Why Justice League's Flash looks so familiar

He's the Flash, the fastest man alive. And just to be clear, we're not talking about Grant Gustin. Instead, we're talking about the wisecracking outsider from Justice League, the guy who joined up with Batman and Wonder Woman because he needs friends. Fans of the DC Extended Universe know that this Barry Allen was a highlight of the Justice League film, and they can't wait to see him in action in his own movie. But we all have one big question about this Scarlet Speedster…where have we seen him before?

The man behind the mask is Ezra Miller, and over the past few years, he's made quite a name for himself, playing characters ranging from an eccentric high school student to an ice cold killer. He's starred with the likes of Tilda Swinton and Emma Stone, but if you're still not sure where you've seen him before, then hang on as we race into the past and find out why Justice League's Flash looks so familiar.

Californication (2008)

Mainstream audiences (well, the ones watching Showtime, anyway) got their first look at Miller in season two of Tom Kapinos's Californication. The dramedy follows New York writer Hank Moody (David Duchovny) as he moves to L.A., gets a job writing a biography for a famous record producer, and tries to make things work with his partner, Karen (Natascha McElhone), all while using every substance known to man and chasing every single woman who crosses his path.

But hey, we're not here to talk about Fox Mulder. Instead, we're here to focus on the Flash, who first appears in episode three, "No Way to Treat a Lady." Playing a Guitar Hero fan named Damien, the incredibly young Miller immediately hits it off with Hank's wise-beyond-her-years daughter, Becca (Madeleine Martin). The two teens quickly become an item, with Hank constantly hovering nearby and giving Damien a hard time. Of course, Hanks finds it more difficult to pull off the whole "protective father" routine when he (unknowingly) winds up in bed with Damien's mom.

Things get even more complicated when Becca catches Damien making out with another girl, but by the end of season two, the kids have patched things up. And in a sweet "good dad" move, Hank nixes his plans to move back to New York so his kid can stay in L.A. with her boyfriend. In total, Miller shows up in five episodes, and while he's only on for a few minutes, he left a lasting impression on Showtime audiences, especially after imparting wisdom like, "If a beautiful girl is kind enough to kiss you, you kiss her right back. Because who knows where that kiss is going to take you."

City Island (2009)

In 2008, Miller made his cinematic debut in Afterschool, playing a private school student who accidentally films the deaths of two young girls. However, in Miller's next movie, City Island, the actor got to work with recognizable names like Andy Garcia, Emily Mortimer, and Alan Arkin.

Written and directed by Raymond De Felitta, the 2009 comedy focuses on a dysfunctional New York family that's keeping more secrets than the CIA. The dad (Garcia) is a correctional officer who's secretly taking acting classes when he meets his long lost son (Steven Strait) in prison. His daughter (Dominik Garcia-Lorido) has lost her college scholarship and now works as stripper to afford tuition. And as for Miller, he plays the smart-aleck younger brother, Vinny, a quintessential cutup who's constantly skipping class and always has a snarky comeback at the ready.

Just like the rest of his family, Vinny has his own little secrets. In addition to a smoking habit, Vinny fantasizes about feeding overweight women. He's got a crush on a plus-sized girl at school, and he's obsessed with his obese neighbor, going so far as to spy through her window while she prepares food for a diehard internet audience. Eventually, Vinny befriends his overweight neighbor and gets together with his classmate, all while the rest of his family gets into a screaming match on the street before finally admitting all their lies.

In part thanks to Miller's performance, City Island picked up the Tribeca Film Festival's Heineken Audience Award, and the movie helped cement Miller's reputation as a young actor to watch.

Royal Pains (2009-2010)

After Californication, Ezra Miller's next TV role came courtesy of Royal Pains, the USA Network program that focused on Dr. Henry "Hank" Lawson (Mark Feuerstein), an ER doctor who gets canned after a wealthy patient dies on his watch. Shafted by the hospital bureaucrats, Hank eventually makes his way to the Hamptons where he saves the life of a wealthy elite, and soon finds himself hired as a "concierge doctor," a physician to the rich and powerful.

