The Flash movie that has been in development for some time over at Warner Bros. Pictures + DC Comics has had notably a rocky start. Ezra Miller is on board to star as Barry Allen, aka the Flash, in the feature that will be directed by It filmmaker Andy Muschietti. The movie has however been plagued with delays, losing directors, scrapped scripts and no clear sense of narrative direction, the last we truly heard revolved around the narrative being modeled after the Flashpoint comic book events.
The Flashpoint series, as you may know had the Flash effectively use the speed force to travel through space and time to undo his traumatic past, only to send the world spiralling into an alternate future adjacent to figurative hell.
Now the latest news has filtered through the covid-19-saturated news feeds that actor Michael Keaton is in talks to reprise his iconic 1989 role of the caped crusader Batman. And as the negotiations go, the deal would mean that Keaton would be up for more than just one DC film. There is talk for his appearance in the fabled Batgirl movie. His role would be that of a ‘guide’, someone who mentors or get things moving. Like Nick Fury in the Marvel-verse.
Now while fans may take this news with much fanfare or maybe even with a grain of salt, we suggest you have the defibrillator and 20 cc’s of whatever it is doctors need to revive you because this is the worse type of poison.
Poison I say? Okay, so I am sorry for the melodrama, but when you really think about it, nostalgia, as employed by comic book films, brings out the worse in us. Fans and creators alike. It is a vastly lazy form of manipulation. It stokes and pulls at old desires, distracts from poor character and plot development and makes one equate fond past memories with the presence of story. Marvel’s Endgame is a gross example of how the use of nostalgia was used to smoke-and-mirror us into a lulled state of acceptance. And I use that example and not Star Wars last trilogy effort because the narrative of Endgame itself has to literally transport us to the past to make us nostalgic. And we already have seen how respect for the ‘science’ of time travel dwindles when it is not wielded by director Christopher Nolan.
DC Comics needs a win. A clear, decisive win. And banking on a Batman that already made his mark on the DC universe is going to come off as a cheap ploy to win fans through nostalgia, not narrative. That is even if Keaton’s introduction to the current DCEU is well-intentioned. Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker movie has been the closest WB and DC Comics have been in a long time. Instead, it seems the execs are doubling down fanning the embers of dead, past fires. From the Snyder Cut of the Justice League being pumped full of money to give us a wide shot image of Darkseid. Thanks? HBO Max seems happy. However, I cannot help but think that that level of funds could easily create a new comic book movie in and of itself. Truly disgusting in my opinion.
And even David Ayer is hinting at possibly wanting in on the action. “Hey, Suicide Squad was not meant to be a comedy, the execs watch Deadpool and warped my movie”. The next line might as well have been, “pay me a lot money now to rehash a movie everybody has already seen so I can ‘salt bae’ in some unused footage from Camera B”.
And this is the dangerous precedent the #SnyderCut has presented to Hollywood movies. Even worse than what took place with fans brings Paramount to its knees over Sonic The Hedgehog design issues (I still believe that was rage marketing by the way). This is a repackaging of a director’s cut as if it were an entirely new movie. It is similar I would think to buying a bad batch of ecstasy pill pressed into a diamond, you complain to the dealer and then you gives you the same batch of ecstasy pills pressed into the shape of a slanted square. At least with remastered games you have vastly-improved graphics and narratives that balance out the nostalgia of youth.
I’ve made my personal opinions felt before on this particular subject, but it may be worth voicing once more for reiteration. The current DCEU should have been ended with Justice League. No soft reboots. A hard severance. A fresh start the only aftermath, one with insight and one that saw a DC Universe respect the trilogy format and not the imploding run-on sentence Marvel is sure to become. Or already has, depending on your viewpoint.
The act of bringing old successes to new failings can only be viewed as the last flailing attempt at injecting life into the DCEU. The swaying of public opinion through transference via direct association with something tried and true is an age-old propaganda technique. Nazis had a whole wing dedicated to the practise. But alas, it is, by nature and appearance, a parasitic relationship. And when the DCEU has had this many loses in the short span of a few years, the act of hooking into nostalgia will be seen more as a distraction tactic than a thoughtful decision. Just like Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker resurrecting Palpatine. Just like revisiting every Marvel movie in Avengers: Endgame.
At this point WB has had more misses than hits. And instead of going back to the drawing board and really strategising a plan that spans years, it feels like everyone is looking through the crates and seeing what can be rehashed, recut, reassemble and re-released under the guise of something new and innovative. Like Mechanically-Recovered Meat. And we all know what is in that.