After many years of development, problematic stars, and regime changes, the Scarlet Speedster has finally arrived in theaters for his solo debut. Ever since Cinema Con, Warner Bros Discovery head, David Zaslav, and DC studios Co-CEO, James Gunn, have hailed the film as the best comic book film since The Dark Knight. Warner Bros even enlisted Tom Cruise and Stephen King to sing the film’s praises. So is the film worth all this hype? It’s finally time to find out.
Flash Point Plot – What Works and What Doesn’t
The Flash centers on our titular hero, aka, Barry Allen, as he tries to balance a job and super heroics all while trying to clear his father of his mother’s murder. Against Ben Affleck’s Batman’s advice, he travels back in time to save his mother. When he realizes his mistake, he teams up with his younger self, Supergirl, and Michael Keaton’s Batman to save this new timeline.
There’s a lot here that works. At times the film plays like the best of the animated Justice League animated series, putting the focus squarely on the shoulders of the Flash, an ancillary hero compared to the Trinity. In addition, while origin stories for superheroes are a dime a dozen at this point, the Flash finds a way to execute the origin that feels fresh by positioning the Barry we have followed since Batman V. Superman as a mentor to his younger self. We get to see what it was like for Barry to deal with his powers at their inception, delineating how his abilities work in ways that viewers of the long-running CW show have never seen before. That being said, some things don’t work to the point that it almost cripples the movie to a point.
The plot and character interactions in the movie feel rushed and lacking in depth, particularly in Michael Keaton’s portrayal of Batman. It’s disappointing to admit this, as the return of this iconic character was highly anticipated. I’ve previously discussed the missed potential in this film, as it seemed to only pay homage to the audience instead of building upon the legacy. Warner Bros attempted to fix the issues with the DC universe’s storytelling, but it falls short. Despite these criticisms, the performances of actors like Sasha Calle, Michael Keaton, and Miller are still impressive.
Although it cannot be denied that Miller’s purportedly unacceptable conduct should not be excused, it is crucial to acknowledge their remarkable talent in acting. They exhibited exceptional skills in flawlessly portraying two distinct roles. As the movie progresses, viewers can observe the development and maturation of the older Barry, an accomplished superhero who still grapples with the agony of losing a loved one, a recurring theme among the other bat co-stars.
Keaton’s function in the story had some issues, but his performance as Batman was still impressive. He effortlessly slipped back into the cape and cowl, retaining the whimsical charm of the original performance. Interestingly, I noticed similarities between his performance and Mark Hamill’s portrayal of Luke Skywalker in Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Keaton’s Batman didn’t dwell on his loss of purpose but instead found a positive reason to move forward and join the fight once again, which differs from the traditional Batman mythos.
A New Supergirl?
While Sasha Calle’s role in the film may seem perfunctory at times, similar to Keaton’s, her performance is nothing short of exceptional. Her portrayal of her character’s righteous rage and love for her cousin is subtle yet impactful, showcasing her talent as an actress. It is evident that she could effortlessly be seen as a cousin to Henry Cavill’s version of Superman, even on a surface level.
Overall, I was thrilled with her performance and left thoroughly impressed. I genuinely wanted to see more of Calle in this film, so it’s a shame she was treated as more of a plot device than a character at times. This was a great disservice to a great actress as she was able to shine with what she was given. If she doesn’t end up staying on as the character I hope she gets a better opportunity down the line.
Special Thanks and Dedication
Special mention must also go to Ben Affleck. While he’s not in a lot of the film he makes a great impact giving one last great moment as the caped crusader as he provides Barry an alternate perspective on his pain. The dynamic between Affleck and Miller was always one of the best parts of Snyderverse and it was great to see the two of them on screen one more time. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the cameos. As a die-hard DC fan
Although there were several issues, Andy Muschietti managed to handle the challenging Frankenstein script by Christina Hodson, Joby Harold, and former Flash directors John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein to the best of his abilities. There are great moments here and the IT Duology director gets the aesthetic and characters that make up the DC universe, but it feels too disjointed and vanilla at times enough to establish a solid direction for the DC universe.
Ultimately while there is a lot to like at times all the fan service feels little more than a distraction from the disjointed mess the Flash and by extension, the DCEU is at this point. Here’s hoping that James Gunn and Peter Safran can fix the DCU when Superman Legacy hits theaters in 2025.