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The Flash movie: Everything we know so far

After years of struggling to keep up with Marvel, Warner Bros. seems to have finally corrected course with the DC Comics-inspired film franchise colloquially known as the DC Extended Universe (DCEU). Still, at least one project tainted by years of production troubles still lurks in the dark like an angry Batfleck ready to pounce on unsuspecting moviegoers: The Flash has been in production since 2013, and has had so many different people working on the project that it's hard to comprehend what the film even is at this point. 

When The Flash was announced in 2014, Warners was in the midst of trying to build an ambitious, interconnected series of superhero films like the Marvel Cinematic Universe — but after the painful disappointment of 2017's would-be blockbuster event Justice League, studio execs wisely altered their approach, abandoning team-ups and scoring hits with independent single-character adventures like Shazam! and Aquaman. Now that the DCEU is placing an emphasis on individual character stories for the foreseeable future, where does that leave The Flash? Here's everything we know so far.

The Flash movie and the dawn of the DCEU

Warner Bros. intended for 2013's Man of Steel — Zack Snyder's heavily anticipated reboot of the Superman franchise — to be a foundation for future films based on DC Comics characters. As then-studio chief Jeff Robinov put it in an interview a few months before the film's release, "I think you'll see that, going forward, anything can live in this world." 

Including subtle DC Universe references such as logos for LexCorp and Wayne Enterprises provided Warner Bros. with an avenue to launch a shared universe of films if Man of Steel was a hit with audiences. Just before the film's release, it was reported that a sequel was being fast-tracked — and at the San Diego Comic-Con in July 2013, the studio revealed that the sequel would introduce a new Batman, essentially announcing the creation of a shared universe. Bringing two of the biggest household names in pop culture together to kick off a new film franchise certainly is a way to grab headlines. In October 2014, Warner Bros. announced a whopping list of ten upcoming DC films, including The Flash, and the cinematic universe fans would dub the DC Extended Universe, or DCEU for short, was born.

Greg Berlanti (temporarily) takes the helm of the Flash movie

In July 2013, the studio revealed that Greg Berlanti, creator of the hit DC-inspired CW series Arrow, was developing another television series about the Flash. This program would eventually come to fruition, becoming a success of its own, but at one point, Berlanti was also working on a Flash movie as well. (Berlanti's schedule at the time had to be absolutely insane — in addition to working on Arrow, the Flash film and the Flash series, he was also executive producing the short-lived CW reboot of The Tomorrow People.) 

In October 2014, The Flash was announced with the rest of the DC films, and given a 2018 release date. The initial draft of the script was written by Berlanti and his screenwriting partners Chris Brancato, Michael Green and Marc Guggenheim who previously wrote the critical and financial flop Green Lantern. Not much is known about this version of the film, but there is one interesting tidbit that has since come out from Guggenheim: plans called for Green Lantern to show up at the end, further expanding an already ambitious cinematic universe.

Ezra Miller signs on to star in the Flash movie

During that fateful 2014 Time Warner investors meeting, it was revealed that up-and-coming actor Ezra Miller had been cast as Barry Allen, a.k.a. the Flash, for the DC Extended Universe slate of films. Known primarily for his roles in smaller movies like 2013's Perks of Being a Wallflower and 2011's We Need to Talk About Kevin, Miller's casting came out of left field as an exciting choice by the studio. 

Aside from being an acclaimed young talent, Miller was also the first out LGBTQ actor to play a major superhero in a feature film. Sir Ian McKellen starred as Magneto in the X-Men series, but his character isn't truly a hero; Ellen Page starred in the same series as Kitty Pryde, but she was cast before publicly coming out in February of 2014. Warners' decision to cast Miller was a forward-thinking move by the studio, and Miller has appeared as Barry Allen's Flash in three films thus far — two cameos (one in 2016's Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice and one in 2016's Suicide Squad) and one starring role in 2017's Justice League.

