The Flash
The Flash (film) logo.jpg
Official logo
Directed byAndy Muschietti
Screenplay byChristina Hodson
Story by
Based onCharacters
from DC
Produced by
Starring
CinematographyHenry Braham
Edited byPaul Machliss
Music byBenjamin Wallfisch
Production
companies
Distributed byWarner Bros. Pictures
Release date
  • June 23, 2023 (2023-06-23)
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$200 million[1]

The Flash is an upcoming American superhero film based on the DC Comics character of the same name. Produced by DC Films, Double Dream, and The Disco Factory, and set for distribution by Warner Bros. Pictures, it is intended to be the 14th film in the DC Extended Universe (DCEU). The film is directed by Andy Muschietti from a screenplay by Christina Hodson and stars Ezra Miller as Barry Allen / The Flash alongside Ron Livingston, Michael Keaton, Kiersey Clemons, Michael Shannon, Antje Traue, Sasha Calle, and Ben Affleck. In the film, Barry travels back in time to prevent his mother's murder, which brings unintended consequences.

Development of a film based on the Flash began in the late 1980s, with multiple writers and directors attached to the project through 2014. The film was then redeveloped as a part of the DCEU, with Miller cast as the title character. Multiple directors were attached to the film over the following years, with Seth Grahame-Smith, Rick Famuyiwa, and the duo of John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein each departing the project due to creative differences. Muschietti and Hodson joined the film in July 2019, and pre-production began in January 2020. The film is influenced by the comic book storyline Flashpoint, featuring multiple DC Comics characters including both Affleck and Keaton reprising their respective versions of Batman. Filming took place from April to October 2021 at Warner Bros. Studios, Leavesden, and on location around the United Kingdom.

The Flash is scheduled to be released in the United States on June 23, 2023, following multiple delays caused by the director changes and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Premise

Barry Allen travels back in time to prevent his mother's murder, which brings unintended consequences to his timeline.[2]

Cast

Further information: List of DC Extended Universe cast members and Characters of the DC Extended Universe

Maribel Verdú portrays Nora Allen, Barry's mother who was murdered in his youth.[15] Temuera Morrison, who portrays Aquaman's father Thomas Curry in the DCEU Aquaman films,[16] is also expected to be in the film.[17] Additionally, Saoirse-Monica Jackson, Rudy Mancuso, and Luke Brandon Field have been cast in undisclosed roles.[5][18] A young version of Superman is also expected to appear in the film.[19]

Production

Development

Early attempts

Development of a film based on the DC Comics character the Flash began in the late 1980s when Warner Bros. hired comic book writer Jeph Loeb to write a screenplay.[20] Warner Bros. hired David S. Goyer to write, direct, and produce a new version of The Flash in December 2004 after he impressed them with his script for Batman Begins (2005).[21][22] Goyer approached Ryan Reynolds to portray Wally West / The Flash after working with him on the Marvel Comics-based film Blade: Trinity (2004), and intended to have the character Barry Allen appear in a supporting role. Goyer was influenced for the film's tone by Sam Raimi's Spider-Man trilogy and the Flash comic book runs by Mike Baron, Mark Waid, and Geoff Johns. By early February 2007, Goyer left the project due to creative differences with the studio,[22][23] and Shawn Levy was hired to direct and oversee the writing of a new draft written by Chris Brancato, which used elements from Goyer's script.[24][25] Later that month, Warner Bros. announced the development of a Justice League film with Michelle and Kieran Mulroney writing the screenplay.[26] George Miller signed on to direct the film, entitled Justice League: Mortal, in September,[27] with Adam Brody cast as the Flash.[28] It was envisioned as the start of a franchise with planned sequels and spin-offs, including the Flash film.[27]

