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(L-R) Ezra Miller as The Flash, Michael Keaton as Batman and Ezra Miller as The Flash in The Flash. They’re in the cramped cockpit of the Batwing, with Batman in the pilot’s seat and the two Flashes sitting next to each other behind him. Image: Warner Bros.

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Every superhero cameo in The Flash explained, from the obvious to the obscure

From Batman to Superman to... another Batman to another Superman

Susana Polo is an entertainment editor at Polygon, specializing in pop culture and genre fare, with a primary expertise in comic books. Previously, she founded The Mary Sue.

Anybody who’s seen an ad for The Flash knows he’s not the only superhero in it — there are multiple Batmans! And Supergirl! But you can’t have a multiverse without alternate versions of superheroes, and Warner Bros.’ latest DC Comics film is filled with cameo appearances.

Some are very familiar, but others are very obscure indeed. So here’s every superhero who appears in The Flash other than Barry Allen, and what they’re a reference to. And, just for fun, I, Polygon’s comics expert, will assign them the universe of the DC Comics multiverse in which they’d feel the most at home.

[Ed. note: This piece contains universe-sized spoilers for The Flash.]


ben affleck as batman in batman v superman dawn of justice Image: Warner Bros. Pictures

Played by: Ben Affleck
First appearance: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

This is an easy one, it was in the trailers! Ben Affleck returns as Batman for likely the final time (pending an Aquaman 2 cameo), offering a fatherly shoulder to a lonely and conflicted Barry Allen.

What Earth should he live on: The universe of Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns, obviously. It’s the existing DC Earth that most clearly inspired director Zack Snyder in creating his costume and vibe.


Henry Cavill in Man of Steel, wearing his Superman outfit and hunched over, exhausted Image: Warner Bros. Pictures

Played by: What appears to be a CGI double made to look like Henry Cavill
First appearance: Man of Steel

There’s no actual Henry Cavill appearance in The Flash, as there was in last year’s Black Adam. We get a look at the back of Superman’s head in some news footage — but hey! It’s an acknowledgement of his existence.

What Earth should he live on: Prime Earth, the earth that DC rebooted itself into in 2011. That Superman had a short, spectacular life of adventures, starting his superhero career in cuffed jeans and a Superman t-shirt before going out in a blaze of glory and being replaced with a more classic incarnation of the character — which seems like the same road Cavill’s Superman is on at the moment.

Wonder Woman

Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman walks away from Shazam and flips her hair in Fury of the Gods Image: Warner Bros. Pictures

Played by: Gal Gadot
First appearance: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

This Gal Gadot appearance marks the second one-scene cameo the very game actress has made in a DC film this year, but it will likely be the last we’ll see of her Wonder Woman. And probably the last we’ll see of Wonder Woman on the big or small screen for a good while, at least until Warner Bros.’ Paradise Lost, a TV series about the Amazon island of Themyscira, debuts.

What Earth should she live on: Earth 11, the earth where everyone is at the opposite end of the gender spectrum than they are in the main DCU, and Amazonian values are the accepted norm. Let her be Superwoman or Batwoman and wear flat shoes.


Michael Keaton and Kim Basinger as Batman and Vicki Vale in Batman. Image: Warner Bros. Pictures

Played by: Michael Keaton
First appearance: Batman (1989)

Michael Keaton’s return to the role of Batman has been all over the trailers for The Flash and honestly… he sells it! Sure, his face is CGI-ed on in most of the action scenes, but he and his Batman have a real “sure, why not, fuck it,” energy that I appreciate.

What Earth should he live on: The obvious answer would be the Flashpoint timeline, which inspired the character, but let’s be more creative. I say Earth 12, the Batman Beyond universe. Get this Batman a big dog named Ace and let him beat up Jokerz with a cane. He seems like he would enjoy it.


Ezra Miller as Young Barry looks goofy as he takes cell phone video of Sasha Calle’s Supergirl flying by the plane he’s in in The Flash. Image: Warner Bros. Pictures

Played by: Sasha Calle
First appearance: The Flash

It would be intimidating to pick up a dark version of Supergirl right after Melissa Benoist’s cheery and beloved incarnation from The CW series. But Sasha Calle doesn’t just do a lot with a little, she also nails the superhuman physicality. The stances, the leaps — the way to hold yourself so you look like you’re flying under your own power, not just hanging uselessly on a wire above a soundstage.

What Earth should she live on: Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow, set in the far reaches of space in the universe known as Prime Earth. Let this spunky, grumpy Supergirl have her True Grit moment.


A black and white portrait photo of George Reeves as Superman, as he looks into the distance in that serene Superman way. Photo: Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Played by: George Reeves
First appearance: Adventures of Superman (1952)

Though largely forgotten by anyone under the age of 60, there were Superman adaptations before Christopher Reeve donned the tights in Richard Donner’s 1978 movie. George Reeves’ TV Superman wasn’t even the first, but his show ran for most of the 1950s, claiming its place in the Superman zeitgeist. It was eventually canceled, not due to lack of popularity but due to Reeves’ shocking death, a bit of a spooky note to Flash’s colorful Chronobowl climax.

What Earth should he live on: No jokes on this one. It’s a sad story.

