The Flash’s New Trailer Underlines the Consequences of the Flashpoint Storyline

Blair Marnell
Movies Comics
Movies Comics DC

Stop us if you’ve heard this before, but Barry Allen, the fastest man alive, is tired of living with the personal tragedy that defined his life: the death of his mother, Nora. Rather than simply accept things as they are, Barry uses his powers as The Flash to travel back in time and save his mother, while unleashing unthinkable consequences on his world in the greatly changed timeline.

That is the plot of the upcoming DC Extended Universe movie, The Flash, written by Christina Hodson (Birds of Prey) and directed by Andy Muschietti (IT), but it’s largely inspired by the 2011 comic book crossover, Flashpoint, by writer Geoff Johns and artist Andy Kubert. It has proven to be such a pivotal event in the life of Barry and the fabric of the DC Universe that the story was already adapted twice before. The animated film, Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox, was the first adaptation in 2013, while the third season of The Flash had a vastly scaled down adaptation in 2016.

Many of the core events of Flashpoint have remained the same across all three adaptations. However, there are noticeable differences in the newly released Flash trailer which debuted at CinemaCon — shortly before the movie itself played to highly positive reactions — that reveal a few points of divergence. And those differences may prove to be important as The Flash resets the board for a new DC Universe on the big screen.

A Tale of Two Barrys…
And Two Batmen

One of the most striking aspects of the new trailer is that Michael Keaton’s Batman shows a great deal of empathy towards Barry. He, more than almost anyone else, can understand why Barry changed the past in his mother’s favor. It’s a marked contrast to Keaton’s Dark Knight in Batman and Batman Returns, who was far more reserved with his emotions.

All of the previous Flashpoint adaptations have kept things simple by having the Barry from the prime timeline merge with the Barry from the newly created history. The Flash is going a different way by featuring two different Barrys, both played by Ezra Miller. One Barry came from the original timeline, while the other lived in this world.

The identity of Batman was also greatly impacted by the Flashpoint comic. In that world, Bruce Wayne died and Thomas Wayne became Batman… after brutally beating Bruce’s murderer to death with his own hands. Thomas’ Batman was not the warm friendly figure we see represented by Keaton’s Batman in the trailer. He was a literal maniac who had no problem using a gun on criminals. Additionally, in this comic book timeline, Martha Wayne became the Joker out of grief. But that was truly a plot twist that was better left buried.

Ben Affleck’s Batman also pops up in the new trailer, but Affleck has already said that his appearance in the film is brief and he is done with the role. Within the Flashpoint comic, Barry carries a message from Thomas’ Batman to Bruce Wayne in the restored timeline. Perhaps Keaton’s Batman will request a similar favor when working with the Barrys.

The Girl of Steel

If Barry’s actions had only caused his own history to change, Flashpoint wouldn’t have been such a catastrophe. In the original comic, there were still some heroes. Yet the film presents a world where most superheroes don’t exist at all. As seen in the trailer, the only heroic Kryptonian on Earth is Kara Zor-El (Sasha Calle), Superman’s cousin who adopted the codename Supergirl.

Superman was present in the comic book Flashpoint timeline, but only as an emaciated shell of the iconic hero. In that world, the U.S. government kept Kal-El of Krypton under lock and key for his entire life. He was never Clark Kent, and thus never developed the strong sense of humanity that his adoptive parents, the Kents, were able to impart.

It’s possible that the Supergirl in this movie suffered a similar fate to the Flashpoint Superman. The first trailer for the film indicated that Kara was a prisoner, much like her cousin was in the comics. But Kara seems much more well-adjusted than the Man of Steel in that story.

The Man Who Wasn’t There

The trailer for The Flash would have us believe that Michael Sheen’s General Zod is the film’s big bad. And make no mistake, he represents a serious threat. Henry Cavill’s Man of Steel won’t be making any chiropractic adjustments of Zod’s neck in this movie. Even Supergirl’s power pales in comparison to Zod’s might.

However, this is ignoring a key aspect of the Flashpoint comic, and it’s possibly just misdirection. The thing that unites the previous Flashpoint adaptations is that Barry’s life was never supposed to turn out this way. Eobard Thawne, the Reverse-Flash, went back in time to kill Barry’s mother and frame his father, Henry Allen, just to make his rival suffer. That’s why Barry felt justified in going back in time to stop Thawne.

Thus far, there have been no indications that Thawne is in The Flash. However, McFarlane Toys’ Flash figures have included a spoilery character (click on that link if you want to know who it is) who may serve that function in the film. And it’s a character who hasn’t even been glimpsed in any of the footage to date.

The Flashpoint Paradox

So far, the most comic book accurate adaptation of Flashpoint has been the animated film, Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox. It followed the plot of the comic very closely, while editing the story down to about 70 minutes. Yet it still managed to include things like the war between Aqauaman and Wonder Woman that pitted the might of Atlantis against the fury of the Amazons.

Gal Gadot and Henry Cavill reportedly filmed cameo scenes in The Flash, which may have touched upon Wonder Woman and Superman in the changed timeline. Cavill’s appearance reportedly was trimmed from the final film, but Affleck indicated in a recent interview that Gadot still appears in the movie. We may have to wait until June to see for sure.

The Flash Director Andy Muschietti speaks at CinemaCon, where the film had a debut screening

The Flashpoint Paradox also served as a hard reboot for the DC animated movies to that point, and led to the DC Animated Movie Universe, which was seven years of interconnected films that shared continuity, just as the Flashpoint comic had led into the New 52 reboot of DC’s comics years earlier. And the common thread behind these timeline reboots is that Barry Allen is never able to fully restore the previous continuity.

In short, you break it, you’ve bought it, Barry!

Small Screen Flashpoint

The Arrowverse had a “Flashpoint” of its own in the Season 3 premiere of the TV version of The Flash. But since it was a single episode of an ongoing TV series, the scale was drastically reduced to fit the show. As in the comic and the animated film before it, Barry changed the past by saving his mother from Thawne. But the world he created was almost alien to him. His future brother-in-law, Wally West, was the Flash (or Kid Flash) of this world, and all of Barry’s friends at S.T.A.R. Labs had radically different personalities.

As perhaps the ultimate humiliation, Barry was forced to release Thawne from his prison and allow him to murder Nora to reset the proper timeline. But this only led to more suffering, as the revamped world made Caitlin Snow into the metahuman Killer Frost, and left Cisco Ramon’s brother dead from a car accident, and Cisco himself bitter at Barry. And all of these changes allowed Thawne to survive even though he should have been wiped from existence long before.

The Big Reset

The Flash will mark the end of the DC Extended Universe as we know it, even though Blue Beetle and Aqauaman and the Lost Kingdom — also filmed before leadership changed for DC’s films — are still set to come out later this year. Plans kept changing for the DCEU and its evolution during the long road to getting The Flash to theaters — this movie was first announced in October 2014! — but regardless, the film’s storyline still provides the perfect clean break for DC Studios’ new heads, James Gunn and Peter Safran, to unleash their take on a more focused DC Universe.

Indeed, Gunn has indicated The Flash will provided an in-universe reset for what comes next, just as the original Flashpoint comic book story led to DC’s New 52 reboot and The Flashpoint Paradox introduced the DC Animated Movie Universe. No matter which timeline it’s in, Flashpoint always builds to something new. And we’re excited to see what form the DCU takes after this.

The Flash will hit theaters on Friday, June 16. From there, we should have a better idea about what’s to come. In the meantime, check out GameSpot’s look at the first reactions to the film following its CinemaCon screening!

Blair Marnell
Freelance writer for almost every major geek outlet, including Fandom!