation of Barry Allen. The character starts off as a whiny hero who feels entitled to better assignments from the Justice League, but as the movie progresses, Barry matures into a stoic, yet light-hearted hero. The decision to have Miller play both a younger and older version of Barry was a wise choice, allowing the older version to grow beyond the immaturity associated with youth. Miller still brought laughs while appearing as a hero, and the emotional scene where Barry meets his mother in the past evoked genuine tears.

Much of the excitement surrounding The Flash centered on Michael Keaton’s return as Batman. Although the film’s title suggests a focus on Barry Allen, the trailers appeared to emphasize Batman as the lead, relegating Barry to a sidekick role. Keaton’s presence drew thunderous applause and cheers from my audience, reflecting the fans’ desire to see him reprise the iconic role. However, making Keaton an alternate-timeline Batman proved to be the right choice. His portrayal of Bruce Wayne captured the intelligence, wit and readiness for justice that we remember from before. Every scene with Keaton is pure gold, making me wish a live-action story based on the Batman Beyond cartoon series would get the green light, where Bruce Wayne (Keaton) has to relinquish the role of Batman, due to his age and a multitude of injuries.

However, The Flash is not without flaws. The CGI in the film is disappointingly subpar. Some effects resembled those seen in low-budget Syfy Channel movies, rather than a major studio production. While I appreciate the use of CGI to incorporate characters from different timelines and the abundance of cameos, the execution fell short. Many character models entered the uncanny valley, creating an uneasy feeling due to slightly off facial features. Several fight scenes were visually confusing, muddled and lacking clarity. This level of animation quality is unexpected from Warner Bros., especially considering the film’s substantial budget of $220 million.

The overall story is an original piece made just for the DCEU. While original, it does still heavily borrow from the comic. The first is a 2011 series called Flashpoint. In this story, Barry finds himself in a world where his mom is still alive, the Justice League doesn’t exist and he does not have his superpowers, much like this movie. He also seeks out the help of Bruce Wayne, only to find that Thomas Wayne, Bruce’s father, is Batman instead. The pair works together to restore his powers, and like The Flash (spoiler alert), it initially leads to Barry being burned.

Other aspects, such as the war ravaging the planet and Barry causing the split in time are somewhat the same, with only the warring factions changing for the film. The same choices Barry must make exist in both stories, putting an emotional spin on this compelling story, that fans have loved for over a decade. Choosing this story and putting tweaks to it was a winning strategy.

In conclusion, The Flash deserves a perfect five out of five stars. Despite the major CGI issues, the film’s storytelling, acting and fan-service cameos compensate for these shortcomings. The decision to downplay Ezra’s role in the film’s marketing, while elevating Michael Keaton, will probably succeed in drawing in viewers who may have been hesitant. It is important to separate the art from the artist, and while I do not condone any actions performed by Ezra Miller, I am solely evaluating their contributions.

The Flash is an action-packed emotional rollercoaster filled with humor, tears and cheers. In my humble opinion, it stands as the best film the DCEU has released.