Just five years ago it seemed impossible to imagine that Aquaman would star in his own movie before The Flash but as this decade draws to a close, fans are still waiting for The Fastest Man Alive to hurry up and get his act together on the big screen.
It’s not like we haven’t seen The Flash at all. Not only has Ezra Miller flexed his speedy muscles three times in the role now, appearing in Justice League, Suicide Squad and Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, but the Scarlet Speedster has also enjoyed huge success on The CW in his very own show (played by Grant Gustin).
Still, it’s somewhat bizarre that development on The Flash’s movie has moved so slowly.
Whether it’s because Gustin already made the role his own on TV or whether it’s simply because Warner Bros previously lacked direction when it comes to their superheroes, the timeline for this movie’s development becomes more complicated with each passing year.
While this might be rather fitting given how much The Flash loves to mess up the timestream on TV, it’s also quite disheartening for fans eager to see Barry back in the running. Not all hope is lost, though.
Join us as we race back in time to take a closer look at what’s taking The Fastest Man Alive so long to join his fellow superheroes in a cinema near you.
The Flash: Year One
Warner Bros first started to plan a Flash movie as far back as the 1980s when they hired comic book writer Jeph Loeb to write a screenplay.
While that never came to be, the success of Batman Begins revitalised interest in the project, which led the studio to hire Batman scriptwriter David Goyer to write, produce and direct. In 2007, creative differences forced him to drop out of the project, although Goyer would go on to write a small scene introducing The Flash years later in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
Not long after this happened, Warner Bros hired Michelle and Kieran Mulroney to script the now infamous Justice League: Mortal film that never came to be.
Mad Max filmmaker George Miller was on board to direct and Adam Brody of The OC was cast as Barry Allen. Unfortunately, the 2007–08 Writers Guild of America strike delayed the project and following the success of The Dark Knight, Warner Bros decided to move in another direction.
Stranger Things director Shawn Levy briefly replaced Goyer on the solo Flash film, aiming to write a script lighter in tone but he soon left the project too. A succession of various writers followed, including Greg Berlanti, the man who would eventually mastermind the entire Arrowverse slate of shows, including his own version of The Flash on TV.
The Ezra Era
Things went quiet in the Speed Force for a while until Warner Bros revealed in late 2014 that Ezra Miller would play Barry Allen in an upcoming film scheduled for 2018. Man of Steel‘s success a year earlier prompted this announcement, which also came during hype for The Flash TV show.
Miller had already proved himself to be a major talent following the likes of We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011), but that didn’t stop Grant Gustin fans from complaining that TV’s Barry was robbed. Even co-stars like Stephen Amell weighed in, arguing that the small-screen Flash deserved to race in the big leagues too.
Little else was revealed until April 2015 when rumours started to hint that The LEGO Movie directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller were writing a new script treatment.
Fans initially assumed that they would be asked to direct too, but then just six months later, Warner Bros announced that Seth Grahame-Smith, the author of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, would make his directorial debut on The Flash instead.
Things seemed to be moving forward finally a year later when Miller joined Jason Momoa and Ray Fisher in cameo roles for Dawn of Justice, planting the seeds for an eventual Justice League movie. Unfortunately, just one month later, Grahame-Smith departed the solo Flash project and was quickly replaced by Dope director Rick Famuyiwa.
Famuyiwa got the ball rolling by hiring Dope actress Kiersey Clemons as Iris West, Barry’s love interest, and Watchmen star Billy Crudup soon followed in the role of Henry Allen, Barry’s father.
While we’re yet to see Clemons in the DC Universe, Crudup briefly brought some daddy issues to Justice League later in 2017. Around this time, Miller pulled on the spandex a second time for his extremely brief role in Suicide Squad, which was included as part of extensive reshoots.
In October 2016, four months after Famuwiya was first hired, he suddenly quit the project, citing those all too familiar “creative differences” as the reason why. Losing two directors in less than six months was a bigger blow than anything Gorilla Grodd’s fists could ever come up with, setting the first of many delays in motion.
Just a few months later in January 2017, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword writer Joby Harold was brought on board and not long after, it started to look like Back to the Future filmmaker Robert Zemeckis had become the frontrunner to direct.
Surprise surprise, this fell through too, and at one point, even Lord and Miller were in talks to return.
Dawn of Justice League
For the rest of 2017, no directors were officially hired to replace Famuwiya, but progress was made story-wise at least.
After much speculation, Warner Bros revealed that they planned to adapt the ‘Flashpoint’ story arc from the comics. Already familiar to fans of the TV show, the Flashpoint comics start with Barry waking up in a new timeline where his mother is still alive and because of that, he’s no longer The Flash in this world.
Whether they were on board with that choice or not, it was still exciting for fans to see Ezra Miller subsequently play the role beyond just a cameo thanks to his performance in Justice League (2017).
Unfortunately, the film flopped both critically and commercially, simultaneously delaying a potential sequel while also throwing all of the studio’s future plans into question.
Game Night directors John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein became the third round of directors enlisted to helm The Flash in January 2018, presumably taking the project in a lighter mood to counter Justice League‘s darkness.
The original release date of March 2018 came and went soon after without any more news and towards the end of the year, more production delays were officially announced, making a 2021 release date seem more likely.
Earlier this year, it was confirmed Ezra Miller decided to try his hand at writing a movie script for the first time, supposedly steering his version of The Flash away from a light-hearted tone towards something darker.
To help him, legendary comic book writer Grant Morrison was also hired to co-write the script alongside Miller, but this was later turned down in May.
Following that rejection, Warner Bros have now tapped Birds of Prey writer Christina Hodson to put her own spin on the story instead alongside IT director Andy Muschietti.
Four rounds in, there’s a lot of pressure on Muschietti to succeed where the previous directors failed and if The Flash doesn’t get a move on, there’s a chance that Miller may no longer be kept on either.
However, if Ezra does end up starring in his own solo Flash movie, he’ll be the first openly queer actor to lead a superhero film, which is yet another reason why Warner Bros need to draw some inspiration from Barry and speed things up a bit.
At this rate, we’re more likely to see yet another version of Batman appear on our screens before The Flash finally gets his due.