Levy left The Flash in October 2007 due to scheduling conflicts with Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian (2009). David Dobkin took over as director and began developing the film as a spin-off from Justice League: Mortal with a focus on Wally West.[29] Craig Wright was writing a script for the film the next month,[30] before Justice League: Mortal was canceled and Warner Bros. set a 2008 release for The Flash.[31] Further development was delayed due to the 2007–2008 Writers Guild of America strike.[32] Charles Roven joined the project as a producer by July 2009, with Geoff Johns consulting and writing a film treatment that Dan Mazeau adapted into a screenplay.[33] In October, Roven said the studio was not confident enough in their take to greenlight the film, though Mazeau disputed this and said the film was moving forward as planned.[34] In June 2010, Green Lantern (2011) writers Greg Berlanti, Michael Green, and Marc Guggenheim were hired to write a new treatment for The Flash based on a recent comics run by Johns that featured Barry Allen.[35]

DC Extended Universe

Actor Ezra Miller at the 2017 San Diego Comic-Con
Actor Ezra Miller at the 2017 San Diego Comic-Con

Warner Bros. was planning a new shared universe of films based on DC Comics by July 2013, and had tentative plans to release a Flash film in 2016.[36] In October 2014, Warner Bros. and DC Films announced a slate of planned projects as part of the new DC Extended Universe (DCEU). The Flash was set for release on March 23, 2018,[37] with Ezra Miller set to star in the film as Barry Allen / The Flash;[3][37] Miller first made cameo appearances in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) and Suicide Squad (2016),[38][39] starred in the team-up film Justice League (2017),[37] and briefly appeared in the Arrowverse crossover event "Crisis on Infinite Earths" (2019–20) which acknowledged a wider DC Multiverse.[9] Warner Bros. offered James Wan the choice of directing a movie about either Aquaman or the Flash, and he ultimately chose to make Aquaman (2018).[40] By April 2015, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller were writing a story treatment for the Flash film with the possibility of directing it.[41] After they decided to direct Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) instead, Seth Grahame-Smith entered negotiations to write and direct the film based on Lord and Miller's treatment in October 2015. Grahame-Smith was set to make his directorial debut with the film, with Roven producing, and Deborah and Zack Snyder executive producing.[42] In February 2016, the film's release date was moved forward to March 16, 2018.[43] Grahame-Smith left the project that April, citing creative differences. Warner Bros. chose to retain his script,[44] and he was still expected to be involved in the project moving forward, while Lord and Miller were also still involved as producers. A search for a replacement director began immediately.[45]

Rick Famuyiwa was hired to take over as director in June 2016, with Warner Bros. feeling that Famuyiwa's vision for the film would both resonate with younger audiences and also be compatible with Grahame-Smith's existing script.[46] Filming was expected to begin later in 2016 and was not believed to be delayed by the director change. Famuyiwa's top choice to portray the film's female lead, Iris West, was Kiersey Clemons who he had worked with on Dope (2015).[47] Rita Ora and Lucy Boynton were also in the running for the role,[48] but Clemons was cast as the character at the end of July.[49] At that time, Warner Bros. gave the film's release date to Tomb Raider (2018), leaving The Flash without a release date.[50] In August, Ray Fisher was set to appear in the film, reprising his role as Victor Stone / Cyborg from Batman v Superman and Justice League.[51] Famuyiwa completed a revision of the script a month later,[52] when Gal Gadot was set to reprise her role as Diana Prince / Wonder Woman from Batman v Superman, Wonder Woman (2017), and Justice League,[53] and Billy Crudup was in negotiations to portray Barry's father Henry Allen.[54] Clemons and Crudup both filmed cameo appearances for Justice League after being cast in The Flash.[2][55] Pre-production began by October ahead of a filming start in March 2017, scheduled before another commitment that Miller had in July. At the end of October, Famuyiwa left the project after not being able to "come together creatively" with the studio, who disagreed with the more mature direction that Famuyiwa wanted to take the film.[56]

