–Arts and letters for the modern age–

Cathode Ray Zone

–Arts and Letters for the Modern Age–

The Flash: Worlds Collide in Multiverse Madness

by | Jun 6, 2023

The Flash accomplishes what many of the Warner Brothers inspired Detective Comics movies previously attempted: to provide a sense of fulfillment to the comic book genre while also expanding the possibilities of the multiverse concept.

While not exactly a new concept, the multiverse has been getting a lot of play recently with films like Everything Everywhere All At Once, Spider-Man: No Way Home, and the current Spider-Man: Across the Spiderverse, the latter a cartoonish expansion of practically every iteration of the web slinger that’s appeared in graphic form.

One merely has to look at movies in the past to realize expanded realities have never exceeded the parallel worlds explored in 1939’s The Wizard of Oz.

Academically speaking, concepts like string theory and quantum mechanics have been around for decades. Time travel movies adjust well to such ideas. Perhaps not surprisingly one of the funniest moments in The Flash involves an in-joke on the casting for the Back To The Future trilogy.

If time travel was perfected we could go back to 2007, the year before the official launch of the Marvel universe with Iron Man, and the abandoned George Miller version of the Justice League, a coterie of superheroes that included Superman, Batman, Flash, Wonder Woman and others.

Miller has a proven track record as a visionary director with everything he touches producing movie gold, whether live action Mad Max mayhem or Happy Feet penguin satisfaction. Warner Brothers in another timeline usurped the Marvel Universe although that’s not the reality we exist in now.

The Flash has an ace in the hole with Argentinian helmer gone Hollywood, Andy Muschietti. His primary producer is his sister Bárbara Muschietti and together they’ve redefined the direction of the DC universe overseen then and now by talent as diverse as James Gunn and Zach Snyder.

The Flash gets serious from the beginning with an action packed introduction of Barry Allen – a.k.a. The Flash (Ezra Miller), known for the ability to move at the speed of light – that incorporates Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) and Batman (Ben Affleck). Before the movie is over, we will also team up with Jason Momoa. Let it be stated categorically that Gadot and Momoa have definite charismatic appeal but in the acting department are dwarfed by those around them.

There are actually several cameos, which we will leave unsaid, but it’s not like every major movie online publication hasn’t already spilled the beans. There’s a synergy between Hollywood and media publications that veers towards the weird more than the genuine.

Allen’s parents are The Flash’s most compelling casting with Ron Livingtston and Maribel Verdú as the well defined nuclear family. Both actors hit peaks two decades ago with films like Office Space (1999) and Y tu mamá también (2001). Other veteran performers like Michael Shannon and Michael Keaton bring their A-game.

In the end, there’s a bunch of people beating other people up, but at least they’re not doing it in the center of Metropolis. That’s the bloated main story and The Flash is sticking to it.

Yet a subtle underlying textual backbone subplot involves a specific pasta dinner that Allen shares with his parents at the departure point of the time and space shift that defines the plot. In all fairness, when we see Miller scarfing down spaghetti by the pint in a single mouthful, the food doesn’t look like any kind of culinary noodle craft recipe that would suggest being homemade.

Is there a bigger resurgence recently of any one performer than Michael Keaton? In The Flash, Keaton tears up each frame in which he appears with his patented whimsical nature. Keaton is a superhero with the skill set of Mr. Mom, combined with the aplomb of the Dark Crusader. This year he’s reprising Batman and next year he’s reinventing Beetlejuice. 

The Flash delivers movie smarts in a satisfying manner while also observing franchise linear order.