The Flash has been mired in controversy for untold months now, thanks to star Ezra Miller’s many scandals—and we’re still six weeks away from its release. A contingent of superhero fans even pushed for the film to be shelved or reshot without Miller, because of the severity of the allegations against them. But the myriad claims of Miller’s bad behavior haven’t stopped new DC Studios boss James Gunn and Warner Bros. Discovery exec David Zaslav from calling it one of the “greatest superhero movies” in recent memory. And the movie’s newest trailer, released Tuesday, may lend some credence to that lofty claim.
The reason? Batman. Or should I say Batmen (or Batmans)? Michael Keaton is undeniably the real star of The Flash’s newest trailer, as he should be. The film, based upon the comic book storyline “Flashpoint,” brings back Keaton’s Batman to the screen for the first time since 1992’s Batman Returns.
“I lost my parents,” Bruce Wayne tells Barry Allen (Miller) in narration, at the trailer’s opening. “That pain made me who I am. I spent a lifetime trying to right the wrongs of the past, as if fighting crime would bring my parents back.” Then, cut to an aged Wayne, looking at the young superhero. “You actually did it.”
Thus, the story is established: Barry, a.k.a. The Flash, uses his ability to run at the speed of light to reset his own history, preventing his parents from dying. But in doing so, as comic book readers know well, he splinters the timelines and creates numerous versions of himself. The universe can’t sustain this kind of massive alteration, however, and the Flash returns to a broken present. With Batman’s help—as well as that of newcomer Supergirl (Sasha Calle)—the red-suited super might be able to repair these life-threatening cracks in the space-time continuum. Hopefully.
Perhaps most exciting is seeing how Batman factors into all of this, especially since he’s greeted with an alternate version of himself too: Ben Affleck’s Batman, who we glimpse in the trailer. The Flash may be named after the super-fast superhero, but the film is really a Batman meet-up for the ages.
Moviegoers love nothing more than a crossover special, after all, and especially a superhero-themed one; Spider-Man: No Way Home didn’t become one of the biggest films ever just because it ruled. And thinking about The Flash as a fan-favorite character team-up makes our excitement feel a lot more acceptable, given that Miller’s legal issues and alleged criminal incidents are a turn-off. The trailer seems to acknowledge that, throwing in as many clips of Batman in action as possible.
Considering the DC Extended Universe is about to undergo a full reset under James Gunn and co-exec Peter Safran’s stewardship, The Flash is also something of a denouement. We last saw Miller’s Barry in Zack Snyder’s Justice League, and his long-promised standalone movie took several years to get off the ground. It’s arriving just in time for Gunn and Safran to kick off their new DC films, which won’t be connected to the movies made before their tenure, so it seems likely that The Flash could be the last time we see Affleck, Keaton, or Miller in these roles.
Even if you’re happy to bid farewell to Miller, it’ll be kind of sad to say goodbye to these Batmans. (Doubly so if this is the first time Affleck’s gotten to play Batman in a well-made movie.) Hopefully this final film makes good on this thrilling teaser.
The Flash hits theaters June 16.