The film was put on hold while the studio searched for a new director and Miller prepared to film Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (2018). During that time, Warner Bros. decided to take the film in a new direction and in January 2017, Joby Harold was hired to do a page-one rewrite of the script.[57] He handed in a draft by May, when the studio's top choices to direct were Robert Zemeckis and Matthew Vaughn. Both had expressed interest in the project, but had potential scheduling issues that could prevent them from taking it on.[58] Sam Raimi, Marc Webb, and Jordan Peele had already turned down offers to direct the film,[59][60] as did Ben Affleck who portrayed Bruce Wayne / Batman in previous DCEU films.[61] At the July 2017 San Diego Comic-Con, the film was announced with the new title Flashpoint, based on the comic book of the same title in which Allen travels back in time to save his mother's life and accidentally creates an alternate timeline.[62] Dan Mazeau contributed to the script during this time.[63] Johns confirmed in November that the Flashpoint concept would allow the film to tell a unique story about Batman, with the comic book storyline exploring a timeline where Thomas Wayne is Batman;[64] Jeffrey Dean Morgan expressed interest in reprising his role as Thomas Wayne from Batman v Superman.[65]

In January 2018, the filmmaking duo John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein entered negotiations to write and direct the film after the studio chose not to wait for Zemeckis's schedule to be free.[66] Daley and Goldstein were confirmed as directors in March,[67] and the film's title reverted to The Flash the next month.[63] Filming was expected to begin in Atlanta in February 2019,[68][69] but Miller's commitments to Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore (2022) delayed filming again.[70] The Flash was aiming for a 2021 release at that point.[70] In mid-March 2019, Miller was revealed to be writing a new version of the film's script with comic book writer Grant Morrison. Miller disagreed with the light-hearted approach to the film that Daley and Goldstein were taking, though that was Warner Bros.' preferred direction for it. The new script could be submitted to the studio by the end of the month, and if the studio did not like Miller and Morrison's take there was potential for the actor to leave the film; Miller's holding deal to star in the film was expected to end in May.[71][72] Morrison later said that Miller had not been happy with the prior scripts and approached Morrison with their ideas, and the two were given two weeks by Warner Bros. to write the script in Scotland. Morrison described their script as "a Flash story", but said that the studio wanted to explore the multiverse and other DC characters with the film instead.[73] The studio rejected Miller and Morrison's script in May, but asked Miller to remain as star of the film. Daley and Goldstein left the project in July, and Warner Bros. chose Christina Hodson to write a new screenplay for the film after writing their DC film Birds of Prey (2020). Andy Muschietti entered negotiations to direct the film, with his sister Barbara set to produce alongside Michael Disco. A January 2020 pre-production start was expected.[74] The involvement of Andy Muschietti and Hodson was confirmed in November 2019, when filming was expected to begin in 2021 after Miller finished filming The Secrets of Dumbledore.[75] A month later, Warner Bros. scheduled The Flash for release on July 1, 2022.[76]

Pre-production

Andy Muschietti, the director of The Flash
Andy Muschietti, the director of The Flash

Andy Muschietti said in January 2020 that the film would still adapt elements of the Flashpoint comic book storyline, but the film would be telling a different version of that story.[77] In April, the film's release was moved forward to June 3, 2022, when Warner Bros. shifted their schedule due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[78] That June, Michael Keaton entered early negotiations to reprise his role as Bruce Wayne / Batman from Tim Burton's Batman (1989) and Batman Returns (1992).[9] Fisher discussed his role as Cyborg in the film with Muschietti that month, before Warner Bros. set a two-week shoot for Fisher to film what was referred to as a cameo appearance alongside other Justice League actors. Fisher said the studio only offered to pay him a fraction of his traditional salary for reprising the role.[79][80][81] In August, Keaton was confirmed to be appearing in the film, and Affleck agreed to reprise his version of Batman. Muschietti explained that the film would be introducing the idea of the multiverse to general audiences by including multiple versions of characters and acknowledging past film franchises based on DC Comics as alternate universes. It was important for Muschietti to include Affleck in the film since his version of Batman is the "baseline" for the DCEU, and he felt the introduction of Keaton's Batman would not work as well without first seeing the Flash's relationship with Affleck's Batman. Affleck chose to return, after saying he had retired from the character, because he would have a smaller role in the film.[7]

