EDITORIAL: How ‘The Flash’ on TV Means WB Must Ensure a Good Movie

By April 10, 2015
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Comic book fans are enjoying one of the most prolific periods ever when it comes to the adaptation of their favorite characters in other media, and it’s plain to see pretty much everywhere you look. Batman is poised to hit with a new, blockbuster video game coming this June, in just a few short weeks we’ll be seeing a new Avengers film with an all-star cast and an influential writer/director, and every week we can tune in to major television networks to watch the latest exploits of the “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” the skilled “Arrow,” or the speedster “The Flash.”

Man of Steel, the only released entry in the new DC Cinematic Universe so far, must stand as a lesson of things to avoid in a new Flash movie.

Man of Steel, the only released entry in the new DC Cinematic Universe so far, must stand as a lesson of things to avoid in a new Flash movie.

Now, that last one in particular is an important one, because as Barry Allen is being exploited on television with a critically acclaimed series and a wonderful actor to embody him, Warner Bros. Pictures is also preparing a feature film version of the character to be featured alongside characters like Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, and more in a brand new cinematic universe revolving around DC’s premiere superhero team, the Justice League. In a continuity established by 2013’s Man of Steel, 2016’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad will open the proverbial floodgates to new and classic DC Comics characters being exploited in live-action for the first time, while other returning characters are expected to fit into this new world for years to come.

There’s a little bit of a problem, though: hopefully as intended — but possibly not — “The Flash” on the CW Network has become a critical darling, with characters like Barry, Captain Cold, Heat Wave, the Trickster, and Professor Zoom becoming part of the genre’s mainstream due to the effective efforts of the writers and actors on the show. In 2013, Man of Steel was a solid box office success, but received mixed reviews from fans and critics alike. Because of the success of the TV version of “The Flash,” WB can’t afford to stumble with the upcoming film version, due out in March of 2018 starring Ezra Miller as the titular character. If they do, and the film isn’t at least as good as some of the best episodes of the show, then Warner Bros. could inadvertently ruin the whole brand before the film gets out of the starting gate at the box office.

To that end, it looks like the studio is preparing for the right outcome. According to Variety, the writing/directing duo of Phil Lord and Chris Miller — who most recently helped to create the massive WB success known as The Lego Movie — will be creating the story upon which the film will be based. This already shows that WB is likely going in the right direction with the character’s film, because while the Flash can often be at the center of some of the most important dramatic elements of the DC Comics Universe, he is a fundamentally different character from someone like Superman or Batman.

Grant Gustin's portrayal of Barry Allen on CW's "The Flash" will leave some heavy shoes to fill for Ezra Miller.

Grant Gustin’s portrayal of Barry Allen on CW’s “The Flash” will leave some heavy shoes to fill for Ezra Miller.

Barry Allen still has his darker moments like anyone, but the main tenors of the best Flash comics stories revolve around fun and adventure. Lord and Miller’s previous work on films like Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs21 Jump Street, and The Lego Movie all show that the duo exceed very well in showing audiences fun.

Some of the primary complaints about Man of Steel was that it was just too dour. Noted DC Comics writer Mark Waid — who has written some of the most critically acclaimed stories for both Superman and the Flash — may be the biggest Superman fan on the planet, but was immensely disappointed by the film. He starts his very honest and informed review by saying, “At its emotional climax, at the moment of Superman’s ultimate ‘victory,’ Man of Steel broke my heart. I mean, absolutely snapped it clean in half.”

Much like Waid, many fans seemed to feel that David Goyer’s script simply missed the mark in an effective, modern portrayal of the DC Comics icon. Because of “The Flash’s” success on television, though, the studio can’t afford a similar misstep, simply because there’s more at stake here.

“The Flash” is only just ending its first season, and if it continues its successful run, it will be winding down its fourth when the film is ultimately released. There’s a lot of time there for the show to stumble, but hey: call me an optimist. The Flash is a character with such a rich, vibrant storytelling history in comics, television, and animation, that I have a hard time seeing the writers and creators running out of material any time soon. For the sake of the show’s integrity, though, Warner Bros. must ensure that the main tenets of the character, as have been established over the last few decades by gifted comics creators like Mark Waid, Geoff Johns, Francis Manapul, and Brian Buccellato, stays intact for the upcoming film.

Here’s hoping — and believing — that Phil Lord and Chris Miller are the ones that are up to the task.

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Chris Clow
As a former comics retailer at a store in the Pacific Northwest, Chris Clow is an enormous sci-fi, comics, and film geek. He is a freelance contributor, reviewer, podcaster, and overall geek to GeekNation, Batman-On-Film.com, The Huffington Post, and Movies.com. He also hosts the monthly Comics on Consoles broadcast and podcast. Check out his blog, and follow him on Twitter @ChrisClow.
  • YAmendola

    no superhero movie is really ever going to top spider man

  • Thomas

    2018?? that’s so far away!

  • Doddyboy

    tbh I don’t really like the show

  • Clara

    oooo this better be a good one! superhero movies are getting wild