The DC Extended Universe has had trouble finding its feet, especially after the departure of Zack Snyder and the fallout of Justice League, but the movie giving the studio the most trouble is The Flash. Ezra Mille was hired to play the Scarlet Speedster by Zack Snyder for a couple of cameos in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice before joining the main lineup in Justice League and eventually getting his own solo film, but the latter has faced a litany of creative issues preventing it from getting properly underway.
The Flash has been through multiple creative teams, from Seth Grahame-Smith to Rick Famuyiwa to John Francis Daley & Jonathan Goldstein before the newest name, IT director Andy Muschietti, joined the fold. Throughout it all, despite rumors of his departure, Ezra Miller has hung on. In fact, he may be partially to blame for some of the creative issues, at least with Daly & Goldstein, as he went as far as to partner with Comic Book legend Grant Morrison to write his own darker script for the movie when the studio preferred version wasn’t to his liking.
While it’s clearly still in the works, The Flash is long past its original due date, and without a clear spot in the future slate yet, it’s the movie still has a few obstacles to overcome before finally entering production and making its way to the big screen. It may be ironic that a movie about DC’s speedster is so slow in getting off the ground, but Miller explained why his character’s solo movie is (fittingly) behind schedule: “Anyone who knows anything about Barry Allen knows he’s always late, but then when he arrives, he gets stuff done. That’s definitely how this film’s production schedule is proceeding. [laughs] We’re a little late, but the reason why we’re late… [is] we are very meticulously focused on making a movie that’s not just one of the greatest superhero movies that we can possibly make…”
As the DCEU continues to find its new post-Snyder identity, there are a few things still contributing to the delays in The Flash, and Miller, WB, and Andy Muscietti will have to overcome a few last obstacles to finally take the long-awaited plunge into the Speed Force.
While Zack Snyder was only directing his own 5-story arc, leaving the solo movies to other creatives, the universe’s core story was still his Justice League movies, meaning any plans for solo character films ultimately spun out of what Snyder was doing with them in his version of Justice League.
It’s not clear exactly what Zack Snyder had planned for The Flash, but we do know time-travel was already a core theme. Flash learns to travel back in time a few seconds in the finale of Snyder’s cut of Justice League, then, of course, we all know at some point down the line he jumps back again to warn Bruce as we see in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. The fact that the Flash solo movie was officially titled “Flashpoint” for a period could indicate what direction they were going.
Flashpoint is certainly one of the darker and crazier DC stories, and while it’s also seen as a Justice League level event, at its core it’s still a Flash story, and there’s certainly a version that could be told as a Flash solo movie, and could even work as a sort of Flash origin story if needed.
Regardless, with Snyder no longer serving as a major creative driver of the DCEU, his original plan is gone, and thus The Flash is seeking a new direction, only it hasn’t found it yet. Rick Famuyiwa was presumably involved in the original darker version of the story, but Daly & Goldstein were said to be looking for something lighter before they left.
It’s not uncommon for a superhero actor to be passionate about their character, but Ezra Miller takes it to the next level. He’s clearly well versed in Flash lore, regularly making references to the world of Flash in various interviews. He’s excited about playing the character, but his vision also doesn’t align with Warner Bros.
It’s important to remember that Ezra Miller was cast by Zack Snyder. Since he came into the universe for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Snyder would have had his whole plan fleshed out by the time he started talking to Miller. Like Ben Affleck and Batman, Miller signed up for a very specific version of the character that fit into Zack Snyder’s plan, but due to Snyder’s departure and other creative differences, Warner Bros. is hesitant to go as dark with its iconic characters and brought in Spider-Man: Homecoming and Game Night writers Daley & Goldstein.
Miller pushed back to the point that Warner Bros. let him try to write his own script with Grant Morrison. That version of the movie wasn’t ultimately selected, but Daly & Goldstein did end up leaving the project regardless as Ezra Miller stayed in the role for, despite his contract expiring in May.
While Miller’s tenure as The Flash hasn’t been that long and he could be more easily recast than some other characters, he’s clearly passionate about staying on the project and seeing a certain version of the character realized on-screen, and with his role in Fantastic Beasts, a franchise very important to Warner Bros., the studio has a vested interest in keeping Miller happy, meaning they just might be playing ball with him to find a compromise so he can keep his darker Flash movie.
Since rejecting Zack Snyder’s DC universe, Warner Bros. has yet to replace it with their own clear plan. It’s been stated many times that continuity won’t be a priority as individual character movies get the focus. Zack Stentz, when giving an update on his Boost Gold script, said DC’s “strategy seems to change depending on how […] most recent movie did.”
Being in such a state of constant flux is understandably rough for any in-process productions, especially ones where there’s creative struggles like with The Flash. In order for Warner Bros. to gain the confidence they need to get The Flash into production, it seems they may also need to decide what they want from the rest of the DCEU.
Since super speed is so core to Flash’s character, the studio and producers have likely been assuming the character can’t be properly adapted without a big-budget movie. Flash’s speed could be a highly stylized power, but heavy VFX means bigger budgets, which means Warner Bros. could be more concerned about making sure the movie has broad appeal for box office purposes, ruling out a darker story.
However, with Andy Muchsietti likely joining the project, there’s a few things we can infer about the ways The Flash is changing behind the scenes. Muchsietti’s horror background and experience with lower budget movies (that still perform at the box office) could signify that WB is allowing Miller and Muchietti to take a darker, more risky approach with the movie and simply giving it a smaller budget – like with Birds of Prey and its $75 million budget – to insulate themselves from potential losses associated with mega-blockbusters.
If the perceived need for a larger budget was driving Warner Bros. desire for a lighter, more accessible movie, then it’s possible they’re hiring Muschietti because he gives them confidence in his ability to make the movie at a lower cost, meaning it can take more risks an appeal to Ezra Miller’s desire for a darker take.
Add in Christina Hodson, seemingly Warner Bros. new go-to scriptwriter, and it seems like The Flash might finally be escaping development hell. Given, writers and directors have come and gone numerous times before, so it’d be understandable if fans aren’t holding their breath just yet.
NEXT: The Flash’s Batman v Superman Time Travel Plot Finally Explained
Stephen M. Colbert