Wednesday, June 14, 2023

Batman, Supergirl & The Flash

Racing out of the ashes of the Snyderverse (which thankfully is in its final death throes) comes 2023's The Flash with problematic Ezra Miller reprising his role as lab tech turned super-hero Barry Allen. Despite its multiverse themes, The Flash isn't in the league of Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse. That said, being partly fueled by nostalgia of seeing Michael Keaton back as Batman, The Flash is still better than expected and a perfectly fine summer popcorn flick.

The weakest aspect of the film, for me, is Miller. We get two versions of Barry Allen in the stoic loner of present day haunted by the tragedy of his childhood and the younger goofball version of the alternate timeline which he creates. Although basically a walking joke for most of the movie, younger Barry was still more interesting than the Snyderverse version of the character (although neither is all that recognizable when compared to the original comic character). 

Taking a swing at the Flashpoint idea of resetting reality, the movie has the same trouble with the butterfly effect that the comic did with many of the changes making no logical sense. The Flash attempts to skirt the issue by suggesting Barry didn't so much rewrite time as jump universes when he made a change to his past. Many of the changes here are used for comic effect although Barry's altering of the timeline does lead to an alternate (i.e. far less shitty) version of the events at the end of Man of Steel giving us the big climactic battle scene for a film that otherwise is more about personal tragedy and life lessons than actually saving the world.

The Flash is most entertaining when it steers into the goofy fun while still reminding both us and Barry what it means to be a hero. Instead of giving us warring Atlantean and Amazons in a dystopian future (as in the original comic), we get the joy of Keaton reprising his role from 1989's Batman along with the superb choice to cast Sasha Calle as Supergirl rather than just giving us a different Superman. I enjoyed Calle here more than I did Henry Cavill in any of the Snyderverse films giving a fresh take on a different character without the baggage of the dumpster fire that was Man of Steel. As for Keaton, he's obviously having fun back in the Batsuit and the film makes several (perhaps too many) references to the earlier Bat-films.

As for the Flash, the third most interesting hero in his own movie, his costume still doesn't look quite right, but it is an improvement over the armored monstrosity seen in Justice League. I'm not a big fan of the Flash's suit lighting up when in motion, a carryover from one of the worst comic redesigns of any super-hero making him look more and more like a toy, but the lighting and speed motion do add some visual style to the proceedings.

The Flash is far from a perfect film, but thanks largely to its supporting cast it turns out to be an entertaining one for much of its running time. Sure, it goes a bit heavy into references and easter eggs in the final act to the point where it almost becomes a parody (although I applaud one in particular), but not unlike Aquaman here's a DC super-hero movie that is dumb fun to sit back and simply enjoy the ride. Keaton is a breath of fresh air from the darker versions of Batman we've seen over the years and an even better Bruce Wayne mentor for Barry than Ben Affleck. Sadly, it's probably the last we'll see of him in the role, but it was still fun while it lasted.

Watch the trailer
  • Title: The Flash
  • IMDb: link

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