For a speedster, The Flash seems to be the only superhero stuck in development hell.
Since 2014, when Warner Bros.
prematurely announced its original DC Extended Universe (DCEU) slate, fans have known a film starring DC Comics’ fastest man alive was in development. However, The Flash quickly sped past multiple targeted release dates, and more than a couple up-and-coming directors.
From 2016 to 2019, Phil Lord & Chris Miller, Seth Grahame-Smith, Greg Berlanti, Rick Famuyiwa, Robert Zemeckis, and John Francis Daley & Jonathan Goldstein were all at one point either signed on or in serious considerations to direct The Flash. All these directors and creative forces have similar, yet unique, comedic stylings. However, creative differences kept them from staying on with the project.
Some of those creative differences might have stemmed from the type of Flash movie star Ezra Miller wanted to make. Miller is part of the Zack Snyder era of the DCEU, a much darker (literally) period in the franchise that had a specific vision in mind. After Snyder left the franchise mid-way through Justice League, the DCEU shifted to align with the critical and box-office success of Wonder Woman. That film manged to blend serious storytelling elements with light-hearted banter.
However, Miller wasn’t interested in a comedic, light-hearted film. He wanted a darker tale, and even wrote his own version of the script. There were once rumblings of The Flash solo movie being based on the Flashpoint storyline, a tale that depicts an alternate reality where Bruce Wayne’s father is Batman, his mother is the Joker, Aquaman and Wonder Woman are ex-lovers and at war with each other’s races, and The Flash never existed, all because Barry Allen went back in time and saved his mother from dying at the hands of the Reverse Flash.
It’s a compelling narrative and one that was ripe to be adapted given the state of the DCEU post-Justice League. With Snyder’s proposed five-film storyline shelved following his departure, Flashpoint could have rewritten the timeline and propelled the DCEU to higher heights. Wonder Woman and Aquaman are now two of the DCEU’s biggest stars and Justice League showed us the beginnings of a great bromance between Flash and Cyborg.
Despite the Flashpoint storyline being shelved for the foreseeable future, the hiring of Andy Muschietti as director for The Flash is a sign that there is still room for the darker, more mature side of the DCEU.
Andy Muschietti will write a new draft of the script with Christina Hodson while Barbara Muschietti will act as a producer on the film. Hodson wrote the screenplays for Bumblebee and the upcoming DCEU spin-off Birds of Prey. Meanwhile, the Muschiettis are coming off the one-two punch that has been It and It: Chapter Two for Warner Bros.
This last part is extremely important as Muschietti is just the latest horror filmmaker to cross over to directing a DC movie after directing a film for Warner’s sister division New Line Cinema. James Wan directed Aquaman (which ended up grossing over $1 billion), while David Sandberg directed Shazam! (which made close to $400 million). Furthermore, both of these films earned a positive critical reception and brought the DCEU a couple of much-needed hits.
With Muschietti’s hiring, Warner Bros. continues its streak of keeping talent in-house. However, what’s more promising is the fact that Wan and Sandberg were able to bring a good dose of comedy and action to their superhero offerings, while adding a twinge of horror. Muschietti looks to be doing the same:
“An element of horror? I don’t think so. What captivated me about The Flash is the human drama in it. The human feelings and emotions that play in the drama [of it]. It’s going to be fun, too. I can’t promise that there will be any horror [elements in it], really, but it’s a beautiful human story.”
Aquaman and Shazam! both dealt with very personal stories about finding your place in the world, a trend The Flash could easily follow. There’s also a chance for some darker aspects to shine though, which should delight Miller. As we’ve seen with It, Muschietti has no problem telling emotionally complex stories that deal with topics like human fear.
Inner fear is something I would love to see The Flash deal with. What if the world’s fastest man is still too slow to stop a crime from happening? What if he’s afraid he’ll run so fast he’ll self-combust? What if he time travels and then is afraid to screw up the timeline? We already caught a glimpse of Barry’s relationship with his father in Justice League, and as we’ve seen on The CW’s Flash series, this father-son relationship presents numerous emotional and dramatic opportunities for both director and actors.
With Andy Muschietti following in the footsteps of James Wan and David Sanberg, and continuing his relationship with Warner Bros., The Flash is off to a running start. Add in that Black Adam director Jaume Collet-Serra also got his start with horror movies such as House of Wax and Orphan, and it’s safe to say that DC Films might have figured out its winning recipe.
I’ll be looking forward to seeing Muschietti’s vision for Ezra Miller’s Flash come to life on the big screen. What is your opinion on Andy Muschietti directing The Flash?