Lord & Miller take their shot at the Flash movie

In April 2015, filmmaking duo Phil Lord and Christopher Miller signed on to write a new story treatment for The Flash. The Academy Award-winning pair met while attending Dartmouth College and have had a successful career in Hollywood over the past decade, including directing and writing animated hits Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and The Lego Movie, directing the live-action comedy films 21 Jump Street and 22 Jump Street, and co-producing the television comedy series The Last Man on Earth. Funnily enough, in the same year they were hired to write The Flash, Lord and Miller were also hired by Sony to work on another superhero project in the form of the animated film Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, which would go on to gross over $375 million on a $90 million budget and win the Oscar for Best Animated Feature.

The Flash movie and the changing DCEU

Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice was released on March 26, 2016, giving fans their first opportunity to see the two title characters together (alongside Wonder Woman, no less) in a live-action film. Miller also appeared, making a lightning-fast cameo to whet the audience's appetite for the upcoming reality of a big-screen Flash. Unfortunately, Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice was railed by critics and fans while struggling to reach its box office goals despite featuring some of the most famous superheroes of all time.

In May 2016, Warner Bros. created an all-new DC Films division with comic book writer/Hollywood producer Geoff Johns and Warner Bros. Executive Vice President Jon Berg as department heads. Seeing the success Disney was having with Marvel, Warner Bros. created DC Films to oversee production across their superhero film projects in order to create a more cohesive creative throughline for the comics-based franchise. The behind-the-scenes changes weren't over, either — in December of the same year, President of Creative Development and Worldwide Production Greg Silverman was fired from his role at Warner Bros., and Toby Emmerich was promoted to President and Chief Content Officer in his place.

The Flash movie quickly loses two directors

In the year following Batman v. Superman Dawn of Justice's release and the subsequent changes at Warner Bros., The Flash saw numerous behind-the-scenes changes as well. Seth Grahame-Smith, writer of bestselling novels Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter (and co-writer of the screenplay for The Lego Batman Movie), had signed on to direct the picture but dropped out of the project after citing "creative differences" with the studio. Six months later, the man hired to replace him would follow suit.

Rick Famuyiwa, director of indie hit Dope and HBO original film Confirmation, also dropped out as director of The Flash due to creative differences with the studio. "I pitched a version of the film in line with my voice, humor and heart," he explained. "While it's disappointing that we couldn't come together creatively on the project, I remain grateful for the opportunity." In January 2017, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword screenwriter Joby Harold was hired to do yet another rewrite of the script, which previously had drafts written by Grahame-Smith and Famuyiwa working from the story treatment from Lord and Miller. The changes didn't end there.

The Flash movie becomes Flashpoint

During the 2017 San Diego Comic-Con, The Flash was formally retitled Flashpoint — and fans started to get excited bout the possible film adaptation of an immensely popular comic book crossover series. 

The Flashpoint comics arc centers on five issues in which Barry Allen goes back in time using the Speed Force (don't ask) to stop his mother from being murdered, altering the entire DC Universe timeline in the process. Totaling over 60 issues, the wide-ranging Flashpoint event changed many things about DC's most popular superheroes, including pitting Wonder Woman and Aquaman against one another in a war between their respective nations and Thomas Wayne (Bruce's father) becoming Batman. In a bit of somewhat unsurprising brand synergy, Flashpoint's architect in the comics just happened to be one of the men leading DC Films into the future: Geoff Johns. At some point after the 2017 announcement, the movie's Flashpoint title was reverted back to The Flash, but fans are still hopeful that a Flashpoint-inspired story will make its way to the multiplex.

The Flash movie gains a pair of Homecoming kings

A prolonged director search ensued after Rick Famuyiwa left The Flash, with Warner Bros. reportedly meeting with big-name directors such as Back to the Future's Robert Zemeckis and X-Men: First Class' Matthew Vaughn for the gig. The search ended in March 2018, when John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein were attached to helm the picture. Daley and Goldstein come from a solid background, writing and directing some major Hollywood successes over the past decade. 

