Following The Flash‘s controversial reception, James Gunn and Peter Safran’s DC Universe has the chance to do the Scarlet Speedster’s rogue gallery justice. The DCEU introduced Ezra Miller’s Barry Allen as early as in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, after which he appeared in a Suicide Squad cameo before he received a supporting role in Justice League. However, Barry Allen only starred in his own movie six years after his first cameo, and even then, he still had to share a large part of The Flash‘s runtime with several other DC characters.
The Flash adapted DC Comics’ famous Flashpoint storyline, where Barry Allen confronts his archnemesis, Eobard Thawne a.k.a. Reverse-Flash, who killed Barry’s mother Nora and motivated him to travel back in time to prevent it. However, the DCEU’s 2023 The Flash movie doesn’t feature Reverse-Flash in any capacity, and instead introduces an original take on the villain Black Flash, who’s revealed to be a time-traveling younger Barry instead of DC Comics’ personification of Death in the Speed Force. Beyond Black Flash’s rather small role in the film, General Zod and Faora Ul also make an appearance as minor antagonists. Otherwise, The Flash lacks a standout main villain.
The Flash‘s lack of a main villain is especially jarring considering the hero’s numerous iconic villains in the source material. The Flash counts with a rogues’ gallery almost as famous as Batman’s, with antagonists such as Gorilla Grodd, Captain Cold, Zoom, the Trickster, Killer Frost, and many more joining Reverse-Flash in several decades’ worth of rich comic book history. These villains possess a diverse range of abilities and personalities. Some are mere annoyances for Barry Allen and other Flashes, while others are as fast or even faster than the Central City speedsters.
With even the most obscure comic book characters making successful jumps to the big and the small screen, it’s clear that the Flash’s movie appearances fall short of their potential. Barry Allen’s only encounter with a Flash villain, Captain Boomerang, was followed up by Boomerang’s death in The Suicide Squad. Later on, the Flash’s solo film had an opportunity to pit Barry Allen against his own enemies and explore his corner of the DCEU without other heroes overshadowing him. But unfortunately, The Flash was also the DCEU’s last chance to deliver a franchise-wide crossover before the franchise came to an end, and Barry Allen’s personal journey suffered as a result.
Why The New DC Universe Can Deliver Better The Flash Villains
One of the many advantages of the new DC Universe is its freedom to fix the DCEU’s mistakes without worrying about retcons or timeline issues. The DCU’s new Flash can be introduced with an already established history of epic battles and victories over his iconic villains. He could be showing off against weak enemies like Turtle and Rag Doll, but also keeping Captain Cold and Mirror Master in line and trying to prevent Reverse-Flash and Godspeed from causing massive chaos. The villains’ varying power levels and relationships with the Flash is what makes the Scarlet Speedster’s villain dynamics interesting.
Superman: Legacy is establishing the DCU as a lived-in franchise already filled with metahumans. Although the new DC Universe might not begin with heroes as experienced as Ben Affleck’s DCEU Batman or with stories as climactic as The Flash‘s adaptation of DC’s Flashpoint, it will skip origin stories and fast-track the universe’s foundations in order to hit the ground running. This will certainly help overlooked characters like the Flash, who will likely be developed in movies or shows that have enough time and space for rich lore, complex backstories, and interesting antagonists.
Key Release Dates
Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom
Joker: Folie a Deux
The Batman – Part II
The DCU can do the Flash’s villains justice. Read More