The Justice League may have been able to defeat Steppenwolf, but they have yet to conquer their struggles with bad press. Despite the massive success of Wonder Woman and her appearance in the Justice League film, the team-up of DC’s top superheroes failed to captivate audiences in the way that Warner Bros. had hoped. While grossing $657,924,295 worldwide is impressive, it fell short of expectations. Not only did it have the lowest domestic opening weekend of the entire franchise, but it also resulted in an estimated $60 million loss for Warner Bros. by the end of its run. Critics didn’t have much praise for it either.
The DC Extended Universe (DCEU) has faced numerous challenges in the last five years, and the future of several upcoming films seems uncertain. One of the highly anticipated movies is the untitled Flash solo movie, which features Ezra Miller as the speedy hero. Although the title of the movie may no longer be Flashpoint, it is expected to draw inspiration from the comic book storyline of the same name and serve as a soft reboot, rewriting the timeline of the DCEU. Many wonder if this would be enough to fix the DC movie universe. In this article, we analyze why the upcoming Flash movie could be the game-changer that the franchise desperately needs.
Classic source material
While it’s uncertain what the future holds for the DCEU, the upcoming Flash movie, which was previously titled Flashpoint, is expected to incorporate elements of the comic book storyline with the same name. This information is according to the official IMDb page, though things may change as the movie’s development progresses.
In 2011, DC Comics introduced the highly successful crossover event called Flashpoint. The story begins with Barry Allen waking up in a different timeline where the US government imprisons Superman, and there’s a war between Atlantis and Themyscira. In this alternate reality, Flash teams up with Thomas Wayne as Batman to rally the remaining heroes and restore the timeline to its original state.
The Flashpoint storyline has already been adapted twice before – in the animated movie “Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox” and in the third season of “The Flash” TV show. While the TV adaptation made significant changes to the original story, the movie stayed faithful to the source material and currently boasts a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Suppose the upcoming big-screen interpretation of Flashpoint can emulate the success of its animated predecessor. In that case, the Flash’s standalone film has the potential to become the best movie in the DCEU thus far.
Ever since Zack Snyder helmed Man of Steel in 2013, he has been a major influence on the DCEU. However, his grim interpretation of the franchise faced criticism from disappointed viewers. While he had his supporters, he is now less involved in the DCEU, making it an opportune moment for a new creative voice to take over.
In January 2018, Walter Hamada was appointed to oversee Warner Bros.’s comic book movie division. A reset inspired by Flashpoint could offer him an opportunity to make his own mark on the franchise alongside creator Geoff Johns and establish a new coherent vision. While DC and Marvel comparisons may not be popular with fans, it’s difficult to ignore the MCU’s success, partly due to executive Kevin Feige’s creative leadership. The constant reshuffling of release dates, creative teams, and projects has damaged the reputation of the DCEU. Rebooting through Flashpoint could allow Warner Bros. to fix this and start afresh, but for this to work, all involved talent must unite under a single creative vision.
A clean slate
Previously, the creative team behind the DCEU made adjustments to their films in response to negative feedback from fans. For instance, the portrayal of Batman in Justice League was noticeably more humorous than the one in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. However, these changes seemed inconsistent with the previous films in the franchise. It’s important for characters to evolve organically rather than simply making changes based on box office performance.
The upcoming Flash movie presents a unique opportunity for the writers to create a new version of the DCEU, allowing them to selectively choose and discard previously established elements without disrupting continuity. Disappointed with Superman’s killing of Zod in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice? The Flash movie could retcon this plot point. Want to see the return of a character who was previously killed off, like Slipknot in Suicide Squad? The Flash movie could easily bring them back without relying on convoluted plot devices.
Naturally, altering continuity in such a manner could prove to be a challenge for casual moviegoers who may not have a deep understanding of every film in the franchise. If not executed properly, the approach could quickly backfire on Warner Bros. Nevertheless, adopting the Flashpoint storyline still appears to be a more viable option than attempting to modify things within the existing continuity and praying that nobody will catch on.
Flash to the rescue
With the exception of Wonder Woman, whose popularity among movie audiences is almost unanimous, the portrayals of Superman and Batman in the DCEU have created division among fans and sparked heated online debates. However, Ezra Miller’s portrayal of the Flash has generally been received more positively.
Assuming Miller’s portrayal of the Flash was well-liked in an ensemble setting, it’s logical to assume that the upcoming solo movie could be even more appealing to his fans. If executed correctly, The Flash could potentially surpass the popularity of Wonder Woman and become a much-needed triumph for the DCEU after the disappointment of Justice League. This success could, in turn, help restore public trust in the franchise.
Restoring the reputation of the DCEU will not only have an impact on fans but also on the franchise’s box office earnings. Although Justice League did not perform well, the popularity of the franchise’s iconic characters still contributed to a significant box office gross. A successful Flash movie could build on this momentum and further increase the franchise’s earnings.
Flash the funnyman
Most criticisms of the DCEU tend to revolve around the notion that films like Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice were overly gloomy and gritty. While some viewers welcomed this as a deliberate contrast to the lighthearted tone of the MCU, others felt it did a disservice to the characters. However, with Wonder Woman, the franchise’s first foray into a brighter, more hopeful territory, the DCEU finally struck gold and scored its first unqualified hit.
