It’s been two years since anyone has seen Barry Allen – at least, since anyone has seen him on the big screen. And given what we know right now, Newsarama is about ready to call a 'time of death' on actor Ezra Miller’s chances of starring in a Flash movie.
We haven't logged the time, but our eyes are on the clock on the wall with our fingers on its pulse.
With Warner Bros. now thawing the ice on Dwayne Johnson’s long-in-gestation Black Adam film and Superman actor Henry Cavill expressing his desire for another turn in the role, we’re left wondering what’s going on with The Flash, whose race towards a feature film has turned into a marathon.
November 2017’s Justice League, in which Miller took his first and only lap as the Flash (aside from a puzzlingly-brief cameo in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice) was intended as the start of a much larger DC film universe, but instead the practically dead-in-the-water film flat-tired much of Warner Bros.’ planned film slate.
For a time, it seemed like WB would move forward with a few of its DC movies – Ben Affleck was still contracted for Batman, a Henry Cavill-led Superman sequel was under public consideration, and of course Aquaman, Cyborg, and Flash were all due for breakout solo films. Even Green Lantern Corps once had a release date. But as the years have passed, it’s become clear plans have changed. And though Ezra Miller’s Flash solo-movie may once have been planned as a sail to right the ship, it seems like it too is running aground.
To unpack exactly how we got here, we’re going to pull out our magnifying glasses, dig into our fingerprint kits, and gather as much forensic evidence as possible to establish the still-technically-in-development Flash movie’s probable cause of death. We'll start by hopping on the Cosmic Treadmill and zooming back a few years to when the slate of DC films that has since crumbled first came together.
Ezra Miller’s planned Flash solo movie was originally announced in 2014 with a planned March 23, 2018 theatrical date, which would have placed it as the first post-Justice League DC film. Screenwriter Seth Grahame-Smith was hired to write and direct the production, with a script reportedly underway.
Flash’s first problems started there – Grahame-Smith quickly departed over creative differences, leaving the position of Flash director briefly open before director Rick Famuyiwa came on board, even beginning the casting process with plenty of time to hit the 2018 date. But things began to change in the lead up to Justice League, with problems surrounding that film leading to a summer 2017 announcement that Flash would now be Flashpoint, a film version of the story that rebooted the DC comic book universe – a change was quickly followed by Famuyiwa’s departure.
From there multiple candidates were reportedly in talks to direct the film following Famuyiwa’s exit, including Spider-Man: Homecoming writers Jonathan Goldstein and John Frances Daley, and The LEGO Movie directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, while numerous screenwriters in between were reportedly given turns at crafting a story for the film.
Then Justice League got out of the blocks slow and posted a slow 40 time, necessitating even bigger changes across the line. DC films seemed to disengage from the Justice League continuity. Ben Affleck departed his Batman role and WB moved forward with a new, unrelated iteration of the franchise. Wonder Woman’s sequel is still ground to a pre-League past and Aquaman made little to no reference to the events of the team film that preceded it.
Aquaman used to the guy who had to justify his place among DC's pantheon, now he was distanching himself from it.
And somewhere along the way, Flashpoint, which was rumored to be a mechanism to establish a DC film multiverse and to excise problematic bits of the still-burgeoning DC cinematic continuity, reportedly turned back into a just plain old Flash solo story.
With screenwriters and directors failing to keep up with Barry Allen essentially since the film was announced five years ago (including an apparently failed attempt at a script from the aforementioned Goldstein and Daley and a polish from none other than Ezra Miller himself and comic book writer Grant Morrison), the primary hallmark of even the idea of a Flash movie – at least one tied to Justice League - has been its embattled, uncertain status. Some clarity may have arrived earlier this summer when It director Andy Muschietti confirmed he’d taken the job of directing the film, with Warner Bros. angling for a January 2020 production start, based on a script from Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) screenwriter Christina Hodgson.
And all that sounds great – but it also sounds very familiar and we're a few weeks from January and there hasn't been an update since or a peep about casting. Caution here is required.
Also consider timeline. Warner Bros. has stuck to a pretty conservative release schedule. Films with already reserved dates beginning in 2021 are The Batman, The Suicide Squad, Black Adam, DC Super Pets, Aquaman 2 and a yet-to-be-scheduled Shazam! sequel (with its rapidly-aging kid and teen cast). So while 2022 is an outside possiblity, the likely earliest a Flash movie could now land may be 2023, a full six years since Miller's last appearance.
Which begs the question and the purpose of this exercise - would it even be worthwhile tying back to a now defunct franchise and more than half-a-decade out of date portrayal when the field is wide open for a fresh and defining start - the way even other Justice Leaguers have gotten since?
Now, we aren't saying a Flash movie won’t come to pass – it’s a valuable property with continued popularity in the public sphere and HBO Max, the home of future Green Lantern Corps and Strange Adventures streaming series has entered the equation. But with Warner Bros. primarily staking its post-Justice League DC films on how they don’t relate to the somewhat ill-fated ensemble piece, it’s becoming increasingly unlikely that Ezra Miller will slip into his bungy-tied speed suit again any time soon – even if Muschietti someday gets a chance to do a Flash film.