The Flash

Directed by: Andy Muschietti

Written by: Christina Hodson, John Francis Daley, Jonathan Goldstein, and Joby Harold

The Flash brings us the 13th film in the DC Extended Universe. Aside from the off-screen behaviors of the star Ezra Miller, this film will let fans determine if they can separate the artist from the art. I had my doubts about the writers on this film, but with four writers on this film there of course are high expectations. There are a few well-written moments that worked, but also several missed opportunities for comedy and twists on the multiverse they missed. Those missed opportunities and poor CGI sequences just fall short of the great promises the film trailers hinted at.

Here comes the spoilers.

The opening scene is in a coffee shop shows our hero, Barry Allen, running late for work (pun intended). His usual barista is not there, and we get someone who loves to talk up a storm while Barry fidgets away, needing to eat as his metabolism is on overdrive due to his speed force superpowers. While waiting for his order, Barry gets a call to assist Batman (Ben Affleck) at a medical center that has been destroyed by mercenaries stealing a dangerous biochemical. Barry ends up working “clean-up” for Batman as the nearby hospital was damaged in the robbery. Our hero ends up saving a maternity ward full of babies while they fall from the building in mid-air. He then goes to assist Batman and arrives in time to see Wonder Woman has already come to Batman’s rescue. Not a bad opening sequence and reintroduces us to the character and his motivations and what drives him. A few scenes later we get to see him deal with his memories of his deceased mother and the loneliness he feels as his father is still locked away in prison, having been accused of her murder. A murder that Barry has worked most of his life so far to clear his father’s name of. The night before his father’s court appeal, Barry visits their old home during an emotional call with his father. When the call is disconnected, channels his distress by running and runs so fast he ends up going back in time to events earlier that day. He shares this revelation that he can travel backward in time with Bruce Wayne and is advised to not go back and change the past. Yet Barry believes he can make a minor enough change to not tremendously impact time but save his mother.

Barry does save his mother, but before he can return to his present-day timeline he gets knocked off course by a mysterious figure who seems to also possess speed force powers. Barry gets stuck in an alternative universe timeline where his alternative version is still a teenager on the day he first got his powers. After the awkward meeting his younger self who got to grow up with his parents, he convinces his alternate self to repeat the things that happened to him in order to gain the speed force powers. His younger version agrees and goes along with the plan, but in the process of gaining his powers, our Barry loses his powers. Barry must now help young Barry learn to use his new powers while also trying to figure out how to help this alternate timeline deal with the invasion of General Zod.

This leads us to Superman, who is not known by anyone in this world so Barry is concerned as to why. Here is a moment they missed a comedic opportunity by not showing movie posters on the wall of young Barry’s apartment showing Eric Stoltz as Marty McFly in Back to the Future, Michael J. Fox in Footloose, and Kevin Bacon in Top Gun. Both Barry’s go to Wayne Manor in search of Batman to assist them in the search for Superman. They discover Bruce Wayne is not the same person our Barry knew in his timeline/universe. Here we get the great Michael Keaton playing an aged version of the Caped-Crusader and I felt they missed an opportunity to twist the character a bit. When Barry asks him if he is Bruce Wayne, he replies, “I am the one who lives here.” Later Keaton looks at an old photo and touches the woman and child in the photo affectionately. They show him covering up dark spots on his skin, as he knows he is dying, and decides to put the suit back on one last time. The writers missed an opportunity to have Keaton tell Barry as he was dying to call him Thomas and not Bruce, revealing that in this timeline, Batman was the father that survived instead of the son. It would have a neat twist on the character.

The two Barry’s and Batman then go to Russia to rescue Superman, whom the found was captured by Russians. But when they get there, they find a young woman not Kal-El. They take her with them as they escape to discover she is from Krypton and the niece of Kal-El. Her name is Kara Zor-El and she was sent to watch after Kal-El, but he never made it to Earth. With her and Batman’s help, our Barry regains his powers and they all team up to take on General Zod and his army. They fail with Zod killing Kara and Batman dying in the fight, and the two Barry’s go back in time to try again to defeat Zod and to save Kara and Batman, but every time they fail again and again no matter what they try to do differently. Our Barry watches as the younger Barry keeps trying over and over to save everyone and he realizes this is in vain. This is a problem that doesn’t have a solution as his mother once told him. Barry now realizes he must let his mother go and accept his past. Young Barry first refuses to quit, and we now see the mysterious figure from earlier in the film reveal himself to be the older version of the young Barry who never stopped trying to save everyone in his universe. He is now trying to collide all other universes in an attempt to save his own. During this sequence, we see other universe versions of Superman and Batman. I felt this was a nice homage to George Reeves, Christopher Reeves, and Adam West. The speed force in the time sequences CGI was a bit of a letdown, and quite frankly no film has handled this better than Everything Everywhere All at Once (2022) did. Old Barry tries to kill our Barry, and young Barry sacrifices himself to save our Barry, who now accepts that he must say goodbye to his mother and let her go. This scene is perhaps the best-written scene, and is quite heart-wrenching. The film does end with a neat Batman cameo from George Clooney, letting us know the universes is still not quite set right.

I am excited for the changes that James Gunn will bring to the DCEU films and hope they craft quality stories built upon solid writing. If his previous work with Guardians of the Galaxy is a measure of his ability to bring something unique to the table, then I am ready to eat. DC Fans are hungry for films that rival if not outdo what Marvel has done. Start with recurring villains who don’t die at the end of the film. Give us heroes who can sometimes lose and have to grow and learn from their mistakes. Finally give us plotlines that don’t involve destroying the world (a.k.a New York) or the universe or multiverse. Something that feels personal and relatable without over explanation. We can handle it.

Thanks for reading Writing Movie “WRONGS.”

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