With DC’s extended universe being mostly fractured and disjointed due to years of playing catch up, directorial differences, reboots and other behind-the-scenes shenanigans, it is fitting that The Flash (2023) with Andy Muschietti at the helm, adapts arguably one of the Flash’s greatest stories for the speedster’s return to the silver screen. Of course, I’m referring to the Flashpoint Paradox, which has already been adapted into an excellent animated film with 2013’s Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox.
The Flash (2023) loosely follows the events of that comic and movie while making sure to put its own spin on things. Taking place sometime after the events of the Justice League (2017), The Flash opens with a somewhat disillusioned Barry Allen (Ezra Miller) as he is seen juggling between his duties as the titular hero and his day job as a forensic investigator.
After a rather fun scene during the first 30 minutes of the film, in which the audience gets to witness The Flash doing his thing in an elaborate slow-motion sequence set against the harrowing backdrop of a crumbling hospital. The Flash shows off its use of time-freezing prowess in a manner similar to some of the scenes featured in Wonder Woman (2017) while contextually actually making sense and aligning with the character’s skill set.
From here, we get some time to learn more about Barry’s past, as the character is seen talking to his father (Ron Livingston) on the phone, who is currently incarcerated for allegedly killing his wife and Barry’s mother (Maribel Verdú). Naturally, this sets up the film’s impetus as Barry soon after decides to go back into his own past in the hopes of saving his mom in a way that doesn’t ripple out of control.
Despite heeding Bruce’s words (Ben Affleck) and carefully altering past events, things go awry. Barry finds himself in an alternate timeline where he must contend with and teach a younger version of himself the ropes of being the Flash, while simultaneously facing the looming threat of Zod in a world without Superman (or most of the other Justice League, for that matter).
“…The Flash delivers a fun movie that should keep audiences entertained despite your familiarity with the titular hero.”
With recent Marvel movies fully embracing the craziness of alternate realities and universes, DC doesn’t let this opportunity slip by and uses Barry’s powers as the Flash to pay homage to not only Michael Keaton’s Batman, who replaces Affleck for most of the remainder of the film, but also DC’s past as a whole, including a few surprises I won’t get into, which at times, unfortunately, does feel a little forced but ultimately does more good than harm as far as the bigger picture is concerned.
If there is one thing The Flash (2023) does exceedingly well, it is its ability to not only do the Flashpoint Paradox story in a fun and exciting way that makes sense for the DCEU but do it in a way that catches the audience up to speed who may not entirely be familiar with Barry or The Flash.
Similarly, The Flash (2023) does a good job of balancing its humour with some of its more sombre moments without anything ever feeling cringe-inducing or melodramatic. This point is particularly true with scenes that feature both past and present Barry Allen on screen, with Ezra Miller doing his best Ted impression for the younger Flash, ala 1989’s Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, that somehow manages not to overstay its welcome.
Sasha Calle as SuperGirl is an interesting choice for the character that I wasn’t sure of before watching the movie, but now I can safely say that her performance feels like a breath of fresh air for the character and fits with the slightly off-kilter atmosphere The Flash (2023) tries to portray in its deep dive into alternate realities.
One area that The Flash (2023) sadly flounders is its use of CGI, which sometimes can be distractingly bad, mainly when characters are in the full frame against computer-generated backgrounds, taking away from the immersion. Ultimately, however, The Flash delivers a fun movie that should keep audiences entertained despite your familiarity with the titular hero.