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iFeature | The Fate of THE FLASH Hangs in the Balance

Warner Bros. and DC face a crisis of blockbuster proportions as the studios deliberate on the future of THE FLASH on the big screen and whether to sever their ties with the film’s star Ezra Miller in the wake of recent arrests, complaints, and all-around bad behavior.

Hear that sound? The sound that the multiverse makes upon diverging from its theoretical course of action — and the grimacing concerns of studio execs forced with having to make decisions that could either sink or swim one of their most anticipated properties, even before it had a chance to get out the gate. The “slap heard round the world” on Oscar Night wasn’t the only controversy shaking the Hollywood community, as not one but two celebrities chose very public forums in which to act less than heroic.

A-List marquee idol Will Smith took a cheap shot at comedian Chris Rock during the live Oscar telecast, over a joke Rock had made about Smith’s wife Jada Pinkett Smith’s bald head. Unbeknownst to the comic, Pinkett Smith suffers from a condition that causes her hair loss, which didn’t sit very well with the Oscar-nominated Will Smith. The outcome of the incident has since been decided with Will Smith resigning from the Academy and being exiled for 10-years from attending any Academy-hosted events; this does not however prevent Smith from being nominated or accepting any future accolades.

Meanwhile, on a not-to-distant shore off of Los Angels, Ezra Miller the star who portrays the lead in the big-screen superhero The Flash based on the DC Comics was arrested in Hawaii after causing an incident in a bar in Hilo and charged with disorderly conduct. The actor was also the subject of a restraining order. Miller has been accused of threatening a couple in their hotel suite, letting himself in, and taking personal items. According to the reports, Miller had also been “acting out” during the filming of The Flash — the film itself has been slated for a release date in June 2023, though it had been expected to hit theaters this year.

The multiple schedule changes and the shifts in production, do not bode well for the film helmed by director Andrés Muschietti, who inherited the property after the studio parted ways with the creative team that had originally been gathered to continue the adventures of the character, which made its cinematic debut in Zack Snyder’s Justice League. This iteration of the franchise had been reportedly intended to “reboot” the much-maligned DC Cinematic Universe, which can’t seem to get it right as compared to their competitors at Marvel Studios, which scored big with the recent multiversally-charged Spider-Man: No Way Home which starred the 3 actors who’ve played the web-head on screen.

An Inevitable FlashPoint

Miller had been championed to lead the charge to create a cohesive expanded theatrical universe. The Flash will also star Michael Keaton, reprising his role as Bruce Wayne/The Batman from his 1989 film, as well as feature several of his existing Justice League castmates including Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, and reportedly Jason Mamoa. It has been speculated that the film would essentially redact any of the previously established mythology, which is startlingly confusing since both Gadot and Mamoa have each movie sequels in the works for Wonder Woman and Aquaman respectively.

Although Warner Bros. and DC have proven that they are less interested in creating a singular serialized narrative for their theatrical features, as is evidenced by the recent critical success of Matt Reeve’s The Batman which introduced Robert Pattinson as the latest actor to assume the cape and cowl of the crime-fighting detective, and 2019s Joker starring Joaquin Phoenix. In fact, the DC expanded universe has already a proven track record, dominating the primetime and subscription-based landscape. The CW network has fashioned a serialized multiverse, currently led by the familiar Scarlet Speedster.

Since spinning out of his 2013 introduction in Arrow, Grant Gustin has portrayed CSI investigator Barry Allen and Central City’s The Flash for eight seasons. In the 5-part televised event “Crisis on Infinite Earths” based on the books that redefined the scope of the DC Comics multiverse, Grant’s Flash raced against time to save the parallel earths, and crossed paths with a Barry Allen from another universe; John Wesley Shipp reprised his role as the red-clad speedster when he played The Flash in the 1990 series that premiered on CBS. Miller’s Flash was also inserted into the mix, meeting Grant’s alter-ego.

Keeping Step

How the studio will move on following his arrest and Miller’s continuously unpredictable behavior, is still up in the air. Miller who is also part of the studio’s other major tentpole franchise, the Wizarding World’s Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore is set to premiere worldwide in theaters on April 15, and the actor was present at the London premiere, prior to the arrest in Hawaii, but the fans may feel that he’s tarnished the brand, and are ready to move on. Many have taken to social networking to suggest that perhaps Grant Gustin suit up and assume the big screen franchise as his own.

Fans have very affectionate expressed that Gustin would be the perfect candidate to step into the role, and if the film which has already wrapped primary production is concerned about re-shooting or having to shelve the project altogether, fans have suggested that at the film’s conclusion in FlashPoint fashion set up Gustin’s Flash and/or even suggest that John Wesley Shipp is also integrated into the resolution, suggest that a multiverse of Scarlet Speedsters exist!

It’s an interesting idea and would actually serve the future of both the cinematic and television franchises spectacularly. Gustin is currently in the midst of wrapping up the Eight Season of The CW series, which has since introduced many of the hero’s legacy characters including Wally West (Keiynan Lonsdale) and most recently the dynamic duo of XS (Jessica Parker Kennedy) and Impulse (Jordan Fisher), both of which were paired up with John Wesley Shipp who also plays the “Golden Age” original speedster, Jay Garrick on The Flash, but also on its sister series DC’s Stargirl.

With The CW’s The Flash among one of only a handful of DC primetime series renewed for a Ninth Season, and the fate of the tangent “Arrowverse” series as yet undetermined, Grant Gustin could exit the show next year as The Flash hits theaters, passing the baton to the next generation, opening a path for many of the established television cast of characters to transition to the big screen if the story warrants it, and connect the multiverses in a creatively practical way. It would inject some vitality into the primetime universe, and provide some much-needed stability to the movie franchises.

However the controversy resolves itself, the uncertainty of not one, but several multi-million blockbusters hang in the balance. Whatever professional consequence the studios decide to deal upon Ezra Miller, the greater uncertainty awaits the hundreds of individuals who had dedicated themselves to bringing The Flash to the big screen for fans. In the meantime, as Warner Bros. and DC deliberate on the fate of Ezra Miller’s future in the franchise(s), tune in to Grant Gustin’s The Flash on The CW which continues in its Eighth Season, with Season Nine already greenlit to go.

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