DC’s The Flash: How they Should Have Done it

Joe Meola ‘25 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

Enough time has passed since the release of 2023’s DC superhero film The Flash to acknowledge that it was not the saving grace that DC creatives and fans alike had been hoping for for the franchise. It was a financial failure, received incredibly mixed reviews from critics and fans, and ended in a fashion that adds even more confusion to the upcoming reboot of the big-screen DC Universe.

The film is riddled with problems, from lazy writing to poor performance from lead actor Ezra Miller to atrocious CGI, so obviously in an ideal world those should be the first things that need to be “fixed.” However, another major complaint brought forth by fans is that this film fundamentally is not a Flash movie. The film is an adaptation of the “Flashpoint” comic book storyline, which seems to be the only major Flash storyline anyone ever wants to adapt. While the story from this comic is incredible, it should not be the basis of the first Flash film in a universe that is not particularly fleshed out. Both the comic and the film end in the DC Universe being rebooted to some extent, but how can you reboot a universe that is barely even one to begin with? Moreover, the movie isn’t even a good adaptation of the story. Ideally, “Flashpoint” should be adapted as the third installment of a trilogy, or at least the second Flash film. Just please let the Flash actually be the Flash for once. He could train Kid-Flash, fight the Rogues–some of Central City’s most dangerous super-criminals working together as one collective unit–or accidentally stumble upon Gorilla City–a city of super-intelligent gorillas that Flash foe Gorilla Grodd hails from. The possibilities are endless.

Knowing the ever-changing nightmare that is DC Comics’ film division, we were probably only ever going to get one Flash movie in this current mess of a universe regardless of whether or not a reboot was coming, so why not make the most of it? Why not combine iconic elements of the Flash (other than multiverse shenanigans) to give him the adaptation he deserves?

A key element of Flash stories of the modern era is the murder of Barry Allen’s mother, which serves as a driving force for the hero. This element should stay intact, as it was also a plot point of 2017’s Justice League (as well as Zack Snyder’s version of the film). His mother’s murder is what inspired him to join the police force as a forensic scientist, and this job led to him gaining his superpowers. It would be neat to see Barry use his skills and his powers to conduct his own investigation into his mother’s death while also balancing his career, personal life, and his work as the Flash. Barry could also be investigating a string of serial robberies conducted by the Rogues, which could create some physical conflict for the film, perhaps several separate robberies each leading to a one-on-one fight with a member of the Rogues before an eventual final battle between the Flash and the entire team. Furthermore, Barry’s investigation of his mom’s murder could lead to him crossing paths with Eobard Thawne, the Reverse Flash, the man who killed his mother. Thawne could even be the one orchestrating the Rogues’ heists, which would tie both conflicts of the film together nicely. Add in a tiny bit of relationship buildup or drama between Barry and his love interest Iris West, and you have yourself a solid Flash movie.

However, if The Flash HAS to be an adaptation of “Flashpoint,” then you better adapt “Flashpoint.” There are many similarities between the story from the comics and the version we got on the big screen, but 2023’s The Flash is ultimately a hollow adaptation of this story that lacks both the heart and stakes of the original. The movie does not need to be a perfect 1:1 replica of the comic to be a good adaptation, but the movie still needs to be actually good and achieve the same effect as the source material.

Both versions of the story involve Barry Allen going back in time to stop his mother’s death, resulting in the universe itself being rewritten. In the comic, this results in a far more twisted timeline in which the world itself is about to end, whereas in the movie, things are simply different. In the comic, the primary threat is a gruesome war between the nations of Themyscira and Atlantis, led by Wonder Woman and Aquaman respectively, that has ravaged the globe, whereas the film’s main threat is General Zod in the year 2013, when his invasion of Earth in Man of Steel took place, but this time in a universe with no Superman to stop him. Replacing a never-before-seen threat that would be unfathomable in the original timeline with something audiences have seen before and have seen be stopped before eliminates the stakes of the original story. Wonder Woman and Aquaman are both characters whom audiences have been exposed to extensively and who have had various interactions with Barry Allen through their time as members of the Justice League, so their dark turns would be incredibly impactful to this version of Barry Allen. In fact, most of the major players of “Flashpoint” exist in the DCEU, so there is really no excuse not to include them.

