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Here’s how the Ezra Miller problem in ‘The Flash’ should be handled for the future of the DCU

The movie has been overshadowed by controversy, but there's still a way to salvage the franchise.

the flash
Image via Warner Bros.

It’s no secret that there are mounting concerns about The Flash movie and the future of the franchise because of Ezra Miller’s erratic behavior. Miller is set to reprise their role as Barry Allen in the movie, but their presence also presents a risk to its potential success. DC Studios co-heads James Gunn and Peter Safran are hoping to reset this superhero universe with the new DCU and they will need to make smart choices in order for it to be successful

Miller made their first appearance as the Flash in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and reprised the role in the Justice League movie. Following the release, the DCEU continued to have many complications relating to its movie slate. The Flash movie always seemed to be on track to release in spite of the director shake-ups, but the long list of criminal behavior including charges for disorderly conduct and harassment, a second-degree assault charge, a restraining order filed against them, and more painted a different picture. It’s a troubling situation and casts the future of their role as the speedster in doubt. As difficult as it might seem, there is a decision that the DCU should make to give the Flashwall a fighting chance.

The simple answer is that Miller should no longer play Barry Allen. While we hope that they get the help they need for a healthy life, it’s a glaring double standard if Miller is able to sail past these controversies when others haven’t been offered the same grace by Warner Bros. Cyborg actor Ray Fisher was let go from The Flash after stating he wouldn’t appear in the film if the head of DC Films at Warner Bros. at the time Walter Hamada was still in charge. Fisher made claims of misconduct on the set of Justice League and cited Hamada’s complicity in sparing those responsible for it, including director Joss Whedon. Fisher was ironically let go for speaking up against injustice.

At the same time, Miller shouldn’t be recast. Instead, the DCU needs to introduce Wally West as the Flash of Keystone City, and many fans are on board with the idea of a new Flash. It makes narrative sense following The Flash‘s universe-resetting Flashpoint story. In it, Barry will travel back in time to change the past, gets trapped in an alternate reality, and teams up with Batman and Supergirl to stop General Zod. After that, there will be a new DCU where new characters will rise and some old ones will return in the new timeline. Barry could make the ultimate sacrifice in the movie, like in the seminal limited series Crisis on Infinite Earths by Marv Wolfman and George Perez, then Wally West takes over as Flash.

Image via DC Comics

Many fans grew up with Wally West as the Flash on the animated series Justice League and Justice League: Unlimited, and after 1985’s COIE, he was DC’s main flash until Barry returned in Final Crisis by Grant Morrison and J.G. Jones. We’ve already seen so much of Barry’s story in The CW’s The Flash starring the consistent Grant Gustin, so continuing it could seem like retreading over old ground, whereas Wally represents something newer in the live-action arena. He’s a character with his own personality, his own city, and is teeming with storylines waiting to be explored. For people who have already made up their minds about Miller’s Flash, this gives them the opportunity to try out a new one.

Gunn clarified that the projects in DCU Chapter One: Gods and Monsters will span across time, so stories can take place in the past, present, and future. Since that’s the case, it would be easy to make it so that Barry had already had his superhero career and now it’s Wally’s chance to take up the mantle. It wouldn’t erase Barry, it would be an effective device for working around the Miller drama while still giving people the Flash. In the comics, Wally was Barry’s sidekick Kid Flash and during that time he learned how to be a capable speedster. All of this, and even his time on the Teen Titans, can be included to give the character that sense of prominence and legacy.

The Flash franchise should continue, but it doesn’t have to continue with Miller. Canonically, Barry Allen is one of the superheroes who leaves for an extended period of time and it gives Wally the space to flourish. The same thing should happen in the movies so that the DCU will have a clean start and a fighting chance. It’s time for Wally West to begin his race.

About the author

Ethan Alexander