Jay Garrick/The Flash

Teddy Sears as Jay Garrick (but actually Hunter Zolomon) in The Flash on the CW. Image: Warner Bros. Television

Played by: Unknown
First appearance: The CW’s The Flash TV series

Deep in the Chronobowl chaos of The Flash’s climax, you can catch a glimpse of another speedster (that’s comic book slang for a superhero whose deal is that they move really fast) in a Hermes-style hat. He’s a dead ringer for Jay Garrick, the first DC Comics character to bear the mantle of the Flash. But wait, you ask, what movie is he from? The answer is he’s not.

This Jay Garrick is played by Teddy Sears, who played a version of Garrick in The Flash TV series on the CW. His character was (twist!) eventually revealed only to be pretending to be Jay Garrick, though, and was actually a supervillain. But his appearance in The Flash doesn’t seem to imply anything so sinister.

Update: Despite widespread rumors to the contrary, Sears was not actually involved with The Flash. According to TVLine, the actor notes that the cameo does look like him, but that he did not film any footage for the production. It seems at this point that The Flash’s Jay Garrick cameo was pure CGI.

What Earth should he live on: There’s one real answer to this, and it’s Earth-Two, home of the original Justice Society — the wartime superhero team that inspired the Justice League — of which Garrick is a founding member.


Christopher Reeve as Superman faces Margot Kidder as Lois Lane, with a small quirky smile on his face in Superman (1978). Image: Warner Bros. Pictures

Played by: Christopher Reeve
First appearance: Superman (1978)

There’s no actor more synonymous with Superman than Christopher Reeve. Old clips of him changing from Clark Kent to Kal-El with a mere shift of his stance still regularly go viral. If you’re going to put past cinematic Supermans in your movie he’s the one to get (a CGI recreation of, since the actor has unfortunately paralyzed in 1995 and passed away in 2004).

What Earth should he live on: Thematically, he should be in the paradise dimension that Superman, Lois Lane, and Superboy found refuge in at the end of Crisis on Infinite Earths.


Helen Slater as Supergirl, blonde hair billowing in the breeze, in Supergirl (1984). Image: Warner Bros. Pictures

Played by: Helen Slater
First appearance: Supergirl (1984)

1984’s Supergirl was theoretically linked to Reeve’s Superman movies, which is why in The Flash, you’ll see these two standing next to each other. But while his character is acknowledged, Reeve doesn’t actually appear in it (much like Henry Cavill in The Flash), and the movie is… I mean the best you could say about it is that it’s very strange. Supergirl deserves better, and hopefully she’ll get it soon.

What Earth should she live on: Earth 12, the DC Animated Universe. This Supergirl deserves a better run at things, and deserves to get out of the ’80s. Let her hang out in big 1990s boots and a crop top, punching stuff. I would love that for her.


Adam West and Burt Ward as Batman and Robin, stand in a library talking with Commissioner Gordon and Chief O’Hara in Batman (1966). Image: Warner Bros. Television

Played by: Adam West
First appearance: Batman (1966)

Some days you just can’t get rid of a Chronobowl: The Flash skips lightly back in time over a few live-action cinematic Batmans to reach 1966’s Adam West Batman. We only see him for a chronosecond, so that his goofy glory can’t overwhelm the movie’s more serious climax, but I guess the Bale and Pattinson Batmans weren’t up for it?

What Earth should he live on: This one’s easy: Earth 66! The earth of the 1966 Batman TV series!


Nic Cage dressed as Superman standing in front of a giant spider Source images: Warner Bros. Pictures; Graphic: Matt Patches/Polygon

Played by: Nicolas Cage
First appearance: Never had one!

Nicolas Cage’s Superman is undoubtedly the most obscure version of the character appearing in this motion picture. And that’s because he’s never actually been in a movie. He’s appearing in The Flash as the never-actually-minted 1990s Superman that Cage was once set to star as. What’s up with the giant spider? It’s a long story.

What Earth should he live on: A Superman movie that never exists deserves the same turn. He should be the Superman of Neal Adams’ Batman: Odyssey books. If you’ve read Batman: Odyssey, you know this is perfect, and if you haven’t, I couldn’t possibly explain it.


batman & robin - chris o’donnell and george clooney Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures

Played by: George Clooney
First appearance: Batman & Robin

George Clooney’s Batman gets a bad rap for its camp quality. Batman & Robin went full-bore silly just as the collective gay panic of the 1990s was popularizing the term “metrosexual” for straight men who paid attention to their appearance. But if you ask this writer, he’s one of the best performances of Bruce Wayne out there — soulful but not broody, serious but with Silver Age Batman’s dry wit. He appears here either as the new Batman of the Snyderverse or… as just another reference to DC movies past. We can’t really know until The Flash gets a sequel, if it ever does.

What Earth should he live on: The 60-something, silver fox Clooney would make a great canny, elder Batman of Earth 22, the universe of Mark Waid and Alex Ross’ Kingdom Come.


Aquaman - Aquaman holding a trident standing in front of a waterfall Image: Warner Bros. Pictures

Played by: Jason Momoa
First appearance: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

It would barely be a superhero movie without a post-credits scene that reminds the audience of the next film coming down the line. Which, in this case, is Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, hitting theaters in December.

What Earth should he live on: Earth 18. Look, Jason Momoa is already having so much fun being Aquaman, there’s very little one could do to make it more fun. Except — maybe — to put him in Earth 18, the Earth where all the DC heroes are cowboys and gunslingers. Yee-haw.


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