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We Finally Understand The Flash's Cameo In Batman V Superman

Just a couple of years ago, Zack Snyder was the key creative force behind the entirety of DC's extended cinematic universe. Prior to its release in spring 2016, Snyder's big-screen face off between DC's most iconic heroes was legitimately one of the most anticipated movies in history. Sadly, when Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice soared into theaters, it proved a muddled, overstuffed mess of a film — and a stark reminder that Warner Bros. Pictures and DC Entertainment were probably a bit too eager to catch up to the shared universe model that was making Marvel billions in box office returns.

In reality, WB and DC tried to accomplish in a single film the same narrative ingenuity Marvel had, by then, meticulously been plotting out for nearly a decade. While Batman v Superman may not be quite the disaster it's been framed as in years since, the film still left most moviegoers as underwhelmed by the chaotic onscreen action as they were confused by some truly baffling narrative twists. Chief among them was the unexpected appearance of Ezra Miller's Barry Allen, a.k.a. the Flash.

The scarlet speedster made an appropriately brief appearance during a key moment in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, waking Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) from a nightmare to offer a warning about the future. To the surprise of many, the Flash already seemed well-acquainted not only with the Batman's alter ego, but also the apocalyptic events of which Bruce had just been dreaming. 

With Warner Bros. having now all but abandoned its vision for an MCU-styled shared universe after the overwhelming failure of its own team-up flick, Justice League, Snyder has been teasing fans with what might've been if the DCEU hadn't fallen to pieces. He's even shed some light on the Flash's perplexing Batman v Superman cameo.  

Snyder apparently had a wildly intricate plan for the Justice League sequels

Snyder's latest look behind the curtain of Batman v Superman came via a recent livestream of the film that saw him delivering insightful commentary about the Flash's cameo (via ComicBook.com). As it happens, the confusing scene was likely intended to be just that, as Snyder stated he was planning to use the moment to frame an intricate overarching narrative that would've impacted the planned Justice League sequels.

"I had this idea that in the future when they [the Justice League] are talking about sending Flash back to warn [Bruce Wayne], that Cyborg would be doing the calculations to send him back and would say, 'I have two possibilities of where to send Flash back in time. The numbers point to two moments to warn you [Bruce],'" Snyder revealed. "If it's right near the moment when this vent might happen — where Lois might get killed, or Bruce isn't able to stop it, however that's happening — it would be important if Flash came closer to that moment so that Bruce could understand the reality of it."

He continued, "So, in the future, Bruce says to Cyborg, 'Well, what times would you send me back to — what time right now would you send me back?' And Cyborg says, 'I'm leaning toward this.' And Bruce says, 'Do the other one, because you already sent him back here and it was too early, so send me to the other one.' So that's how he's able to get him [Flash] back again: because in the new timeline, he goes to a different point in time that's closer to the event that we haven't seen yet in this film."

It seems Snyder's plan was to use the Flash's time-hopping interventions to explore disparate timelines: one that saw Superman break bad and enslave humanity, and one in which Batman and the gang get ahead of Superman's Darkseid team-up to get Supes back on the side of the righteous.

Snyder also addressed that apocalyptic nightmare scene in Batman v Superman

While heads are likely spinning by the sheer audacity of the narrative possibilities Snyder's dual timeline approach might've spawned, it's not hard to speculate that removing (or restructuring) that concept was a big part of the infamous Justice League rewrites-slash-reshoots, and may help explain why it was such a mess in terms of both tone and narrative. Now that we sort of know what Snyder was attempting with his multi-film Justice League narrative, that confusing appearance by the Flash in Batman v Superman makes more sense. 

Snyder also used his livestream watch party to share that the "Flash from the future" cameo may have directly influenced another confusing Batman v Superman moment: Bruce Wayne's bizarre apocalyptic dream-vision of Earth's downfall. He explained (via ComicBook.com), "I guess it's boring for him waiting for it to decrypt so he fell asleep, maybe or I'm not sure. Maybe it's a by-product of Flash cracking on the cosmic treadmill or whether it creates some sort of rift where it allows Batman to see into the future. It could be a combo of those things."

We're as skeptical of the physics involved in that logic as anyone, but it's a far better explanation for Bruce's "vision" than just assuming Snyder's Batman is also clairvoyant. So if he says the Flash opened up a rift in space-time that let Bruce dream-view the future, we're all for it. Either way, we're now officially bummed we didn't get to see Snyder make this Justice League vision whole.