And that's when Tucker Bryant (Miller) steps into the picture. A worldly 16-year-old and great-grandson of the guy who invented the blender, Tucker is a hemophiliac who first meets Hank after crashing his dad's Ferrari. Hank is forced to perform an impromptu surgery on the poor kid, using everything from a bottle of vodka to a Ziploc bag, and after saving Tucker's life, the two quickly become friends. Of course, Hank is worried about more than just Tucker's health, as the boy's wealthy father (who's secretly got a substance abuse problem) is never around.

Miller didn't stick around the show for very long, leaving after season two and showing up in movies like Every Day, Beware the Gonzo, and Another Happy Day before finally getting the role of a lifetime.

We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011)

Directed by Lynne Ramsay, We Need to Talk About Kevin is a devastating gut-punch of a movie, featuring the inimitable Tilda Swinton in one of her finest performances. Playing Eva Khatchadourian, Swinton is a woman that strangers stare at on the street. She's an object of hate and anger, and she seems to be a regular victim of assault and vandalism. As Roger Ebert put it, Eva "looks like she's in a state of shock" as she's often lost in a haze of wine and medication. But what drove her to the absolute edge of her sanity?

In a breakout performance, Ezra Miller plays Eva's sociopathic teenage son, Kevin. As we learn via a fractured timeline, Eva and Kevin have never gotten along. Even as a young boy (played by Rocky Duer and Jasper Newell at different stages in life), Kevin has always hated his mom, and he's done his best to make her life hell. As Ebert puts it, Kevin is "an instinctive sadist with a gift for knowing how to wound her, reject her, deceive her, and make her soul bleed." And as little Kevin grows into a teenager, he becomes more and more violent. Even worse, it seems like Eva is the only one who can see through his manipulative charm.

Of course, there might be a reason for that, as Eva isn't exactly a world-class mom. Throughout the film, we see her actively resenting her son, telling an infant Kevin that she was happier before he was born. At one point, she grows so frustrated that she breaks his arm. Feeding off her resentment, Kevin has turned into a monster armed with a bow, and after years of playing cat-and-mouse with his mom, Kevin has decided it's finally time to put on a show for a bigger audience. With their characters locked in a horrifying hate-hate relationship, Swinton and Miller brought their acting A games to the table, and by the time the credits rolled, everybody in Hollywood was talking about Ezra Miller.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012)

Immediately after playing the psychopathic Kevin, Miller went in a completely different direction with The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Starring Emma Watson and Logan Lerman, the film was written and directed by Stephen Chbosky, adapting his own novel. The story follows freshman student Charlie Kelmeckis (Lerman) who's been struggling with depression and is now trying to navigate his way through the cutthroat world of high school.

Fortunately, he quickly runs into the energetic step-siblings Sam (Watson) and Patrick (Miller). A Rocky Horror fan who's got some pretty sweet dance moves (especially if you're playing "Come On Eileen"), Patrick realizes Charlie is struggling and welcomes the younger kid into his world, taking him under his wing and guiding him through the high school scene. But while he seems like a larger-than-life force full of joie de vivre, Patrick has plenty of problems of his own. He's in an unhealthy relationship and struggling to keep himself numb to his own pain and guilt, and Miller does a fantastic job of transitioning from Patrick's quick-witted wisecracks to his soul-crushing grief.

This was a role close to Miller's heart, as he'd first read Chobsky's novel when he was 14. Talking to The Guardian, he explained that he'd been able to "imagine and hold in [his] mind" the character of Patrick years before accepting the role. And as he put it, he really connected with Wallflower's message of how "with the right art and listening to the Smiths enough, and with some good friends, it might be possible to make it through [life's worst and hardest periods]."

