“The Future’s starting to look a lot brighter.”- Barry Allen, The Flash, 1991
Demonstrating the core concept of the Multiverse and parallel Earths, we have Grant Gustin as Barry Allen/The Flash on the CW and Ezra Miller as Barry Allen/The Flash in the DC Cinematic Extended Needs Less Adjectives Universe. Fans are mixed about this fact, but like the character both actors share Ezra Miller isn’t slowing down anytime soon…
We’ve known for years now that the DC TV shows and the DC Movies were never going to connect the same way that the Marvel Cinematic Universe is shared over their movies, ABC and Netflix. The simple reason given is, they didn’t want either to be hampered by having to worry about continuity from either side. Thus far, the only restriction we’ve actually seen is that the shows on the CW don’t have access to certain characters that will appear in the movies. Puzzingly, The Flash is a prime exception to that. Grant Gustin began moving at super-speed way before Zack Snyder planned a cameo from the Flash in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Still, fans held out hope that Gustin could be the Flash in both the movies and TV despite executives saying it wasn’t possible. Which means that many are reluctant to embrace Ezra Miller’s portrayal when they love Gustin’s so much already.
Ezra Miller is a film actor of some acclaim for his roles in The Perks of Being a Wallflower, The Stanford Prison Experiment and a personal favorite of mine, We Need to Talk About Kevin. It’s a fantastic movie all on its own and Miller isn’t actually in it very long, but his acting in the scenes he is in are incredible and layered. That’s all the evidence I need to know that he is a great choice for the role Snyder cast him in, although I do worry about how the character will be presented (more on that in a minute).
I’ve written so much about the Flash and the current TV show on the CW. I loved the first season despite some plotting problems, but season two has just been disappointing almost entirely. It’s the one thing the Flash should never do, retread over the past. Season two is a poor redux of season one and shows why Grant Gustin’s take, while admirably well done, isn’t perfect. He needs a pep-talk every episode, his love for Iris West seems to depend on what the script says that week, he makes very short-sighted decisions; this is all ok for a show on the CW but I really don’t want to set through more of that in a two and a half hour movie theater sitting.
What little I’ve seen of Miller’s character looks refreshingly different but familiar: funny, self-aware, intuitive, less posh. I’d like to see a more confident Barry Allen who, while eternally optimistic, has a strong sense of right and wrong as well as an analytic nature. We know the director of the Flash movie will be Dope‘s Rick Famuyiwa adapting a script by Phil Lord and Chris Miller. It was recently announced will who will likely portray Ezra’s love interest Iris West, Kiersey Clemons.
I think it’s clear from what information is floating on the web that the Flash movie will take cues from the Flash show, which doesn’t help those critics who say Gustin should’ve been promoted to Justice League. The casting of Kiersey Clemons doesn’t just continue DC’s retcon of the West family as African American, I worry her Iris will mostly be a copy of Candace Patton’s. Which would be a waste of an opportunity for a clean slate and the character of Iris West, who like Lois Lane is a strong and competent female character. Given Amy Adams’ Lois Lane, I’m excited to see how Iris could go in a parallel direction. I’d like to see an Iris West that isn’t love-struck by the Flash, but instead attracted to Barry’s good-guy nature. It makes more sense and would help to show an emotional connection between Iris and Barry. I personally don’t care what the actor’s ethnicity is, I’d like to see the movie step up in adapting these characters from the comics in ways the TV show just won’t. Even just tweeking the TV show’s stories would be extremely wasteful.
However, with the director and screenwriters given, along with the currently announced cast, there is a strong foundation here to make a Flash movie. Which, holy Rao, they’re probably going to make a Flash movie. Two TV shows is all I thought I would get in this life, but throw a movie on top of all that?
All of which brings me back to Ezra Miller as the Flash. It’s not necessarily a bad thing to have multiple takes on a character. Both Aaron Taylor Johnson and Evan Peters’ portrayals of Quicksilver in Marvel Studios and Fox Films respectively were both warmly received by fans. After Christian Bale and Ben Affleck’s prolonged down period, fans were furious that he was cast as Batman but ended up being one of the highlights of Dawn of Justice. It’s ok for the same character to be brought to life by different people, why is Ezra Miller’s casting the exception to that? He’s roughly the same age as Grant Gustin was when he was cast as the Flash, he’s excited for the role and he knows what taking it on means.
Don’t look back too long at the Flashes of the past, look forward to the future that’s ahead.