During the virtual DC FanDome event "Explore the Multiverse" in September 2020, Barbara Muschietti said the film would feature many characters from the DC Universe and the Flash would serve as the bridge between them and their different timelines. She added that the film would be used to restart the continuity of the DCEU without disregarding the events of the prior films.[82] Crudup, who left the film during the changes in directors, entered negotiations to rejoin the project a month later. Clemons' involvement was uncertain at that point.[2] The film's release was pushed back to November 4, 2022, due to further pandemic-related delays,[83] and filming was set to begin in March 2021 in London.[2][81] Warner Bros. had written Cyborg out of the film by January 2021 after Fisher refused to work on any project that DC Films president Walter Hamada was involved in. Fisher said this was due to Hamada's handling of an investigation into the on-set behavior of Justice League's replacement director Joss Whedon.[79][84] The role of Cyborg was not expected to be recast.[84] Andy and Barbara Muschietti arrived in the United Kingdom to prepare for production,[85] with filming set to begin in April at Warner Bros. Studios, Leavesden, after Miller finished on The Secrets of Dumbledore.[85][86] In February, construction for sets at Leavesden Studios had begun,[86][87] Crudup was confirmed to be returning,[13] and Sasha Calle was cast as Supergirl.[12][13] Calle was chosen from a group of more than 425 actresses that also included Bruna Marquezine.[12][88] All auditions for the role, as well as chemistry tests with Miller, took place over Zoom.[12]

In March 2021, Clemons signed a new deal to star as Iris West in the film after her role in Justice League was cut (though the cameo was restored in the 2021 director's cut Zack Snyder's Justice League).[10] Maribel Verdú was cast to portray Barry Allen's mother Nora Allen, but Crudup was forced to drop out of the film due to scheduling conflicts with his series The Morning Show. The role of Henry Allen was expected to be recast.[15] At the end of March, Keaton said he had received an older version of the script but had not yet read it, and would have to read the latest draft before deciding if he could commit to the film. He also cited the COVID-19 pandemic in the United Kingdom as a concern for his involvement, as well as balancing his other commitments.[89] Shortly after, Ron Livingston was cast to replace Crudup as Henry Allen, with Ian Loh cast as a young Barry Allen, and Saoirse-Monica Jackson and Rudy Mancuso joining in undisclosed roles.[5] Before filming began, Keaton was confirmed to be starring in the film,[8] with Andy Muschietti believing Keaton's decision to join The Flash was due to the script that he had been sent. Muschietti said Keaton felt honored to play Batman again.[90] The Muschiettis formed a production company, Double Dream, to co-produce the film, and Marianne Jenkins was revealed as an executive producer.[91] Fisher said it would be a "bummer" if the situation surrounding his involvement in the film was not resolved,[92] and said he would return to the role of Cyborg for the film if Warner Bros. were to make amends with him.[93]

Filming

Principal photography began on April 19, 2021,[94] at Warner Bros. Studios, Leavesden, in England,[86][87] with Henry Braham serving as cinematographer.[95] In early May, filming took place at Burghley House in Stamford, Lincolnshire, which doubled for Wayne Manor.[96] In mid-June, Miller, Clemons, Keaton, and Calle filmed scenes at St Paul's Cathedral in London, with the surrounding locations designed to portray Central City.[97] Filming was also set to occur later that month in Edinburgh and Glasgow—doubling for Gotham City—for scenes with Affleck and Keaton.[98][99] In late July, filming continued in Glasgow at Ingram Street, George Square, John Street, and Cochrane Street, and involved several vehicles, while filming with the Batmobile occurred in George Square.[100] On July 29, filming was halted after a camera operator on a motorcycle shooting behind the Batcycle on Renfield Street collided with it near West George Street. The operator was injured, but not "seriously hurt".[101][102] In early September, Luke Brandon Field said he had joined the cast.[18] Filming wrapped on October 18, 2021.[103]

Post-production

Paul Machliss serves as the film's editor,[104] while John "DJ" Desjardin serves as the visual effects supervisor after previously doing so for several DCEU films.[105] In December 2021, Michael Shannon and Antje Traue were revealed to be reprising their roles from Man of Steel (2013) as General Zod and Faora-Ul, respectively. Former co-directors of the film John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein were also confirmed to be receiving story credit for the film alongside Hodson.[11] Temuera Morrison, who portrays Aquaman's father Thomas Curry in the Aquaman films,[16] was reported to be in the film in February 2022.[17]