The duo hit the ground running with their first major project in 2011, writing the solid screenplay for comedy hit Horrible Bosses. After some duds — the less said about The Incredible Burt Wonderstone and Vacation the better — they came back in a big way by writing the screenplay for the extremely popular MCU film Spider-Man: Homecoming. The pair also went on to direct the 2018 surprise comedy smash Game Night, which offered further proof of their unique gift for action and comedy. Daley and Goldstein seemed to be a perfect match for The Flash's blend of wit and drama but — in a move that has become far-too-common for the project — the team walked away from the film in 2019.

The Flash movie: a speedster multiverse, slow to start

After spending so long in development hell, and finally finding directors after an extended search, you'd think The Flash would be ready to get started — but in October 2018, Variety reported the film's production had been pushed back yet again from its rumored March/April 2019 start date and would miss its expected 2020 release. In February 2019, producer Michael Disco signed a two-year exclusive production deal with New Line and Warner Bros. that included Disco hopping on the production of The Flash. Later that month, Ezra Miller revealed more about the film's story: "We're talking about sparking a whole new universe, it's not just the DC multiverse, it's the speedster multiverse. And the speedsters are the ones who connect all the disparate pieces of it... all these different stories with different realities, different characters and different versions of characters. And the speedsters are the ones who move through it all." It's hard to say just where the story will go at this point, but there is some positive casting information out in the open for fans to get excited about.

Billy Crudup joins the Flash cast

In September 2016, Billy Crudup was cast in an uncredited supporting role as Henry Allen in Justice League, with an eye towards a larger part in The Flash. With roles in everything from the English dub of Japanese cult hit Princess Mononoke to Tom Cruise mega-picture Mission: Impossible III, from Academy Award-winning Spotlight to Tim Burton-directed Big Fish, Crudup has had an expansive career showcasing his range as an actor. He also isn't a stranger to the superhero genre: he starred as Dr. Manhattan in Justice League director Zack Snyder's 2009 comic book adaptation Watchmen. In May 2017, a rumor surfaced that Crudup had left the project as it went further and further into a production spiral, but that proved to be unfounded. Crudup brings real gravitas to his extremely limited role as Barry Allen's father in Justice League and will surely be an asset to Daley and Goldstein as they move forward on production of The Flash.

Kiersey Clemons is the Flash movie's female lead

In early July 2016, Variety reported that then-director Rick Famuyiwa was "zeroing in on a familiar face for [The Flash's] female lead" and that his top choice for the role was Kiersey Clemons, who'd earlier starred in Famuyiwa's critically acclaimed Dope. Later that month, Kiersey was officially cast in the role — and she's managed to stick around through all of the subsequent production halts and restarts, waiting in the wings to show her take on the character. Clemons even filmed a quick scene with Ezra Miller for Justice League that ended up on the cutting room floor. Though her casting in The Flash has yet to come to big-screen fruition, she's kept lining up steady work: her role in Disney's live-action remake of 1955's Lady and the Tramp is set to hit the new Disney+ streaming service, and she also booked a voice role in Warner Animation's 2020 Scooby-Doo film.

The Flash movie gains yet another new director and screenwriter

Adding to the long list of behind-the-scenes shakeups on The Flash, the Hollywood Reporter dropped a bombshell in March 2019 when they reported that Ezra Miller was teaming up with comics legend Grant Morrison to write a draft of the script. Miller and Morrison were looking to stick to some of the darker material from the comics, something Warner Bros. was reluctant to do after "serious" DC films Man of SteelBatman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, and Suicide Squad failed to resonate with audiences and Shazam! and Aquaman scored hits with a far lighter feel. 

The whirlwind of change didn't end there. In July 2019, it was reported that Daley and Goldstein had left the project and Andy Muschietti — director of horror smash It – was in talks to helm the film. Warner Bros. also reportedly decided not to move forward with the draft Miller and Morrison had come up with earlier in the year, instead bringing on Bumblebee screenwriter Christina Hodson to pen a new draft for Muschietti's take. Hodson is also the writer behind the screenplay for upcoming DC film Birds of Prey. It's hard to say if the turmoil will end here, but one thing is certain: change seems to affect "the fastest man alive" rather... quickly.