Madame Bovary (2015)

The reviews weren't especially kind to Sophie Barthes's Madame Bovary, although critic Christy Lemire admitted the film was "never less than lovely to look at." Of course, the movie had a whole to live up to, as it's based on one of the most famous novels ever written. Still, it's impossible to deny the film has a talented cast, including Mia Wasikowska, Paul Giamatti, Logan Marshall-Green, and Rhys Ifans. And then, of course, there's Ezra Miller playing a young man hoping to win the heroine's affections, even if she is inconveniently married.

As indicated by the title, the film focuses on a young bride named Madame Bovary (Wasikowska) who marries a dull country doctor and quickly realizes she's not cut out for provincial life. Worried her future is "just a dark corridor with a bolted door at the end," Bovary desperately tries to escape her suffocating circumstances by purchasing expensive items she can't afford and conducting a couple of affairs. One of her lovers is a law clerk named Leon Dupuis (Miller), described as "the last romantic left in all of France." After having his initial advances rebuffed, Leon and Bovary eventually hook up, but this relationship isn't meant to last, and Leon cuts things off when Bovary puts his job and social standing in jeopardy.

Interestingly, her other main squeeze is Logan Marshall-Green, who plays Jackson "Montana" Brice in Spider-Man: Homecoming. So basically, Wasikowska gets the best of both worlds, jumping back and forth between a Marvel villain and a DC superhero.

The Stanford Prison Experiment (2015)

If you've ever opened a psychology textbook, you've probably heard of the Stanford prison experiment. In 1971, Dr. Philip Zimbardo simulated a prison environment at Stanford University by having randomly selected students pretend to be either guards or inmates. Things got very real very fast, and Zimbardo was forced to halt the two-week experiment after only six days. Today, it's considered one of the most terrifying and troubling moments in psychology history, and in 2015, director Kyle Patrick Alvarez put the controversial study on the silver screen, casting Billy Crudup as Zimbardo and tossing Ezra Miller behind bars as Daniel Culp, a.k.a. Prisoner 8612.

Culp is the first "inmate" we meet, and while he initially treats the experiment as a joke, he quickly realizes he's in way over his head. The students playing the guards are taking things far too seriously—especially Michael Angarano's character, who the kids nickname "John Wayne"—and Culp soon finds himself stripped naked, forced to exercise in the middle of the night, and physically assaulted, all before the correctional officers toss him into solitary confinement. Shocked by what's happening, Culp tries to lead a revolution, hoping to inspire his fellow test subjects to resist. He even tries to escape the university, but the combined might of John Wayne and Dr. Zimbardo eventually break his spirit and turn Prisoner 8612 into a broken, raving victim.

And really, that's just the start of the horrors to come, as things get far worse after Culp is sent home. Fortunately, filming The Stanford Prison Experiment wasn't quite as intense, with Miller telling Buzzfeed, "I was actually in a really comfortable and lovely working environment where I was surrounded by really delightful people who were filling me with good energy." However, Miller did say that he found the film incredibly relevant, explaining that he believes now is "a time when we need to ask questions about the prison system and whether prison is an effective form of rehabilitation."

Trainwreck (2015)

Cinema is full of awkward movie love scenes, but they don't get any more uncomfortable than the kinky one-night stand in Trainwreck. Directed by Judd Apatow, the film follows a commitment-phobic journalist named Amy (Amy Schumer) who enjoys a libertine lifestyle and claims monogamy isn't realistic. However, her tune starts changing after she meets a sports doctor played by Bill Hader. Of course, this is a rom-com, which means the two lovebirds momentarily split up after hitting a rocky patch in their relationship. Devastated and drunk, Amy eventually decides to spend the night with her intern, Donald (Miller), and that's where things take a really bizarre turn.

