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The Huge DC Superhero Movie Flop That Found A Second Life On Netflix

Netflix fans are loving one of DC's biggest flops. Prior to its release, Andy Muschietti's "The Flash" was being hyped up as one of the greatest superhero films ever made — it even had a major stan in Tom Cruise. The hype eventually came to a halt as "The Flash" bombed at the box office upon release, emerging as one of the biggest financial misfires of 2023. The Ezra Miller-starring flick, which reportedly lost Warner Bros. north of $150 million, is finally getting a second life on Netflix. On June 26, "The Flash" was the second-most watched film on Netflix in the US, coming in just behind the platform's very own "Trigger Warning."

It's surprising that audiences are embracing "The Flash" now that it's on Netflix. Viewers gave the superhero epic the cold shoulder when it bowed into multiplexes in mid-June 2023, giving it a poor $55 million domestic debut. But now that it's easily accessible, fans who were initially wary are apparently more likely to watch it. While the DC batch of films isn't as beloved as Marvel's, the movies still boast name recognition, making them digestible options for Netflix users who want a simple action flick to occupy their time. 

The initial hype that manifested during CinemaCon 2023 didn't exactly translate to stellar critical receipts. On Rotten Tomatoes, "The Flash" has an average 63% critics score. Looper critic Dominic Griffin gave the would-be blockbuster a 5/10, praising the performances but finding the third act to be half-baked. Fans on Rotten Tomatoes, however, have embraced the project, awarding it 83% audience score. 

The stained legacy of The Flash

Financially, it's no secret that "The Flash" was a huge flop, and its commercial failure will likely dominate the conversation surrounding its legacy. But it's quite interesting that audiences rejected the film considering what the project was set out to be. In "The Flash," Barry Allen (Ezra Miller) goes back in time to stop his mom (Maribel Verdú) from being murdered. In trying to do so, he ends up dealing with the multiverse, coming across Michael Keaton's Batman and Sasha Calle's Supergirl. The release was ostensibly trying to recreate the magic of "Spider-Man: No Way Home," which successfully introduced several versions of Peter Parker in one huge project. 

"The Flash" features a whopping three Batmen (Keaton, Ben Affleck, and... George Clooney) and did a decent enough job of trying to create a compelling, emotional multiverse romp. If the film was a success, then DC would have pivoted its entire trajectory to accommodate its financial (and critical) achievements. Keaton's Batman was meant to be the DCEU's Nick Fury, but that obviously didn't happen. The film's failure doesn't exist in a vacuum, however. The year 2023 saw DC also release flops in the form of "Shazam! Fury of the Gods" and "Blue Beetle." 

Following its 2023 slate's much-pronounced failure, Warner Bros. decided to just outright abandon the DC Extended Universe, handing over the keys of the kingdom to filmmaker James Gunn and producer Peter Safran. Under their leadership, the DC franchise is being completely retooled and rebooted, with their first major project being "Superman," which debuts in summer 2025.