In March 2022, Warner Bros. adjusted its release schedule due to the impacts of COVID-19 on the workload of visual effects vendors. The Flash was moved to June 23, 2023, and Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom was also moved from 2022 to 2023, to allow time for their visual effects work to be completed; The Flash had around 2,500 visual effects shots that needed to be completed.[106] The following month, the final writing credits were revealed: Hodson received screenplay credit; Daley, Goldstein, and Harold received story credit; and off-screen credit for additional writing material went to Rebecca Drysdale, Famiyuwa, Grahame-Smith, Johns, Lord, Chris Miller, Ezra Miller, Morrison, and Adam Sztykiel.[107] In May, Deadline Hollywood reported that an unspecified "high-profile" comic book film releasing in 2023, which had its script recently submitted to the Writers Guild of America (WGA), had a total of 45 writers who were involved in the script at various stages of its development,[108] with some commentators believing this film was The Flash, due to the number of publicly known writers who previously were attached.[109][110]

Music

Benjamin Wallfisch was set to compose the film's score by April 2021, reuniting with Andy Muschietti after working on his films It (2017) and It Chapter Two (2019). Wallfisch also previously wrote the score for DC's Shazam! (2019).[111]

Marketing

Miller debuted the first footage from the film at the virtual DC FanDome event in October 2021.[6] They said there was not enough footage available to make a full trailer or teaser, but William Hughes at The A.V. Club felt the footage could comfortably be categorized as a teaser. He said being able to see it was proof of the film actually being made after its long and troubled production history.[112] Polygon's Matt Patches and io9's James Whitbrook both highlighted the footage as the beginning of the DC multiverse on film, with its hints at Keaton's version of Batman and the reveal that Miller would portray multiple versions of Barry Allen.[113][114] In February 2022, more footage from the film was released as part of a teaser for Warner Bros.' 2022 slate of DC films, which also included The Batman, Black Adam, and Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom (before The Flash and Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom were delayed to 2023).[17][106] A new trailer was shown at Warner Bros.' CinemaCon panel in April 2022,[19] and was noted by attendees for Keaton's Batman reusing the line "You wanna get nuts? Let's get nuts" from Batman.[115][116][117]

DC Comics is set to publish a three-issue prequel comic book limited series titled The Flash: The Fastest Man Alive, written by Kenny Porter with art by Ricardo López Ortiz, which is set after the events of Justice League, and depicts Batman training Flash to defeat the supervillain Girder. A trade paperback collection of the limited series will also be released.[118]

Release

The Flash is scheduled to be released by Warner Bros. Pictures in the United States on June 23, 2023.[106] The film was initially scheduled for release on March 23, 2018, when Warner Bros. first announced their slate of DCEU films,[37] before it was moved to March 16.[43] In July 2016, this release date was given to Tomb Raider,[50] and The Flash was not given another release date until the hiring of Andy Muschietti in July 2019, after which the film was slated for release on July 1, 2022.[76] It was then moved up to June 3, 2022,[78] before being delayed to November 4, 2022, after Warner Bros. shifted its release schedule due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[83] It moved to the June 2023 date when Warner Bros. again adjusted its release schedule, this time due to the impacts of COVID-19 on the workload of visual effects vendors.[106] The film will be available to stream on HBO Max 45 days after its release.[119]

Future

In September 2020, producer Barbara Muschietti stated that The Flash will "restart" everything within the DCEU, while not "forget[ting] anything", and confirmed the film will directly influence the future of the franchise.[120] Following Michael Keaton's introduction in The Flash, he will reprise his role as Bruce Wayne / Batman in Batgirl.[121]

Following Miller's legal issues,[122] Rolling Stone reported that Warner Bros. Pictures executives held an "emergency meeting" concerning the actor's future in the DCEU, and that Miller had "frequent meltdowns" on set.[123] However, an insider source denied claims of the meeting and called them an "exaggeration".[124] Additionally, Deadline Hollywood reported that the studio requested professional help for Miller and that it would be unlikely that they will reprise their role as Barry Allen / The Flash in future DCEU installments following the release of the film.[1]

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