‘The Flash’ has already had a historically bad run at the box office, but what does it mean for the DCU moving forward?
‘Development Hell’ is the metaphorical phrase used in Hollywood whenever a project gets cleared to be made by a big studio but then takes years (potentially decades) to make. Deadpool was a classic case of this and thanks to Ryan Reynolds and Marvel the movie has already become one of the greatest cult classics of all time. The Flash was another case, with the original idea for the film coming all the way back in 2014 – unfortunately, it doesn’t seem as though The Flash will be making quite the same impact that a movie like Deadpool did.
Despite the negative feedback so far from audiences and critics and disastrous box office results, there’s no denying that The Flash has shaken things up a bit in the DC cinematic universe and has given fans a lot of questions moving forward. After all, the new DCU headed by James Gunn is quickly approaching and it was reported that The Flash was going to reset the DC cinematic timeline. While ‘reset’ may be a bit of a stretch, let’s take a look at what the ending of The Flash means for the DCU and their future.
Events of ‘The Flash’
During the movie, the entire plot revolves around the concept of Barry Allen traveling back in time via the Speed Force in order to try and prevent the death of his mother. Unfortunately, Barry doing this causes a ripple effect of events through time and he returns to a universe where there’s no Wonder Woman, no Aquaman, no Justice League and Batman is played by Michael Keaton (again) instead of Ben Affleck. As the film goes on, Barry encounters other heroes, such as Super Girl (played by Sasha Calle), and introduces the concept of the DC multiverse by showing clips from a variety of other prior DC films and movies (and a couple of notable alternative ones).
At the conclusion of the movie, after a series of events that includes an older version of his past-self trying to kill him while his younger past-self sacrifices himself for him, Barry accepts that changing the past is a mistake and he returns to the original moment his mother dies and lets it happen. However, Barry doesn’t quite learn his lesson and makes a minor adjustment that allows his father to be acquitted of his mother’s murder. Unfortunately, this results in Barry returning to a timeline where Batman still has not returned to being Ben Affleck, but is instead played by George Clooney (also again).
If that summary sounded a tad bit confusing, it’s because it was – most multiverses concepts/plots are. Unfortunately, even with the solidified inclusion of the DC multiverse, The Flash ending absolutely left audiences with a few questions. The first and foremost that fans will need a definitive answer on moving forward is rather apparent – who the hell is Batman?! As stated, the movie included a surplus of different Batmans, with the main ones being played by Ben Affleck, Michael Keaton, and concluding with George Clooney. Obviously long time DC fans know that George Clooney donned the cape and mask back in the 90s, but does his appearance now mean that’s he going to be Batman again in future DC projects? Or was it just a nod to the prior character/actor for long time fans?
The next most daunting question that fans will have moving forward isn’t necessarily anything regarding the plot of The Flash but rather who will be playing the character. After it’s abysmal first two weeks at the box office, it’s safe to say that even the most loyal DC fans are sending a message to the studio that Ezra Miller is no longer the actor they want donning the red spandex. But even so, as it was reported that The Flash was going to completely reset the DC cinematic timeline, it was a little shocking to fans that Ezra was still the character by the end of the movie anyway (especially considering the identity of Batman had changed three times).
A final question that audiences and fans are assuredly asking themselves is where could Barry Allen/The Flash show up in the future – after all, the character didn’t really have much of an affiliation with any of the announced DCU projects that James Gunn has planned. So, with the red speedster making it out of The Flash virtually unscathed, what could his and the DCU’s future actually look like?
How it Changed the DCU/What the Future Looks Like
So The Flash was supposed to be the reset button for the entire DCU and allow James Gunn and his team to come in and revamp the whole damn thing – but did it? Yes, it’s unquestionable that The Flash had major moments and touched on massive ideas that has allowed the DC multiverse to truly come to fruition on the big screen. However, in terms of a full ‘reset’, it definitely left a lot to be desired. Ben Affleck may have been ‘replaced’ as Batman, but it was by two prior Batman actors and everybody knows that George Clooney isn’t going to be the ‘new’ Batman moving forward, especially in the upcoming The Brave and The Bold movie.
Another non-reset was that, again, Ezra Miller still ended the movie as The Flash. Not only did this not adhere to the promise of a full-reset, but it also left a very large door open for Ezra Miller and his version of The Flash to appear in future projects, possibly even the main timeline of the new DCU. Fans are praying that this decision was left open-ended on purpose and that the end events of the The Flash allows for the possibility of a later appearance/cameo. But, given how poorly the movie fared at the box office, it seems more than likely an honest, full-reset of the DCU will be coming in the future.
That doesn’t mean that Ezra or other current DC heroes (like Jason Momoa as Aquaman or Zachary Levi as Shazam) couldn’t make future appearances in a DC Elseworlds project, but don’t bet on it. But as far as the main DCU timeline that James Gunn wants to build, The Flash didn’t really give fans much of an answer for the future.