Is ‘The Flash’ Just a Flash in the Pan?

Film critics have finally been allowed to see The Flash, the new DC Comics superhero movie delayed because of the legal problems of its star, American actor Ezra Miller.

Miller’s performance in Justice League, Suicide Squad and Batman Vs Superman led into his first planned solo movie, butcritics have been divided as to whether The Flash is a success. The Times and The Guardian have both given it two stars, with the latter calling the character a “gurning, smirking mess”, but the Evening Standard hailed it as “one of the best superhero movies of the 21st Century so far” and Rolling Stone called it ‘The best DC Comics Extended Universe Superhero movie yet”.

READ ALSO: What Are The Top Ten Worst Superhero Movies of All Time?

Part of the critics’ problem with the film is that star Ezra Miller, who identifies as non-binary, has been arrested several times and had treatment for mental health issues in the run-up to the movie. In January he narrowly avoided a prison term after pleading guilty to unlawfully trespassing at a neighbour’s house, but received probation and a mental health treatment order.

In April 2020, Miller was caught on tape allegedly choking a woman and throwing her to the ground outside of a bar, and in February 2022 reportedly intimidated and verbally harassed a woman in Berlin. In March 2022, Miller was arrested for disorderly conduct and harassment at a karaoke bar in Hawaii, cited as yelling obscenities, grabbing a microphone from a woman, and lunging at another bar patron.

In June 2022, the Los Angeles Times reported that the parents of 18-year-old Sioux teen Gibson Iron Eyes had obtained a protective order against Miller, accusing him of ‘psychologically manipulating, physically intimidating and endangering the safety and welfare of’ their child, who had reportedly run away with the actor.

As a result, Miller has done no promotion for the release of The Flash, and a lot of the publicity has revolved around the appearance in the movie of Michael Keaton as Batman. Keaton played the character in two Tim Burton moves in the late 80s and early 90s, and is a fan favourite (certainly compared to some of the later actors to take the role of Batman).


In The Flash, Ezra Miller plays Barry Allen, a police forensic investigator and member of the Justice League who can move at superhuman speeds. The character travels back in time to prevent the death of his mother, for which his father was wrongly convicted, and (as we could have told him), this meddling with the timelines has disastrous consequences, which only an other-worldly Bruce Wayne/Batman can repair.

Reviewers have noted that the script includes a line addressing The Flash’s mental health problems, but haven’t been very impressed by this attempt to brush Miller’s behaviour under the carpet.

Generally well received are the appearances of Michael Keaton and Ben Affleck as Batmen, and Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman.

The Independent’s Clarisse Loughrey’s gave the film three stars, calling it “muddled, poignant and – because of Ezra Miller – morally tricky”, though unlike the recent Batgirl, which was canned after poor pre-release responses, no-one is suggesting that The Flash should not have seen the light of day.

“There’s no real sense that anyone would be helped by either the release or the cancellation of Miller’s movie,” said Clarisse Loughrey. “In both scenarios, Warner Bros gets to shrug all responsibility and focus on the fate of its product and not the people it employs.”

Rolling Stone‘s critic David Fear said it was “by far the best movie to come out of this modern, post-Nolan Warners/DC collaboration”, adding that Michael Keaton not only reprises his role wonderfully, but also slots himself into the complicated narrative so that he’s in line with what The Flash as a whole is trying to do.

The Flash is in UK cinemas from 16th June.

See also: Why Has the Batgirl Movie Been Shelved?

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