Warner Bros. had officially announced their plans to depart from the dark tone of early DCEU movies in response to the success of Wonder Woman, but this approach didn’t work as well for Justice League. The attempt to transform Superman and Batman into lighter, more humorous versions of themselves did not sit well with critics, who found the shift in tone to be unnatural for the characters, given what had been previously established. This shift in tone also resulted in some jarring tonal shifts within the movie itself.
In contrast to the darker tone of earlier DCEU films, The Flash character in Justice League was introduced with a more lighthearted tone, so his upcoming solo film is expected to continue in the same vein. The character’s comedic one-liners and expressive face are expected to provide a natural source of humor, bringing some much-needed levity to the DCEU and adding a refreshing element to the franchise.
Enticing Arrowverse viewers
The Arrowverse is a remarkable achievement, considering the challenge of establishing a shared universe of superhero characters on television. However, DC managed to create just that with shows like Arrow, Supergirl, and Legends of Tomorrow. Among these shows, The Flash consistently remains the most popular one, receiving positive reviews from critics and high ratings from audiences.
The DCEU has yet to showcase any of the primary Arrowverse heroes on the big screen, but that’s all about to change with the upcoming Flash movie. While there may be some disagreement among fans about which version of the Flash is superior, the character’s success on TV is expected to give him an advantage in the theaters.
It’s possible that many fans of the Arrowverse also enjoy the DCEU movies, but The Flash movie could attract even more viewers who have been hesitant to explore the film franchise. If the upcoming movie strikes a balance between humor and darkness, it could also expand the age range of DCEU fans. This is because the Arrowverse tends to be more family-oriented compared to the films.
A bridge between worlds
The Arrowverse is built around the idea of a “multiverse,” which connects various dimensions, each with slight differences. While Supergirl exists in a parallel dimension, which can be accessed through portals, none of the Arrowverse heroes have made an appearance in the DCEU. However, The Flash movie could change that and reveal that both universes exist in the same multiverse. This connection could potentially broaden the DCEU’s audience, particularly the family-friendly Arrowverse fan base. The Flash’s unique ability to traverse different dimensions makes him the ideal character to facilitate this crossover, and if executed correctly, it could be a game-changer for both franchises.
While connecting the Arrowverse and the DCEU through the concept of a “multiverse” sounds exciting, there are a couple of obstacles to consider. For one, the two universes have different tones and budget requirements, making it uncertain whether it’s a good idea to link them. Additionally, legal and logistical issues make it unlikely that such a connection will ever happen. Nevertheless, a cameo appearance from Arrowverse stars in The Flash movie could be a significant event for fans of both franchises and give DC an advantage over Marvel, which has faced difficulties linking its movies and TV shows.
A tradition of successful reboots
Those who oppose the notion of resetting the DCEU via a Flashpoint storyline may want to consider that superhero franchises have been rebooted before with tremendous triumph. For example, the X-Men series frequently adjusts its continuity during its ongoing tale, Christopher Nolan’s trilogy rejuvenated the Batman franchise, and Marvel’s interpretation of Spider-Man, led by Tom Holland, rekindled the character.
Considering the success of other superhero franchise reboots, fans should be open to changes made to the history of the DCEU’s heroes through a new timeline in the upcoming Flash movie. Despite the short time since the DCEU’s inception, Marvel rebooted Spider-Man only three years after The Amazing Spider-Man 2 in 2014. The character found solo success in the Marvel Cinematic Universe after his debut in Captain America: Civil War. Similarly, Ezra Miller’s Flash could also find success while resetting the DCEU’s problematic elements after his well-received appearance in Justice League.
Warner Bros. caused some stir when they revealed plans to release DC movies that are separate from the DCEU. While some hailed it as a bold move for comic book adaptations, others were concerned about its potential to confuse casual fans. It’s not easy to explain to the general audience that movies like the forthcoming Joker flick, set in the 80s, are not part of the same timeline.
The upcoming Flash movie presents an opportunity for Warner Bros. to justify the idea of creating DC movies that are not directly connected to the DCEU by exploring the concept of the multiverse in a logical way that makes sense both within and outside the story. This could help alleviate concerns and confusion among both critics and audiences about the concept of standalone movies within the DC universe. The Flashpoint storyline, which portrays an alternate reality where familiar heroes are placed in unfamiliar situations, could serve as an effective introduction to the “Elseworlds” concept. If the Flashpoint adaptation proves successful, it could pave the way for other “Elseworlds” adaptations, such as a standalone Joker movie, to be explored.
A solution for casting turnover
Many actors have played the iconic characters of Batman and Superman with varying degrees of success. Typically, these roles are replaced either between movie franchises or after a reboot. However, there have been persistent rumors about Ben Affleck leaving his role as Batman in the DCEU, which could lead to another actor being cast as Bruce Wayne. At the same time, the other characters around him will continue to be portrayed by their current actors.
While it may not seem like a bad idea in theory, the introduction of the multiverse concept in the upcoming Flash movie could provide a graceful exit for actors like Affleck who choose to step down from their roles. This way, the continuity of the overall film series will not be affected. Even if other actors in the DCEU decide to leave the franchise due to time constraints or contract expirations, the use of the multiverse concept could allow for a smoother recasting process of key characters, which is not often seen in major Hollywood franchises.