Sasha Calle as Supergirl and Ezra Miller as Barry Allen in The Flash
(Warner Bros.)

‘The Flash’ Is Not Good Enough To Justify All the Praise

3.5/5 speed force runs.

There are simply too many multiverse stories out there, and The Flash falls victim to being the lesser of the Flashpoint stories. A movie that thrives on the nostalgia bait laid out with Michael Keaton’s return as Bruce Wayne, it’s frankly a mid-level watch after seeing something like Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse. And maybe the near-hysteric level of unnecessary hype ruined my viewing experience of it, so temper your expectations and you might have more fun.

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The Flash is far from the “best superhero movie” title that had been thrown around by audiences and critics after CinemaCon. It is, in a way, fine—not “bad” fine, not “great” fine. Just fine. If you love depressed Barry Allen struggling to cope with the death of his mother when he was a child, then you’ll have a grand ole time, but it’s not reinventing the wheel.

The movie, which has been tainted by Ezra Miller and their actions outside of filming, has a lot working against it. Unfortunately, it’s not great enough to justify all the praise it initially got, especially in the face of all of that. I truly do believe part of my “Oh, okay, this is just less exciting Flashpoint” attitude comes from the fact that most of the initial reviews praised it enthusiastically, ignoring Miller’s troubles to do so—and in watching the film, I don’t understand why.

Bringing an abridged Flashpoint to life

Two Ezra Millers and Sasha Calle in the Flash
(Warner Bros. Pictures)

The Flash’s most iconic story, Flashpoint, is an arc that has been told in a brilliant animated movie (and if you want this story, just watch that), as well as in the CW live-action TV series. It is rooted in Barry Allen’s need to fix things. When Barry (Ezra Miller) has to come to terms with the fact that his father Henry (played now by Ron Livingston, previously played by Billy Crudup in Justice League) won’t get out of jail for the murder of his mother, Barry decides that one little change to the fabric of time won’t hurt anyone.

The Flash‘s version of this arc is watered down. There’s no Thomas Wayne—upsetting to me—and there’s no alternate Diana. It’s just all about Barry and how his life is altered by the time travel shenanigans. Yes, we get to see Michael Keaton’s Batman, as well as Sasha Calle’s Supergirl, but the story has been altered from Barry seeing how one change ripples through the lives of every hero to one that features an odd alternate reality where Barry’s mom living somehow means Superman never makes it to Earth. His “Subject One” storyline belongs to his cousin Kara (Sasha Calle) and is great, but why does Barry’s mom mean Supes isn’t there?

On the one hand, I understand making this story palatable for fans of the DCU who don’t know the arc from the comics. On the other hand, it feels like a cop out. They should have done Flashpoint as fans know it or left it alone, because what the movie delivers is a watered down multiversal movie that wants fans to get excited for cameos, nostalgia, and everything other than Barry Allen.

I came for Michael Keaton and Sasha Calle and left satisfied

Two Ezra Millers and Michael Keaton in the Flash
(Warner Bros. Pictures)

From the jump, I was invested in the return of Keaton’s Batman. I am a girl who grew up in the ’90s in Pittsburgh, so Pittsburgh legend Michael Keaton’s return was something that I, and many fans of the Tim Burton movies, had been hoping for. Luckily, it did not disappoint. In a lot of ways, it was the aspect of the movie I loved the most because it gave fans exactly what they wanted out of this film, which I cannot say for the Flashpoint aspect of it.

Keaton’s Bruce is obviously older, and he appears when Barry is kicked out of the speed force and meets his 18-year-old self (also played by Ezra Miller). Barry wants to keep his mother alive, so he goes back in time to change one aspect of the day she died. It, in turn, saves her but also means that Barry isn’t doing his work when lightning hits him, Ben Affleck isn’t there as Batman, and he suddenly has the emotional capabilities to ask out Iris West (good for 18-year-old Barry).

When our regular Barry needs help, he goes to see Batman, and we are treated to gadgets from the Keaton films and lines like “Let’s get nuts” for fans to fawn over, but it’s Keaton’s ability to bring depth to Bruce without saying a word that reminds us just how good he was in the role.

For Calle, her screen time is limited but she makes the absolute most of it. Kara is still Kal-El’s cousin sent to Earth from Krypton to protect him. The difference here is she doesn’t have a nice family in Kansas who finds her. Calle does the most with the little she has in a way that makes me long for more Supergirl content.

For Clark’s optimism, Kara is angry. She is willing to fight and hurt someone and it’s refreshing to see her abrasive fighting style. I just wish there were more time spent with her and less time making jokes about how Barry finds Barry annoying. Could have used less of the two Barrys in general.

Should have used the technology from The Parent Trap

The flash crew all standing together
(Warner Bros. Pictures)

The most baffling bit of CGI came from Barry Allen. How a show on the CW makes Barry’s suit look normal but this multi-million dollar movie can’t is beyond me, but that’s the case. Barry’s neck in his suit looks like spaghetti? And why? Did Miller not want to wear the suit? It is a baffling move made even weirder by the horrible CGI included to make two Barrys happen.

Remember when we were kids and the new version of The Parent Trap came out and everyone thought that Lindsay Lohan was a twin? No one will think that about Ezra Miller. Instead of simply filming the scene twice in the same location, it seems like they just CGIed Miller’s face onto a body double in a frankly uncanny valley manner.

Fun for DC fans but not game-changing

Ezra Miller and Sasha Calle in the flash
(Warner Bros. Pictures)

Look, The Flash is not offensively bad. It’s not life-changing, either. At the end of the day, it’s a fine movie, which is good for DC as a whole. DC’s live-action offerings just already include a brilliant Flash story from Grant Gustin’s Barry, and so the movie simply pales in comparison.

It is truly a show of hype for a movie that does not need it. If anything, the hype hindered my enjoyment because I was told it was the best superhero movie around only to be underwhelmed. Hopefully, my breaking down of your expectations means you have more fun than I did, but frankly, it’s fine—not offensive and not game-changing, just fine.

(featured image: Warner Bros. Pictures)

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Rachel Leishman
Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. She's been a writer professionally since 2016 but was always obsessed with movies and television and writing about them growing up. A lover of Spider-Man and Wanda Maximoff's biggest defender, she has interests in all things nerdy and a cat named Benjamin Wyatt the cat. If you want to talk classic rock music or all things Harrison Ford, she's your girl but her interests span far and wide. Yes, she knows she looks like Florence Pugh. She has multiple podcasts, normally has opinions on any bit of pop culture, and can tell you can actors entire filmography off the top of her head. Her work at the Mary Sue often includes Star Wars, Marvel, DC, movie reviews, and interviews.