I have neither the time nor the patience nor the energy nor the space to type the millions of words it would take to sufficiently chronicle the sordid saga of getting The Flash to screen. And I’m not even talking about all the efforts at getting a Flash movie made in the period between Batman (1989) and the launch of the DC Cinematic Universe.
A film centered around this current Ezra Miller iteration of Barry Allen was first announced in October 2014, with a March 2018 release. Only in June of 2023 is it finally getting released. Nine years after its initial announcement. What happened in those nine years?
Well, to start with, we got nine goddamn seasons of Grant Gustin playing a different iteration of the character on television, going from series premiere to series finale — plus multiple spinoff series! — in the time it took to get this one movie made. In the meantime, we got a carousel of writers and directors coming and going from the project as WB/DC got cold feet after the one-two punch of BvS and Justice League, until Andy Muschietti got pulled from the editing room of It: Chapter Two to try and figure out how to rejigger The Flash into a “Flashpoint” adaptation that could soft reboot all of DC on film. Oh, and of course that’s not even getting started on David Zaslav and the ongoing Warner Bros. Discovery goatfuck.
(Side note: Check out this Deadline article from 2022 that says “A high-profile comic book movie set to debut next year recently had its final script submitted to the WGA for screenwriting credit, and insiders tell Deadline that a staggering 45 writers [emphasis mine] had some sort of involvement with the script at various stages through the development process.” Of course I can’t confirm that the movie in question is The Flash, but what else could it be?)
The movie was finally set to begin filming in 2020 until… well, 2020 happened. Production was delayed further until cameras got rolling at last in April 2021, and then filming wrapped six months later. Everything seemed to be going swimmingly until 2022 happened.
While Ezra Miller had a couple of controversial flare-ups in years prior, 2022 was a catastrophic year for Miller. The entire year was a three-ring circus of alleged crimes and hijinks, each one more scandalous and outrageous than the one before. If Miller is truly guilty of even half the things they’re accused of, they need to go away for a long time. Go to prison, go to a mental asylum, go to a darkness retreat, I don’t fucking care. Just go away, get your shit together, make your necessary amends, and don’t come back until you do.
To their credit, Miller has been surprisingly quiet of late. I can only assume that WB is keeping them in a fortified bunker somewhere, behind an army of lawyers and publicists. Regardless, Miller hasn’t said or done anywhere near enough to redeem their public image, much less make amends for all the damage they’ve done or grow into a better and healthier person.
So now it’s this huge controversial issue and social media is calling for a boycott of The Flash. The argument goes that if we refuse to see the movie, we’re sending the message that we don’t want to see Ezra Miller as The Flash, or as the headliner in any other motion picture. But of course it’s not that simple. By that same logic, I should buy a ticket because I want to see Sasha Calle get another shot at Supergirl and go on to a long, prosperous career. Should I buy a ticket to encourage WB to make more DC movies, or refuse to buy a ticket because I don’t want the Snyderverse to come back?
Look, we all know what this is really about. If precedent is any indication, the bigshot Hollywood celebrity Ezra Miller likely won’t be made to face any consequences for unspeakably horrible actions that would get literally anybody else on death row (or unemployable, at the very least). Tokata Iron Eyes and anyone else directly hurt by Miller’s actions probably won’t get any kind of sensible justice. And unless we’re one of the lucky few who get to be judge or jury in Miller’s court case (or unless we’re a WBD exec), we are completely and totally unable to make Miller answer for their transgressions.
It sucks. It’s awful, it’s painful, and any rational person of conscience would be infuriated by this. So we’re left with all this righteous anger and no practical outlet for it except to bitch on social media and stay away from theaters. Because the absolute most we can do, the pinnacle of what we can hope for, is to discredit Miller and maybe stall their career for a couple years. It’s not much — in fact, it’s frankly pathetic — but at least it’s something and it’s all we can do.
With all of that said, there’s something else to consider: If everything had gone according to plan and the film had been released in 2018-2021 like it was supposed to, we would not be having this discussion.
Except for a couple of misdemeanors, all of Miller’s extraordinary crimes had taken place well after production had wrapped on The Flash. What was supposed to be done by that point? We’re not talking about Kevin Spacey in All the Money in the World or Chris D’Elia in Army of the Dead here — this isn’t some supporting character who can be replaced with a few days of reshoots and CGI trickery. We’re talking about the namesake star of the movie, present in every scene (and often multiple times in the same shot!) throughout the entire two-and-a-half-hour runtime. It would be cheaper and faster to burn another $200 million and six months casting a new lead actor and reshooting the whole damn movie!
At this point, you might be wondering why WBD didn’t burn this movie for a tax write-off like they famously did with Batgirl. First of all, writing off a loss of $90 million at most is very different from writing off a loss of $200 million, plus the years of development costs and the money already spent in marketing.
Secondly, don’t ever suggest doing this again. I can’t possibly stress this enough, don’t even think of suggesting that another movie should be burned like Batgirl. Please understand that WBD is now literally forbidden by law from making any money off Batgirl. It’s done, it’s burned, it’s been effectively wiped from existence. Do you understand how dangerous that could be if it sets a precedent?
I can say without hyperbole that erasing Batgirl for a tax writeoff was the single dumbest mistake that Warner Bros. has made in its entire 100-year history. (Yes, you can be damn well sure I’m including the AOL buyout in that assessment.) And the only thing more unforgivably stupid than making such a terrible mistake is in making the same mistake twice. It’s bad enough that we’ve got studios erasing streaming exclusives from the internet. If we allow studios to make the unilateral decision of erasing near-completed movies for a tax write-off, and we treat that like it’s normal, it will be the end of the entire entertainment industry as we know it. From filmmakers to movie theaters to streaming subscribers, literally NOBODY will be able to trust any contract signed with any studio. Chaos would reign.
Getting back to my earlier point, nobody could’ve seen any of this crap with Miller coming. This isn’t like Suicide Squad, in which Jared Leto engaged in horrific acts of abuse against his costars and WB/DC decided to use that as a marketing point instead of firing him mid-production. (No, I still haven’t forgotten about that, much less forgiven it.) There’s no way the filmmakers could’ve seen anything like this coming, and there’s nothing they could’ve done after all of this came to light. Much as I get the frustration about Miller, and as much as I want to see Miller faced with some kind of corrective action, I don’t think it’s fair to take that out on a movie that was too far gone, or filmmakers who were powerless to do anything about it.
In my humble opinion, that would be enough for me to justify seeing the movie. But do I really want to?
If I see the movie and I like it, then I’m stuck writing a positive review with a target on my back, throwing out so many qualifiers about how it doesn’t mean that I’m in favor of supporting Ezra Miller and my full sympathies go out to anyone hurt by their actions and so on. But if I see the movie and I hate it, then I’m stuck giving my ticket money to the unfolding WBD fiasco and I’ve spent two and a half hours — plus another few hours writing the blog entry — that I could’ve spent watching and reviewing literally anything else.
Either way, the Snyderverse is dead and never coming back, the DC Cinematic Universe will carry on with James Gunn’s new take on Superman, and my blog entry will do nothing to convince anyone whether or not to see the movie because those lines were drawn in the sand months ago.
The upshot is this: I’m going to see and review the movie… when it hits DVD. For extra measure, I’ll rent it from Movie Madness so my money goes to them and not to WBD. I really do want to see this film and judge it on its own merit, but I can’t do that with all this controversy. This might be a movie that can only be properly judged in hindsight, when we’ve got at least a few months to see how everything shakes out.
For better or worse, The Flash is finally hitting theaters on June 16th, 2023. Brace for impact.