Ezra Miller is Barry Allen aka the Flash, the superhero who can run at insane speeds, and as such, he should be living the life – but he’s not. Feeling like he’s been relegated to being the Justice League’s janitor, he gets to the jobs that Batman, Aquaman or Wonder Woman are too busy for, like plucking falling babies out of the sky before they go squish on the sidewalk. All of which he manages with milliseconds to spare but there’s something else gnawing away at our socially awkward Barry – it’s his past.
Michael Keaton is back as Batman and he's ready "to get nuts" again...
With his father wrongly imprisoned for the death of his mother, Barry feels compelled to run back through time to right this wrong whereupon he bumps into his past self. As a result, he messes up the multiverse, releases Michael Shannon’s General Zod onto an unsuspecting future and risks destroying the very fabric of time itself.
So, The Flash is yet another multiverse movie. Yes, it’s another multiverse flick but -and here’s the big “but” – The Flash has several refreshing distinctions that pulls director Andy Muschetti’s vision into first place.
First in Ezra MIller’s Barry. Despite whatever you might have read about the actor’s troubles, their acting is totally on point. By imbuing anxious Barry with a fallibility that is noticeably absent from most Marvel movies, Millar’s Flash inhabits the same, rich vein of self-depreciating humour that so marked out the first Shazam movie.
Also, Michael Keaton is Batman. There – let that sink in. Michael Keaton is back as Batman and he’s ready “to get nuts” again, which is a delicious prospect in itself. Righteously revered for bringing in the best Bruce Wayne ever, Keaton’s Batman doesn’t disappoint with a deadpan presence which sparingly underscores the serious beats where they’re needed.
All of which brings us to reason number three. And with so many multiverse movies doing the rounds lately, it’s been pretty easy to get inter-dimensional fatigue.
In what feels more like a pretext to sew contrasting movies into more homogeneous, happy franchises, The Flash manages to find a way to present a far more interesting multiversal question. Paraphrasing Jurassic Park‘s sly Dr Malcolm, Barry is “so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn’t stop to think if they should” and The Flash is a far better movie for it.
So, whilst the internet bickers over the quality (or lack) of its special effects – they’re fine by the way – The Flash crosses the finishing line as DC’s more-than-laudable response to Marvel’s Spider-Man: No Way Home. Sure, much like Andrew Garfield’s resurrection, there’s a fair bit of fan service and whimsy wafting through the third act, but compared to DC’s somewhat sketchy batting average, The Flash is a hit which should burn up the summer box office.