The Flash has been a long time coming for DC fans, especially now that we’ve said goodbye to the hit CW series starring Grant Gustin as Barry Allen. We were first introduced to this Barry Allen, played by the legally troubled Ezra Miller, in the 2016 film Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice before having a bigger role in both versions of Justice League. I always felt that Miller was miscast and this pretty much cemented it for me. The best parts of the film are the countless cameos and character returns, especially Michael Keaton’s return to the big screen as Bruce Wayne/Batman.
The Flash essentially follows the classic Flashpoint storyline from the comics: Barry Allen travels back in time to save his mother and creates an alternate timeline. In this version, he creates a world without metahumans and brings about the return of General Zod (played by Michael Shannon) in the process. Barry has to team up with a younger version of himself, Keaton’s Batman, and newcomer Sasha Calle as Supergirl in order to restore the timeline and multiverse back to how it was.
My biggest critique of the film is the casting, particularly of Barry Allen. I’ve enjoyed Ezra Miller in some other films (The Perks of Being a Wallflower comes to mind) but I do not like them as Barry. Miller doesn’t play Barry like a real person to me; their acting is almost cartoon-like, from the bits with them eating to the way they move their arms while they run. Miller also has zero chemistry with Kiersey Clemons as Iris West, which is a problem with one of the most iconic DC couples on the big screen. Clemons does her best to make a connection with Miller, but it just isn’t there and it needed to be.
I understand why they had Barry team up with a younger version of himself, but Young Barry was even more exhausting than regular Barry. He’s obnoxious and childlike, which comes off as weird for someone who’s supposed to be a freshman in college. Making Young Barry more annoying than regular Barry made his attempt at acting like a mature adult feel forced.
It also bothered me what they did with Sasha Calle’s Supergirl, especially after making a big deal about casting her as a Latina/unknown. Calle did a good job with what she was given (which wasn’t much, unfortunately) and I hope somehow we can see her as Supergirl again. Of the supporting cast, Michael Keaton was the absolute standout. It was awesome getting to see him back in the suit again and fill the mentor role for Barry while also getting to say some iconic lines in the process.
Overall, I would recommend seeing The Flash in theaters for the spectacle and cameos (some incredibly surprising and unexpected), but that’s about it. The plot is nothing we haven’t seen before, especially for fans of the CW series. Ezra Miller is the weakest link in this film as both versions of Barry and is lucky to be surrounded by Michael Keaton and Sasha Calle to help make Barry more likable/tolerable.
I hope now that the DCU is “reset”, we’ll get a new version of the Flash, whether it be Grant Gustin as Barry or someone new playing Wally West as the Flash (Walker Scobell from The Adam Project comes to mind). There are many actors out there who could play Barry Allen; I just hope James Gunn is willing to find them.