The moment of truth is speeding towards the DCU in the shape of The Flash – a movie mired in controversy from within and without. And now a screening of the unfinished film at CinemaCon yesterday has drawn mostly rave reviews, following up on a positive reaction from noted influencer Tom Cruise.
(For an account of other films previewed at CinemaCon, we’ll direct you to THR’s report. )
Now bear in mind, early screenings for film sites always get rave reviews. Veteran tea leaf readers can spot the difference between half hearted positive comments, and actual raves, but, to be fair, the Flash has been getting good buzz for a while now. Could it be that it’s actually a fun film?
THR has theater owners reax, and they are very bullish on the movie. Here’s a sampling of journalist reactions via the twitter:
Therese Lacson: I was surprised by #TheFlashMovie and how ambitious it was. It has strong performances and hits the emotional beats on the head. But it’s also bloated at times and jam-packed with Easter eggs. Still, it’s entertaining and energetic, I look forward to seeing the final version.
Daniel Howat: #TheFlash is massively entertaining! Extraordinarily funny, but still has solid emotional stakes. It’s one of the better multiverse movies out there. Tons of fun surprises. A genuinely superb superhero movie – one of the best in a long time! Very, very satisfying. #CinemaCon
Brandon Davis: Damn, #TheFlash is good! It’s super inventive both visually and in concept. The dynamic of two Barry Allen’s is crazy well done.
Emotions hit me intensely hard, solid surprises, and it got me wanting to watch again and really eager to see how they follow it. Well done.
Umberto Gonzales: BELIEVE THE HYPE! Christopher Nolan movies aside, #TheFlashMovie is the GREATEST DC movie of the last 30 years that belongs in the same conversation as SUPERMAN 78 and BATMAN 89. The movie breaks incredible new ground in superhero cinema & honors DC lore of years past. #TheFlash
Germain Lussier: Yup. #TheFlash is as good as rumored. It’s Back to the Future meets Spider-Man: No Way Home with all the humor & heart of the former and action and surprises of the latter. If anything, it might be a tad too ambitious but it’s also just incredibly satisfying, heartwarming & fun.
Jordan Hoffman: THE FLASH: far more madcap than I expected. Really nailed what reading a 5-issue crossover comic book is like. Tons of Ezra Miller being zany and time paradox stuff. Nerds will lose their minds at the ending. And beginning and middle. Comics!
Joshua Yehl: I thought #TheFlash was pretty great, with some caveats. You’ll have to wait for my @IGN review for more details.
JoBlo: Just out of #TheFlash at CinemaCon. Believe the hype folks – truly one of the great superhero movies. Ezra Miller (x2), Sasha Calle and MICHAEL KEATON. It’s pretty perfect and one of the best films of this type you could ever hope to see.
But some were not as taken with it.
Scott Mendelson: The first act is solid (the curtain raiser is an all-timer) but #TheFlashMovie gets bogged down in exposition and retroactive origin rehashes, with (eventually) empty spectacle that aggresively reminds you of the very movie that got WB into this mess ten years ago.
Rebecca Rubin: The Flash is… not one of the greatest superhero movies ever. Parts are funny and fun, but I was completely exhausted by the second hour. It took me at least 5 minutes to recognize Michael Keaton, though, so do with that what you will. #CinemaCon
Steven Wintraub: THE FLASH: First hr is pretty fantastic. Strikes the perfect tone. Ezra is great. Heroic. Funny. Emotional. The last hr is MOSTLY terrible. Just an utter mess that’ll leave you asking, “what the HELL is going on?” Fan service & DC villain problem strike again. Mixed bag overall.
And The Ankler’s Jeff Sneider gave a warning: Just scanned initial reactions. Embarrassing. I’m embarrassed for my profession. Not even a whiff of criticism. A bunch of easy lays, I tell ya. There are only a handful of critical voices you can trust these days. It’s sad. And yes, I know this tweet is going to get me killed…
Sneider also delivered this sick burn:
AQUAMAN AND THE LOST KINGDOM looks like a movie that someone watched and then they picked up the phone and said "Siri, call James Gunn."
