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The Pros and Cons of the DCEU Reinventing Itself With Flashpoint

Help us, Barry Allen; you're our only hope.

Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, and Ezra Miller in Justice League (2017)

With official news that The Batman will feature a younger Bruce Wayne and therefore will recast the role, we once more enter the discourse world of “what’s next for the DCEU?” Whether The Batman is a one-off with a younger Bat and Affleck will return for other films set in the present day (which seems unlikely at this point), or if this signals a new Bat altogether, it’s time for the ultimate question: Will the DCEU use the Flash’s standalone film to do the Flashpoint arc and therefore easily soft reboot the entire series, or will Barry Allen not save the day?

Flashpoint is, essentially, a comics arc in which Barry Allen uses his powers to break through the timeline and go back in time to save his mom from being murdered. When he returns to the present, he finds his actions have changed the course of history, and the world now teeters on the edge of an apocalypse.

Batman is not Bruce Wayne; Bruce was murdered in the alley instead of his parents, and now Thomas Wayne is the Bat, with Martha the new Joker. Atlanteans and Amazons are at war, with their respective sides being led by Aquaman and Wonder Woman. Cyborg is the head of National Security, and he’s desperately trying to put together a team to save the world.

Since this is comics we’re talking about, Barry is again able to go back in time and stop himself from changing the past in the first place, and he returns to a world that has been altered in different ways. This led into DC’s reboot of their comics timeline in 2011, called the New 52. The storyline was later adapted into an animated film, titled Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox—not to mention its involvement in The CW’s The Flash series and Arrowverse.

At SDCC 2017, it was announced that Flashpoint would be one of the movies adapted into the DC movie universe, and now, with the that universe in a weird, constant state of “what’s being rebooted and what’s not,” it might be time to assume that DC could use Flashpoint as a soft reboot, resetting it enough to keep what works and recast and shake up what doesn’t. This might be an excellent idea, but it might also be a terrible one, and we’re going to run down the pros and cons of resetting the universe this way.

Let’s do bad news first: Given that Aquaman and Wonder Woman are the shining stars of the DCEU currently, it might not do well to paint them in a super negative light. In Flashpoint, Aquaman and the Atlanteans wipe out most of Western Europe, and Wonder Woman kills Mera, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. To have Arthur and Diana play the villains of the story might not go over well with casual fans who only know the movies. Switching it up would mean finding new characters to turn into baddies, which would then upset comics purists.

Plus, in a series that has drawn complaints for being overly dark, the grim and heart-wrenching Flashpoint story wouldn’t do it any favors. It could be the last grim film, but seeing the heroes turned to anti-heroes or even villains might put the nail in the coffin for some viewers. It would be a powerful story with the right director, but it could also be deeply upsetting. We shouldn’t just tell cheery stories, but the context of the rest of the movies surrounding it is important. The darkness needs some light.

The story is also complicated, out there, and might be off-putting. Also, would there be a way to only keep Wonder Woman’s canon and Aquaman’s canon while erasing the rest? Not to sound like they’re the only two heroes that matter, but critically and commercially, they are the ones that landed the best. If DC can find a way to not strike Wonder Woman, Aquaman, and whatever sequels ensue from canon, they’ll go for it, but they’ll have to find the best way to convey the tricky reboot concepts without delivering wall-t0-wall exposition.

Luckily, Ezra Miller’s Flash was well-received by audiences, so centering the film on him wouldn’t be a complete miss. It also requires minimal Superman effort, so if Henry Cavill is still out, they can recast or find a new way to bring Superman in.

And it doesn’t require Affleck to return, but rather bringing in Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Thomas Wayne. Morgan is a genre star thanks to Supernatural, The Losers, and The Walking Dead, and I almost feel like they had to cast two strong actors as Thomas and Martha (Morgan was joined by fellow TWD alumna Lauren Cohan) to leave the door open for Flashpoint.

Morgan would easily carry the Bat-mantle with Thomas’s anger and grief. His turn as the Winchester family patriarch on Supernatural was basically an extended audition for the film. I would be interested to see his grizzled turn next to Barry Allen’s endless optimism and millennial humor.

Much to my joy, it would also give Ray Fisher more to do as Cyborg. I loved Fisher’s turn as the Cyborg, and the actor’s general enthusiasm for the DCEU, as well. It would be great seeing Victor as a leader and even more of a hero as he tries to stop the end of the world. Anything that gives Fisher more to do is a win in my book, and I’m hoping that if Flashpoint doesn’t pan out, then we at least get a Cyborg solo film.

The idea has strengths, and it has weaknesses. It could save the DCEU, or it could damn it further, but I feel as though something similar to this will happen in the end, Flashpoint or not. With Wonder Woman 1984 already poking holes in continuity, The Suicide Squad functioning as a reboot, and Cavill and Affleck’s futures in flux, it might be time to figure out how the DCEU intends on righting the ship without losing their most valuable properties.

Personally, as a new DC movie fan, I’m excited to see what they come up with.

(image: DC/Warner Bros)

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Kate (she/her) says sorry a lot for someone who is not sorry about the amount of strongly held opinions she has. Raised on a steady diet of The West Wing and classic film, she is now a cosplayer who will fight you over issues of inclusion in media while also writing coffee shop AU fanfic for her favorite rare pairs.