After sharing the most awkward kisses ever caught on camera, Donald starts making some freaky moves. He snorts Adderall off her forehead, tells Amy his safe word is "pineapple," and then insists she sock him in the face. But the night comes to an early end when Donald's mom bursts into the room and informs Amy her kid is only 16. Yeah, the whole scene is incredibly weird, but Miller is absolutely hilarious as a horny teen with no clue what he's doing. Talking to Vulture, Schumer described the scene, saying, "I've never seen two people have less chemistry. I love that, though! The horrible dissonance that it causes just when you see the two of us going in to kiss, you're just like, 'Nooooo!'"

In addition to the crazy sex scene, Trainwreck reunited Miller with his We Need to Talk About Kevin mom, Tilda Swinton. Fortunately, there's way less guinea pig murder this time around.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) and Suicide Squad (2016)

Perhaps one reason the Flash looks so familiar is that we've actually seen him on screen before. The Scarlet Speedster first appeared in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, showing up in a computer file belonging to Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg). Evidently, the maniacal millionaire has been keeping track of metahumans around the world, but Batman (Ben Affleck) eventually steals the file and sets out to assemble the Justice League.

Of course, Batman might've recognized Barry Allen from an earlier scene where the Flash shows up in a weird sort of time-travel dream sequence, telling Bruce that Lois Lane is "the key" and warning the Caped Crusader about an imminent threat. Naturally, Batman assumes the Flash is talking about Superman, but we're not actually sure what the Flash really meant by his cryptic comments. However, we do know the speedster wasn't in the original script. Instead, the decision to stick Flash into the film didn't come until Zack Snyder was already shooting. The director was planning ahead for Justice League and decided to lay some groundwork by adding Miller to the mix. Here's hoping we'll find out who we're supposed to "fear" in the upcoming film.

Time travel aside, the Flash also made a brief cameo in Suicide Squad, capturing Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney) while quipping, "No honor among thieves, eh?" Unlike Batman v Superman, the Flash was always supposed to show up in the film, but according to director David Ayer, things panned out even better than he'd hoped because Miller was working on Justice League at the time and had his new and improved suit ready to go. As Ayer put it, "They had Ezra, and they had the costume, and it's like, dude, give me, give me, give me."

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016)

Whether he's playing a sociopath or a superhero, Ezra Miller is always good for a sarcastic comment or a biting one-liner. And that's why his portrayal of Credence Barebone is so unusual. After all, most Miller characters exude some level of confidence, but the pale-faced Second Salemer always looks like he's about to break down crying. Of course, if you lived with Mary Lou Barebone (Samantha Morton), you'd probably feel pretty miserable too.

In Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, the Barebones lead an organization called the New Salem Philanthropic Society, a group dedicated to ridding the world of witchcraft. Mary Lou, the zealot running the show, uses a small army of children to pass out flyers supporting her cause. She's also adopted three children, the oldest of whom is Credence, and tragically, he's regularly subjected to beatings at Mary Lou's hand. So that might explain why he's so eager to work with Percival Graves (Colin Farrell), head of MACUSA's Department of Magical Law Enforcement. Hoping to escape Mary Lou's clutches, Credence agrees to help Graves find a particular child with incredible powers, and in exchange, Graves promises to rescue him and instruct the young man in the wizarding ways.

Tragically, Credence's plans don't exactly pan out, and we soon discover there's more to this guy than meets the eye. As for Miller, the actor has been a J.K. Rowling fan since age seven, when his dad started reading him the Harry Potter series. Getting to play a part in the franchise must've been a dream come true, although getting such an awful haircut probably wasn't much fun. Still, Miller knew the bowl cut "was the perfect way to express the reality of this character," and even though he had to part with his "really long hair," he agreed the look was "just perfect for [Credence]."

Really, Miller's performance as Barebone allowed the actor to explore his quieter, shy side, and when you compare this withdrawn character to the monstrous Kevin or the cocky Flash, it's a pretty great reminder that Ezra Miller is an insanely talented actor who seems likely to keep amazing us for years to come.