No, The Flash Doesn’t Really Reset The DC Universe

The Flash has been under intense scrutiny for over a year due to various legal incidents involving star Ezra Miller. The actor has been arrested twice in Hawaii for harassment and assault, pleaded guilty to trespassing after being charged with burglary, and was charged with grooming a minor, among other incidents. The minor in question, now of age, disputes the allegation of grooming. In August 2022, Miller announced he was seeking treatment for “complex mental health issues”. Later, in January, the Flash studio Warner Bros. announced that he was supporting the actor. You can read more about the issues surrounding Miller here.

DC’s attempt to copy Marvel’s box office dominance with a shared universe of its own has been off the rails for far longer than it was – if indeed it ever really was – and The Flash has long been speculated as a way to soft reboot the overall franchise using time travel. And even after seeing the movie, you might be tempted to think that’s what happened here.

But you would be wrong. Probably.

Warning: This article contains all of The Flash’s biggest spoilers.

The basic recap of The Flash goes like this: After heroically rescuing a dozen babies who had fallen from a hospital window, Barry Allen levels up and can now run so fast he goes back in time. He therefore returns to his own childhood and prevents his mother from dying, then tries to return to the present. But he doesn’t quite seem to make it — then a shadowy figure drags him out of the Speed ​​Force and brings him back to reality.

He is in the past, during the time of the events of Man of Steel. General Zod shows up looking for a missing Kryptonian – Kara, aka Supergirl, in this universe – and otherwise, no superhero could stand a chance of standing up to Zod and his minions. No Wonder Woman, no Aquaman, no Cyborg. And no Flash, since this young Barry was going to have a date with Iris West instead of being where he gets his powers. But Old Barry fixes that.

So in the battle against Zod and the other Kryptonians, we have two Flashes (one of whom is brand new), a Supergirl who has been in Russian prison for a long time, and a Batman who is decades older than the one Barry knew. .

The good guys don’t win this one. Zod kills Supergirl, Batman crushes the Batwing and explodes, and Younger Barry decides to try time travel. But nothing he does works. Supergirl is still dying and Zod is still killing everyone on Earth. Young Barry tries for a very long time, however – long enough for every universe’s entire reality to begin to crumble, as we see demonstrated by goofy CGI orbs, full of former Batmans and Superpeople, crashing into each other. in others in speed Force.

Our Principal Barry begs Other Barry to stop, but he doesn’t listen. Eventually, however, another version of this Alt-Barry, from the beginning of his endless cycle of failing to stop Zod, appears in the Speed ​​Force, hears these calls, and emerges his old self. This kills all versions of Barry from this non-Justice League universe and allows Zod to extinguish the entire human race in this universe. And with no one left to try to save, Barry is free to try and return to his old timeline.

It initially looks like he may have made it, but the cracks show pretty quickly: his father, in jail for allegedly killing Barry’s mother, wins his appeal based on evidence that didn’t exist in the film. old chronology. And then, when Barry tries to chat with his old friend Bruce Wayne, he finds he’s definitely still not home. Because in this universe, George Clooney is Batman.

Pictures from Warner Bros.
Pictures from Warner Bros.

The post-credits scene gives us one more major nugget of information: Aquaman exists here, and he’s exactly the same as the Aquaman we already knew.

It’s a really open-ended story, so it’s not possible to say for sure what it all means at this time. But it seems pretty clear what he doesn’t means: that we have landed in the new permanent home of the DC movieverse. While it’s conceivable that Clooney, who played the role in Batman & Robin, will once again don the cape for a role the size of those Keaton and Affleck had in The Flash, there’s almost no chance that he is in fact the Batman of the future of this franchise. Although plans could change, DC co-boss James Gunn said a few months ago that they wanted someone for their next Batman. who hasn’t played the role beforeand Clooney is definitely not that.

On the other hand, Clooney would be a very good name to rebuild the franchise. And while he’s certainly poked fun at Batman & Robin – arguably the worst Batman movie, many times over the past three decades – that doesn’t stop him from trying again with an entirely different set of creations. .

Realistically, though, if Clooney was back as the new Batman to replace Ben Affleck in the DC movie, we’d likely know from real-world news sources.

So what’s the problem here? So far: nothing at all. The Flash doesn’t reflect any type of change in the status quo of the DC franchise beyond the introduction of the Multiverse. It’s no small thing, but it doesn’t really change, you know, the state of reality beyond this movie. Ben Affleck’s Batman wasn’t removed, for example – the universe Barry came from is still here, minus the Flash.

So what we really end up with the Clooney track, really, is a sequel tease that makes The Flash feel like a Sliders reboot, with Barry having to jump from dimension to dimension in hopes that his next jump brings him home. It’s a great idea for a movie, frankly, and one that could have big ramifications for the future of the DC Extended Universe.

That’s kind of the punchline with The Flash: It doesn’t on its own change anything about DC’s biggest franchise beyond providing a framework that will allow future movies to drastically change the status quo if the studio so chooses. It’s not like Marvel’s Loki, where the introduction of the multiverse was itself an inciting incident for Kang the Conqueror’s bigger story. The Flash, on the other hand, is just setting things up so new DC studios can kick off whatever new big storyline they want later on. It opens the doors to many potential new paths, but it waits for someone else to decide which one we’re going to take.

In the meantime, they don’t want you sweating too much from it all, which is what Aquaman’s cameo is all about in the post-credits scene. In the scene, Barry tells Arthur that even though he’s met all these different Batmen, every Aquaman is exactly the same. Just so you know that when Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom releases later this year, you don’t have to worry about what universe it’s set in – it’s the same anyway!

Not sweating it all out is probably the best idea for all of us, because it’s too early for new DC Studios chiefs James Gunn and Peter Safran to have their overall plans in motion in a way that we can see – every DC movie coming this year was in production before these two took over. So we’ll have a bit of a wait before we get an idea of ​​what’s really going on in the DC Universe. Maybe until we see the Batman movie rumored to be in the care of The Flash director Andy Muschietti.

The comic book story that this film will be based on, The Brave and the Bold, features Bruce Wayne’s son, Damian, as Robin and heir to the role of Batman. If Clooney is going to stick around as Bruce beyond this cameo, it’s a plausible movie story for him that could leave us with Damian Wayne as DC’s main franchise, Batman. And in that sense, this Batman movie could serve as a direct sequel to The Flash, and it would also be the franchise reset that we thought The Flash was going to be.

But there are too many moving parts, and we don’t know enough about any of them yet.

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