Is it ironic that a movie about the fastest man alive can’t seem to get out of the starting blocks? (I’m not so great at irony, admittedly). In the latest chapter of Warner Bros.’ two-steps forward, one step back approach to superhero filmmaking, a new script has been turned in for DC Comic’s long-suffering The Flash, starring Ezra Miller. Alas, the film feels no closer to being made than when it was first announced, so long ago.
Way back in October 2014, WB studio head, Kevin Tsujihara, announced a 10-film slate of DC Comics’ movies, which included: Batman v Superman, Suicide Squad, Wonder Woman, Justice League 1 & 2, Aquaman, Shazam, Cyborg, Green Lantern, and a sequel to Man of Steel. Several of these projects have come and gone, new films have been added to the list (and at least one removed), while several others just seem to languish, particularly The Flash (originally targeted for a March 2018 release).
Oddly, around the same time as this DC list was announced, The Flash debuted on The CW network as a TV series, to both rave reviews and record viewership. The series is now entering its fourth season (and is part of the broader Arrow-verse of DC shows on The CW, such Arrow, Supergirl, and Legends of Tomorrow). The Flash TV series explores the origin and ongoing mythology of Barry Allen, a big-city CSI cop who gets struck by lightning and becomes the legendary superhero, The Flash, as played to perfection by Grant Gustin (Glee). Given the success of the TV series, it would seem like a no-brainer to translate this material to a big-budget blockbuster film.
Unfortunately, following Tsujihara’s intitial announcement, The Flash‘s development stalled, restarted, stalled again, and then just started over entirely. Along the way multiple directors have come and gone too — the only reason Miller is still involved is that he’s been cast in Justice League (and early indications are that he’s really solid in the role). So, what’s the big problem translating this character to the big screen?
According to Batman-News, back in January of this year, writer Joby Harold (King Arthur) was hired to conduct a page-one rewrite of The Flash, which is Hollywood-speak for “starting over from scratch.” Harold focused on a popular DC Comics’ storyline from 2011: Flashpoint, a massive crossover narrative wherein Allen travels back in time to save his mother from being murdered, forever changing his life (and the lives of everyone else in the world too). In 2013 Flashpoint was adapted as a feature-length, direct-to-video, animated film — The Flashpoint Paradox.
Bob z still being considered but studio will take meetings with other filmmakers, in no rush to make announcement
— Justin Kroll (@krolljvar) September 26, 2017
And here’s where things get a bit weird. During the second season of The CW’s The Flash, a multi-episode adaptation of Flashpoint was also executed; the outcome affected each of the other Arrow-verse shows, to lesser or greater degrees. It wasn’t a terribly successful experiment nor was it particularly well-received by fans. I can’t think of a case where the same story was adapted so many times across so many formats. And yet, here we are adapting the storyline again. Flashpoint is certainly an interesting tale, but does it really warrant this many shots on goal?
A superhero time-travel film sounds great, conceptually. However, all of these DC films are connected, so how will this story affect the other DC movies? Or will they? Honestly, this drama is getting more confusing and complex as it goes.
Does any of this really matter? Maybe I’m being a little pessimistic, because even with a script in-hand, whoever WB hires as director is going to have their own opinions regarding the subject-matter, which is to say that maybe Flashpoint goes away… it’s really anyone’s guess at this point.
The reality is, Justice League hits theaters on November 17, and we’ll all see Miller’s interpretation of The Flash fighting alongside his fellow DC heroes. Justice League is probably going to make a giant pile of money, which implies that The Flash will suddenly be a very high-profile character, in conjunction with the character’s ongoing appeal in TV, video games, and comics.
Unfortunately, it’s also pretty unlikely that The Flash will have a signed director and release date before then. So, we’re probably at least two years out from The Flash, or Flashpoint, or whatever they eventually call this film. Maybe by Justice League 2 we’ll know something definitive.