I’m a card-carrying, lifelong fan of DC Comics… well, I was, before The New 52 shook things up, and then I bailed. Batman was my all-time favorite character and will probably always overlook every other superhero out there. During my formative years, I collected so many great comics depicting the Dark Night Detective, and then Batman: The Animated Series elevated the character’s cache even further. But it was Tim Burton’s adaptation that was the topper for me.
Now, there’s been numerous hit-or-miss adaptations appearing on the big screen throughout the past 34 years, but Michael Keaton will always be MY Batman.
Via numerous iterations, The Flash was always a secondary character to me, usually playing the comic relief to my Caped Crusader. It wasn’t until the short-lived 1990 CBS series starring John Wesley Shipp that I finally started appreciating Barry Allen, but I pretty much checked out of DC‘s small-screen heroes with its cancellation, eventually bringing my love for those characters into movie theaters. While the Arrowverse would later bring more layers to the Scarlet Speedster, I had even higher hopes for a blockbuster Justice League.
Looking back, that really should’ve been the building block to the DC Extended Universe, but its franchise prospects fizzled out before it could really get started. Whether it was due to Warner Bros. execs demanding too many notes, poor writing or simply cramming too many plot devices into one storyline, the actors involved shouldn’t have received the majority of the blame (although they did). I was — and still am — a fan of Batfleck, I want more Momoa and Gadot was good, if not exactly Amazonian. Zack Snyder’s run was ruined by the unnecessary darkness he brought to the DCEU. The filmmaker really should’ve gotten the true opportunity to build meaningful backstories before cramming everyone all together.
His Justice League director’s cut proved too little, too late. And finally, The Flash makes its debut this week with one of Snyder’s actors. But after watching the film, I don’t understand why it wasn’t actually released five years ago.
In this modern-day story, Barry (played by Ezra Miller), feels underappreciated by Bruce Wayne (Affleck’s final portrayal) and Diana Prince (Gadot) — and rightfully so. Not exactly living his best life, he’s bummed out by his father’s false imprisonment and the death of his mother. Accidentally, in a fit of rage, he discovers that his connection to the Speed Force allows him to run so fast, he can time travel. Unsure of his new-found abilities, he knows he can right the past wrongs in his life, but will he actually destroy everyone else’s world?
To be honest, it’s a pretty great adapted storyline. While I may have missed out on the 2011 Flashpoint crossover comic, I was incredibly impressed with the animated Flashpoint Paradox back in 2013. Many will simply assume this take absolutely rips off Marvel’s miraculous No Way Home, but they’d be grossly mistaken. Thankfully, the multiverse isn’t a concept possessed by only one film franchise.
This self-aware story is totally a DCEU homage, but with a twist. Nostalgia is a powerful storyteller (Danny Elfman’s score really brings me back), something Andy and Barbara Muschietti obviously know all too well. The brother-sister filmmakers should be striking box-office gold by placing the cowl back onto Keaton in one last blaze of glory, if not for the actions of one non-binary actor. Their privileged, ungrateful and unruly antics almost singlehandedly canceled any chance this release would have to make back its money. But the truth is, this film was never threatened to be tossed.
With James Gunn given the keys to the superhero kingdom, the filmmaker needed a way to hit reset, going forward with a younger batch of all stars. This film, actually, does that. While it does not really introduce anyone to build a future with, it does lay the groundwork for future franchise entries, without having any complicated storyline connections. The Flash provides a soft reboot for DC Entertainment.
Not exactly a standalone backstory, the highlight of the film is definitely seeing Keaton back in the saddle. He does manage to steal much of the movie’s buzz from Miller — and rightfully so — but I was surprised by Ezra’s genuine performance. I did care about the character, once the end credits rolled, much to my chagrin. I didn’t want to encourage the actor’s real-life bad behavior, but I don’t want the Muschietti’s work here to be in vain, here.
And it won’t be.
Warner Bros. salvaged the film amongst its cost-cutting scrapings last year (Batgirl, we hardly knew ya), and this wide release proves the studio wants to stay in business with the brother-sister combo. After their initial success with It Part One, and to a lesser extent, Chapter Two, the studio recently gave the green light for the filmmakers to topline the upcoming Batman reboot, The Brave and the Bold (Back in the day, I loved those team-up comics so much!).
Change is seemingly inevitable… even for superheroes. Hopefully, past mistakes won’t return for this series of superheroes. I’m pulling for the Muschiettis and eventually the new ensemble casts. DC deserves to have a strong cinematic universe to rival that of Marvel, as well as the various startups that are being brought to the big screen.
Adapting a great storyline, I just don’t understand why The Flash wasn’t adapted five years ago!