Thanks to DC FanDome, we now have a slightly better idea of what to expect from 2023’s The Flash. This long-awaited superhero movie doesn’t just include two different versions of the Caped Crusader – and a Supergirl – it’s also inspired by one of the most important Flash storylines of all time – Flashpoint.
The Flash movie's release date is November 4, 2022, so we still have some time. But read on to learn what exactly Flashpoint is, and why is it the most important DC adventure this side of Crisis on Infinite Earths? Here’s what you need to know, and why the DCEU may be a very different place when the dust settles.
What Is Flashpoint?
The Flash’s speed comes in handy for a lot more than just outrunning supervillains. When he really puts the pedal to the metal, he can even breach the fabric of time and space, travelling to parallel worlds and other points in time. That’s how the alternate timeline known as Flashpoint got its start in the comics.
Flashpoint is an alternate reality much darker than the traditional DC Universe. In this world, Superman has been a government test subject since his space pod first crashed on Earth. The kingdoms of Atlantis and Themyscira are at war, and most of Western Europe is underwater. Even Batman is a gun-toting, sword-swinging killer. The only hero who isn’t worse off in the Flashpoint timeline is Cyborg. Here, instead of being a Teen Titan, Vic Stone has taken Superman’s place as the United States’ greatest protector.
Flashpoint: The Major Heroes and Villains of the Epic DC Storyline
So what caused things to turn out this way? It turns out Barry Allen is to blame. Over the course of the story, the de-powered and amnesic Barry eventually realizes he created Flashpoint when he traveled back in time and saved his mother from being murdered by Reverse-Flash. That one act had far-reaching, devastating consequences for the world.
Flashpoint ends with Barry going back again to undo his well-intentioned mistake. He manages to rewrite history all over again, restoring the DCU to normal (more or less) just as it seems the Atlantean/Themysciran war is about to go apocalyptic.
The Batman of the Flashpoint Timeline
While Barry may be the main protagonist of Flashpoint, Batman tends to steal the show. Maybe that’s why both Ben Affleck and Michael Keaton’s Caped Crusaders are showing up in the Flash movie.
Flashpoint introduces one of the most unique and tragic versions of Batman in the DC multiverse. This character is actually Thomas Wayne, not Bruce. He took up his war on crime after watching his son be murdered by Joe Chill. By day, Thomas runs the swankiest casino in Gotham City. By night, he wages a lethal war on crime.
This Batman agrees to help Flash not to save his own world, but to restore a reality where his son is still alive. And as if that weren’t enough of a tear-jerker, we also learn his wife Martha became the Joker of the Flashpoint timeline. Martha briefly regains her grip on sanity during her final showdown with her ex-husband. But once she realizes that saving their son means dooming him to become Batman, she snaps and commits suicide.
Enter the New 52
Flashpoint is a fun alternate reality story, but there’s a reason why fans are still talking about this crossover 10 years later. The real impact of Flashpoint comes after Barry races through time and tries to fix the damage he caused. Like many time travelers before him, Barry learned you can’t quite stuff that genie back in the bottle.
Flashpoint served as the bridge to The New 52, an ambitious attempt by DC to relaunch their entire superhero line. Similar to the aftermath of 1985’s Crisis on Infinite Earths, Barry’s time-meddling became a catalyst for a revamped and streamlined DC Universe.
The goal with the New 52 was to make the DCU more accessible and modern. Comic book fans still disagree over whether it was a success. But whatever your opinion, it seems this clean slate approach is one DC is hoping to apply to its cinematic universe next.
Michael Keaton's Batman and How Flashpoint Could Transform the DCEU
The Flash movie has taken years to get off the ground, changing directors more times than Batman cycles through teenage sidekicks. But one thing has remained constant – we know the movie is heavily inspired by the Flashpoint storyline, just like the 2013 animated movie Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox and Season 3 of the Flash TV series.
The Flash again stars Ezra Miller as Barry Allen, now settling into his role as a superhero following the events of 2017’s Justice League and his brief encounter with the Arrowverse’s Flash in Crisis on Infinite Earths. It’s also expected to be the last movie to feature Ben Affleck’s Batman, while also bringing back Michael Keaton’s Batman for the first time in over 30 years. DC fans will even be introduced to Sasha Calle’s Supergirl for good measure.
While the movie is likely to be a fairly loose adaptation of Flashpoint (more like the TV show than the animated movie), we’re assuming the basic premise is still intact. Barry will attempt to undo his mother’s murder, only to reshape the entire world in the process. The new footage revealed at DC FanDome suggests Barry's time-meddling may have erased Affleck's Batman and replaced him with Keaton's. The trailer also suggests multiple versions of Barry himself will be forced to team up with Supergirl to set things right. One of those Barrys even creates a makeshift Flash costume by spray-painting an old Batsuit.
As for Keaton's Batman, it appears he'll throw his lot in with Barry out of a desire to help his new friend save his mother. Obviously, a guy like Batman can sympathize.
If The Flash is following the basic outline of Flashpoint, that means we could very well be in for a revamped version of the DCEU. Just as the comic helped spawn the New 52 and DC’s revamped superhero universe, the movie may set the stage for a streamlined, overhauled version of the DCEU. Some actors may remain, while other roles will be recast. Even Keaton is rumored to be playing an ongoing role as the Nick Fury of the reborn DCEU.
In the comics, Flashpoint didn’t just streamline the main DC Universe, it also established a new version of the DC multiverse. 52 worlds, each with their own versions of Batman, Superman and the rest. The Flash could easily do the same for DC’s movie lineup. That may explain where upcoming movies like The Batman and Michael B. Jordan’s Superman movie fit in. Those projects take place in their own universes, but they’re still linked to the DCEU through the multiverse.
Most importantly, The Flash may help set this cinematic universe down a new, more coherent path, something 2017’s Justice League failed to do. Once again, Barry Allen’s big mistake may alter the course of an entire universe.
Do you think The Flash movie will reboot the DCEU? Let us know what you think down in the comments. And stay tuned to IGN for all the big news coming out of DC FanDome.
Jesse is a mild-mannered staff writer for IGN. Allow him to lend a machete to your intellectual thicket by following @jschedeen on Twitter.