Warner Bros. announced this weekend that its upcoming, stand-alone Flash movie will be known as Flashpoint, sending fans and reporters into an emotional spiral, questioning everything they thought they knew.
Flashpoint isn’t just the name of a movie; it also symbolizes what could be the biggest change to come to the DC Cinematic Universe since its first film.
Before we dig in, here’s what you need to know about DC Comics’ Flashpoint storyline. It debuted in May 2011 and, by the end of its run, it changed the universally understood aspects of the DC Universe so much that it led to the DC’s relaunch dubbed the New 52.
In Flashpoint, Barry Allen (Flash) finds himself in a DC Universe full of large and small changes, but only he is aware of the differences. Cyborg, for example, has become the world’s exemplary superhero while Superman is being held captive by the government in an underground lab somewhere in Metropolis.
Perhaps the biggest change Flashpoint introduced involves Batman. In the comics, Thomas Wayne becomes a version of the vigilante following the death of his son, Bruce. His wife, Martha Wayne, ends up becoming a version of the Joker. Eventually, Flash discovers that all the changes are the butterfly effect result of his own actions — when he tried to change his own past so that his mother would not have been murdered.
Barry worked to undo the damage he’d done, but couldn’t restore everything. The result was the New 52’s DC Universe.
To say that the five-issue arc of Flashpoint (61 if you count all the tie-ins) fundamentally changed the DC Universe would be an understatement, but what does this mean for the movies? The biggest rumor in circulation regards Batman, specifically Ben Affleck’s version of the character. Prior to San Diego Comic-Con, The Hollywood Reporter published a piece claiming that Warner Bros. executives were looking for a way to oust Affleck.
“[A] source with knowledge of the situation says that the studio is working on plans to usher out Affleck’s Batman — gracefully, addressing the change in some shape or form in one of the upcoming DC films,” according to the article.
Affleck was asked about the character on stage at Comic-Con and the actor said he loved playing Batman and wasn’t intending to go anywhere anytime soon. “Batman is the coolest fucking part in any universe,” Affleck said. “[I] would be a fucking ape on the ground for [director] Matt Reeves."
Still, Flashpoint could change all of that. The Hollywood Reporter’s article said the change would come in one of Warner Bros. and DC’s upcoming films. Flashpoint has all the ingredients to restart the DCU if chief creative officer Geoff Johns — who also wrote the core Flashpoint miniseries — wanted to. Unlike Marvel’s continuous canon, the DC Universe has always gone through cycles of reboots and rebirths about every twenty or so years.
This is where everyone starts losing their minds: the timeline. If Flashpoint does reboot the DCU, instead of the Flash franchise that is almost certain to exist in the next few years, how do Wonder Woman, Justice League, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Suicide Squad and Man of Steel fit in? Wonder Woman is one of the most successful movies Warner Bros. has released as part of its DC Universe, making a radical change seem far less likely than some people believe.
This is why we think Flashpoint will exist as a stand-alone entity within the DCU. That means Affleck probably won’t be involved, even while he continues to play the character in The Batman and possibly other DC movies. Flashpoint will more likely address the story arc all within the film and then bring it back to the main DCU somehow. Warner Bros. gets exactly what it needs in that moment.
The other issue with Flashpoint arc is that it’s inherently a darker arc. The whole thing exists because of a selfish decision Barry made, causing the world to become bleak, paranoid and overall a lot colder. If Warner Bros. really does want to try and lighten the mood, reportedly bringing Joss Whedon to Justice League to do just that, then going with Flashpoint as the main story arc for the future of the DCU seems like a terrible decision.
Johns has spoken before about how some characters need to bring hope and optimism to the DCU — Wonder Woman is a perfect example of going against the trend set by Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad — but the creative director has also spoken about how he doesn’t think the universe needs to change.
“Wonder Woman celebrated exactly who the character is, but looking at it, it’s not like we should change everything to be about hope and optimism,” Johns told Variety. “There’s nothing to change. That’s what these characters are.”
We don’t know what Flashpoint is going to do for the DCU. The movie is still a few years away from being released and it doesn’t have a writer or director yet. This movie could do several things for the DCU or simply just co-exist alongside the other films.
For now, all we can do is wait. Flashpoint, which will see Ezra Miller reprise his role as the speedster, does not have a release date at this time.