Actor Bill Crudup and in-the-running director Sam Raimi have both reportedly passed on The Flash. The DCEU outing for the Scarlet Speedster has proven to be one of the most arduous pre-productions for the Warner Bros. shared universe. It’s already been through two directors (Seth Grahame-Smith and Rick Famuyiwa) and is currently undergoing a major rewrite, with its eventual production start and release window unclear (for sure its original 2018 date is incredibly unlikely).
Recently things looked like they may be moving around. Following up talk of meetings, Robert Zemeckis is reported by several sources to be the front-runner to direct, while the names of Matthew Vaughn and Sam Raimi have been thrown into the mix. Now it seems we can discount at least one of them.
EW is reporting that Raimi has passed on the project, along with The Amazing Spider-Man‘s Marc Webb. The news comes along with the unexpected development that Billy Crudup, who plays Barry Allen’s father Henry in Justice League, likely won’t be appearing in the film. [UPDATE: Both The Wrap‘s Umberto Gonzalez and THR are now reporting that Crudup remains attached to play Henry Allen in The Flash solo movie. The remainder of this article has been left as it was originally written.]
Raimi made his name with the Evil Dead trilogy and showed his blockbuster chops with the original Spider-Man films, the first two of which are still regarded as some of the best examples of the superhero genre. He previously clashed with studios – in this case Sony – on the third of that series, so it’s possible worry over Warner Bros. approach to the DCEU films got in the way. It’s interesting that fellow Spidey alum Webb (whose Amazing films were a reboot of Raimi’s) was also approached, reaffirming WB are casting a wide net and looking for someone with proven superhero form (or, in Zemeckis’ case, time travel).
As for Crudup, this is an even more surprising turn. It was presumed his part in Justice League was setting up a larger role in the standalone, possibly as “in” to a Reverse-Flash story. Of course, it may have simply been a favor on director Zack Snyder’s part to his Watchmen star (Crudup played Doctor Manhattan) – and if it ever was proper establishment that’s not going to be the case now. The actor had commented previously that the shooting schedule was unclear and with his involvement now stretching into the years, it’s not surprising he’d want to move to something more active, especially after the boost he’ll get from Alien: Covenant.
Where this leaves the film is unclear. Both remaining directors Zemeckis and Vaughn have other projects in the pipeline – Steve Carell’s Marwencol (due 2018) and Kingsman 3 respectively – which at best delays development.
However, while this is bad news for The Flash fans wanting a cinematic outing, the DCEU elsewhere is on an increasingly strong footing. Wonder Woman is just a few weeks out with solid box office projections, followed by Justice League in November, after which there are the currently-shooting Aquaman and a litany of other projects in development (including a clearly well-along-the-way Batgirl and Wonder Woman sequel).