A prominent ally in Barry Allen’s journey in “Flashpoint” is Cyborg, who in this world fights crime on behalf of the U.S. government. There has been a lot of conflict between Cyborg actor Ray Fisher and WB executives regarding Fisher’s  on-set abuse during the filming of reshoots for Justice League, so his not being included makes sense, but replacing him with a younger Barry Allen does not. The version of the Flash on the big screen is already relatively young and inexperienced which makes this addition feel incredibly redundant. If anything, Barry should have gained a different companion on his journey who would make sense to include in the context of this universe, such as a de-powered Billy Batson, or a version of Freddy Freeman as the sole holder of the Shazam powers. The Shazam Family does appear in the comics storyline as part of the metahuman resistance against Wonder Woman and Aquaman, but changing Shazam’s role in order to fill Cyborg’s shoes would potentially be a necessary change to make, and it would be a change that could work.

Both versions of the story involve Barry Allen seeking out Batman for aid in this broken timeline, only to be met by a very different Dark Knight. While in the comic Barry Allen makes the horrifying discovery that in this world, Bruce Wayne was shot instead of his parents, (causing Thomas Wayne to become a much more violent iteration of the hero and Martha Wayne to become this world’s version of the Joker), the film sees Barry Allen meet a version of Batman who is simply an older Bruce Wayne… and also played by Michael Keaton, who played the hero in Tim Burton’s Batman films, likely as a way to get more people to buy tickets for the movie. Even more puzzlingly, his version of Gotham is completely free of crime, creating a stark contrast from Thomas Wayne’s Gotham, in which–despite him killing various supervillains–mob activity still flourishes and the Joker is still running around free. Utilizing the Thomas Wayne variation of Batman in the film would further illustrate how broken and twisted the timeline has become,rather than simply “different.”

One change from the film that does work is its use of Supergirl. In the comic, our heroes (Flash, Cyborg, and Thomas Wayne) break into a U.S. government facility to free Superman from captivity, discovering a frail husk of what Barry had once known as the Man of Steel. Meanwhile, the film sees the two Barrys and Batman similarly infiltrating a Siberian prison in search of Superman, only to find the hero’s cousin, Kara Zor-El, sent to Earth to protect her cousin, who ended up not making it. Kara in this film feels like much more of a character than the “Flashpoint” version of Kal-El, and using her in a film adaptation of the story makes perfect sense within the context of the DCEU, as in the main DCEU she never landed on Earth. Furthermore, her discovery that Zod killed her infant cousin is heartbreaking, and her fit of rage toward the villain is well-earned. Something similar could still happen in a more comic accurate “Flashpoint” adaptation. Maybe Kal-El’s pod landed in Themyscira, where he was subsequently killed by Wonder Woman. That would provide Kara with similar motivations and lead to a really cool fight between her and Wonder Woman.

There is a Resistance in the “Flashpoint” universe assembled to combat the globe-spanning war between Atlantis and Themyscira. This group consists of characters like Lois Lane, Steve Trevor, Grifter, Etrigan, and the Enchantress, and are eventually joined by the Shazam Family (AKA Captain Thunder) as well as the main heroes of the story. No such group exists in The Flash, and many of its members do not exist in the DCEU. If this group were to be utilized on the big screen, while Lois Lane and Steve Trevor could remain, other members would likely need to be replaced. This film could use members of the Suicide Squad to fill up this roster, illustrating how messed up this world truly is, as humanity’s last hope is those that Barry knows only as supervillains.

Lastly, the final villain of the comic storyline is ultimately Barry Allen’s rival, the Reverse Flash, who is there to gloat about Barry’s failure and reveal that it was Barry who created the twisted timeline. The film gives us Dark Flash, a twisted future version of the younger Barry Allen variant hellbent on continuously altering the timeline so that he can prevent the deaths of Batman and Supergirl before erasing his own existence by accidentally murdering his younger self. Yeah, replace him with Reverse Flash, please. The finale of the film also sees the multiverse opening up, giving us a plethora of CGI cameos of previous DC actors, including some like George Reeves and Christopher Reeve who are dead, which feels incredibly disrespectful, especially because these cameos are not important to the movie whatsoever. Get rid of the multiverse cameos; they do not add anything to this film.

Ultimately, the Flash movie we got was a massive letdown (although Supergirl was phenomenal in the limited screen time she was given), and these ideas are mere glimpses at what could have been, if only studio executives cared about these properties.

Show More

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button