— Jeff Sneider (@TheInSneider) April 25, 2023
To be honest, and not having seen The Flash, most of these reactions could just be from having seen the trailer, which…I guess this is actually a Batman movie? Everyone is happy to see Michael Keaton again, and throw in a little Batfleck and a Supergirl who doesn’t wear a skirt, and you have elements that will excite the interests of any DC fan.
This still doesn’t solve The Ezra Miller Problem. The end credits scenes weren’t included in the screening, so some other Earth’s Flash could still take over the role…or maybe not? According to director Andy Muschietti, a sequel is not IMpossible even in the new “Gunniverse” because… the Multiverse makes all things possible:
We didn’t talk about it. I think that we’re all waiting to see how this movie does. Of course, there’s excitement about continuing the story, especially if this movie is successful. Of course, there’s an architecture in DC that is brewing and it’s being created. And the question is, will this new architecture absorb this story? The good thing about the multiverse is that it is possible. The multiverse allows all of these different worlds to coexist and interact, and so, hopefully, yes, I mean, we don’t know yet. That’s the truth.
Just to recap where we’re at with this never ending saga of the WB’s attempts to counter the MCU, it’s been a DECADE – yes a DECADE!!!! – since Man of Steel came out, and started the bizarre, twisting tale of Zack Snyder, Joss Whedon, Ray Fisher, Kevin Tsujihara, Henry Cavill, Ben Affleck, SnyderBros, the Ayer cut, AT&T, Ezra Miller, James Gunn, Walter Hamada, Geoff Johns, Dwayne Johnson, Black Adam, and Shazam, just to name some of the more prominent players.
Warner’s fundamental problem is that while they’re waiting for the James Gunn/Peter Safran slate to begin, they had four movies to release from the OLD timeline in 2023, logjammed together by pandemic delays. Shazam 2 is already a dud, making less at the box office than Morbius even. Blue Beetle is a late summer lagniappe…spared Batgirl’s fate but left to fend for itself in theaters. Aquaman 2 is said to be somewhat awful by those who have seen it, with rumored reshoots attempting to salvage things.
The Flash, like Aquaman 2, has been in the can for years, but was initially planned to debut in June 2022 and launch a whole multiverse of stories. It contains several Flashes – a nod to the very origins of comic book continuity Flash of Two Worlds – a bunch of Batmans and at least one Wonder Woman. As we’ve seen from both Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse, and Spider-Man: No Way Home, folks seem to love seeing different or older versions of beloved characters on screen, at least when Marvel does them.
While the post-Snyder DCEU delivered many entertaining films – Wonder Woman, Shazam, the first Aquaman, The Suicide Squad and Bird of Prey (I liked it!) – the disasters seem to outweigh the good in the popular mind given the general melodrama surrounding it. The Flash has had so many delays, so many threads from the abandoned Snyderverse to tie up, so many legal issues for star Ezra Miller…that it might turn out to be an okay film never seemed to enter the equation. Maybe the Flash entering the Speed Force really IS a great movie moment.
It took a lot of guts for Warners to screen The Flash so publicly two months before its June 16th opening, and a refreshing confidence in their own IP that has been lacking many times in the past. Whether the hype can translate to ticket sales, and whether Miller can overcome their mental problems long enough to survive the publicity barrage…well, that will be another chapter in the Incredible True Story of the DCU.
One thing I do know: DC COMICS should sell a lot of copies of Flashpoint (affiliate link), the graphic novel by Geoff Johns and Andy Kubert that is actually one of the better superhero stories of its era, one that combines real emotional heft with the craziness of the multiverse. That story is the backbone premise of the Flash movie, and given the recent marketing synergy between the studio and the comics publishing, it’s another thing we’re going to be watching.
All multiverse all the time, will render very popular super heroes to be a confusing mélange of characterless stuffed costumes.
I feel like every DC movie gets the same early, enthusiastic reviews and then the movie comes out and it’s just as unimpressive as all the previous ones.
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