When Warner Bros. announced their next wave of DC Extended Universe movies, there were a few surprises. There was no mention of Cyborg’s solo film or the sequel to Justice League that were announced back in 2014, for example. But the largest surprise may have been that the troubled Flash solo movie is now titled Flashpoint.
Potential FLASHPOINT SPOILERS ahead.
Like Captain America: Civil War, the name Flashpoint comes with a lot of baggage for comics fans. The original comic was a Flash-focused line-wide event in which Barry Allen awoke in a world where his mother hadn’t been murdered in his youth, but the result was a world far darker. Barry never became the Flash, there was no Superman, a more dangerous Gotham was patrolled by a more brutal Batman, and an arranged marriage gone wrong left Wonder Woman and Aquaman in a brutal war that threatened to leave the world in ruins.
Far more importantly, DC used the event to reboot nearly their entire product line, a move they started to walk back last year with DC Rebirth.
There’s already been an animated movie based on the story, and The Flash TV series named its third season premiere after it, but now it’s possible that a big-screen, live-action version on the way. It’s a big, complicated story, and it comes with some challenges. But they’re not challenges without solutions.
1. No Reverse-Flash
Problem: A key figure in every version of Flashpoint to date is Barry Allen’s nemesis from the future, Eobard Thawne, aka the Reverse-Flash. In the comic, it’s Thawne who murdered Barry’s mother in the original timeline, and it’s Thawne that Barry is certain created this new timeline. And in every version, Thawne is the key to putting things back to normal… or as close to normal as things can ever get.
But the DCEU has no Eobard Thawne. Flashpoint would be the very first Flash-centric film. The only Flash villain to be established in the films is Captain Boomerang, and the death of his mother (and subsequent wrongful imprisonment of his father) will likely only get a passing mention in Justice League.
Solution: Don’t stick to the comics.
Sure, that idea hasn’t always worked out. (Looking at you, Catwoman.) But hear us out. One of Marvel Studios’ best franchises is Captain America, and while the better Cap movies borrowed titles from Marvel books, they didn’t borrow much in the way of story. Winter Soldier only used the idea of the long-dead Bucky returning as a brainwashed assassin, and Civil War created a different excuse for Steve Rogers and Tony Stark to be at odds. There’s even a precedent for this, since the only aspect of Flashpoint (the TV episode of that name) kept was the idea of Barry creating a new timeline by preventing Thawne from killing his mother.
Similarly, a Flashpoint movie could devote its first act to Barry’s first encounter with Eobard. With his hero career just beginning post-Justice League, Barry is suddenly at odds with a future speedster who hates the man Barry will become enough to go back in time and attack his entire childhood. You can still visit the classic dark timeline of the book, but save it for the third act, as Barry and Eobard’s battle takes them across the decades. And in the process, they could give us glimpses of the DCEU’s past, such as Batman’s early years, what Wonder Woman was up to between 1920 and the late 80s, or even a sneak peek at Black Adam in ancient Egypt.
You could even bump into the future-Flash viewers glimpsed in Batman v Superman, unless we’re all okay with just forgetting that the Knightmare sequence ever happened.
2. Dark Diana?
Problem: Assuming you do stick to the comic story, Reverse-Flash was the story’s central villain, but a larger threat was the war between Atlantis and Themyscira, spearheaded by twisted takes on Wonder Woman and Aquaman.
But is that something Warner Bros. really wants to do?
Wonder Woman became the DCEU’s biggest success thanks mostly to its unapologetic hope and optimism. Diana was bright and inspiring in every way that Henry Cavill’s Superman was supposed to be, and audiences loved her for it. The drastic change to her character needed to have her lead the conquest of England while trying to kill Aquaman risks alienating that fanbase and steering back into the grimness that held back DC’s earlier film efforts.
And if Aquaman is the Justice League breakout character some insiders have said he’ll be, Flashpoint creates the same problem with the Europe-sinking version of his character.
Solution: So have fun with it.
Go big. Gal Gadot and Jason Momoa as rival warlords could be a lot of fun. Fight the urge to be grim and embrace a certain level of camp. This shouldn’t be too hard. After all, The Flash, Arrow, Legends of Tomorrow, and Agents of SHIELD have all had success playing around with evil versions of their various heroes in the last few years. Letting Gadot and Momoa have some fun with their evil selves could make it more fun for the audience, and not oppressively dark as viewers might worry.
It could also help to take a “less is more” approach with those two. Which brings us to…
3. Lots of Characters
Problem: The Flashpoint comic covered nearly the entire DC Universe. Even a slimmed down version, like the animated movie, features a lot of the core DC characters. The movie would become like Civil War, which was technically a Cap solo movie but played more like Avengers 2.5. For this movie, you’d need Ezra Miller, Gal Gadot, Jason Momoa, Ray Fisher, possibly whoever is playing the old and young Billy Batsons from Shazam!, and probably a brief appearance by Ben Affleck. That could pose a scheduling challenge, and result in an overstuffed cast for the first Flash-centric movie.
Solution: Focus on a few key characters. Save the rest for big sequences, like Civil War’s centerpiece airport fight. For the bulk of the movie, focus on Barry, Eobard, and the comic’s big break-out character…
…the Flashpoint Batman, who turns out to be Thomas Wayne, lashing out at crime following the death of his son. Jeffrey Dean Morgan, who briefly appeared as Thomas Wayne in Batman v Superman, has expressed interest in reprising the role to be Flashpoint Batman. Whether they include the twist about what happened to Martha Wayne in the wake of young Bruce’s death is up to them, though there might not be time.
4. The Reboot Question
Problem: People hear the title and assume this is an attempt to reboot the DCEU, which admittedly has had its issues thus far. After the announcement, there were questions flying around about whether Flashpoint would be the way Warner Bros. replaced Ben Affleck as Batman, even after he’d openly declared he wasn’t going anywhere.
The issue is, using this film to reboot the DCEU in order to undo the darker films it was built on doesn’t make a lot of sense. Sure, right now there’s only one unqualified success in the franchise, but by the time this movie would be released, there will have been Justice League, Aquaman, Shazam!, Wonder Woman 2. We may even have Batgirl and The Batman, seeing as those two already have at least directors in place, whereas Flashpoint still lacks an official creative team. It seems highly unlikely that Warner Bros. would invest hundreds of millions of dollars into these six movies just to reboot the entire franchise, especially since they must be hoping for at least one Wonder Woman-level success. Say, Wonder Woman 2, for instance.
Solution: Just blow it off.
Really there’s not much anyone can do here. Every Flashpoint story to date has altered things, from the New 52 reboot, to bringing the animated universe more in line with the New 52, to altering the histories of both Central and Star Cities. As a result, questions about rebooting the DCEU will continue until Flashpoint is released.
So just make a joke of it.
Say something like Dr. Manhattan (revealed in DC Rebirth as the one behind the altered history of the New 52) hasn’t set his sights on the film universe just yet, and then let the fan theories do what they’re going to do.
At this point, all we really know about Flashpoint is the title. As the studio locks down writers and a director, we’ll hopefully hear more about how they’ll tackle this complex, but possibly epic, Flash story.
Images: DC Comics and Warner Bros.