When Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice was announced, few would have believed that in a cast reported to include Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Lex Luthor, Aquaman and more, it would be a lesser-known actor in a completely unknown role who got rumors swirling. But when set photos of Scoot McNairy (Argo, Monsters) dropped a major hint about his onscreen role, fans didn't wait to start asking: had director Zack Snyder revealed his version of The Flash?
We're not so sure the evidence to support that character is there, and have offered our thoughts on why any appearance by Barry Allen in BvS might be a long shot. But if not The Flash, then what role could McNairy be playing? Read on for our own theory on just how important his character - and his legs, specifically - could play in the formation of the Justice League.
As we've mentioned in the past, fans of any comic book film are always better off taking set reports, insider scoops or rumors with a grain of salt. Nothing illustrates the virtue of patience better than the McNairy-focused rumors: give the facts a closer look, and it's hard to see a plan for post-production effects on the actor's legs (below the knee) as any sign of super-speed.
Could it be evidence that Snyder and screenwriter David S. Goyer have tweaked Barry Allen's origin story, replacing his legs with mechanical ones that grant him super-speed? That's possible given the lack of any real evidence, but there could be a far simpler and more direct explanation; one that fits with what's already been rumored or confirmed about Dawn of Justice's story.
It was assumed from the very beginning that Ben Affleck's veteran Batman would enter the story intent on holding Superman (Henry Cavill) responsible for the destruction of Metropolis - and elsewhere - seen in Man of Steel (whether his direct role in the damage, or 'bringing' the threat to Earth). But recent set videos and photos have hinted that Bruce Wayne's story begins during the Battle of Metropolis, not after.
Those suspicions developed into the theory that Dawn of Justice could include characters and events not shown during the past film: Bruce Wayne aiding the city's residents, witnessing Superman's power firsthand, and giving Wonder Woman her cue to enter. In short, turn Man of Steel's finale into the event that brought the Justice League's members out into the light.
If that is the case, then Scoot McNairy's role - be it superpowered or not - has to fit in somewhere. Without any real evidence, it's best to start with the most obvious explanation: when an actor's legs are 'wrapped in green-screen,' it usually means their character will be losing them. And it just so happens that missing limbs fits perfectly with one League member who is already part of the cast.
As proof that rumors are often more enticing than fact, fans are still frothing at the mouth for a confirmation of Jason Momoa's Aquaman, despite the fact that Ray Fisher has already been cast as Victor Stone a.k.a. Cyborg. The assumption has been that Stone will be the 'newcomer' of the group (as he was in DC's 'New 52' reboot of the League), introduced as a college football star before a disaster leaves him clinging to life, saved only by becoming the creature known as 'Cyborg.'
Zack Snyder's decision to film a Metropolis/Gotham university football game all but confirmed those theories, but exactly when - and how - a college athlete is infused with billions of dollars of nanotechnology is still a mystery. The cast of Dawn of Justice is already sizable, with Batman and Superman expected to carry a bulk of the story. So how does Snyder plan to squeeze in Cyborg's origin and transformation without it seeming out of place?
We've had our own ideas, but the recent tease of Scoot McNairy's character (and his potential injuries) may be the key. An actor of his caliber wasn't expected to be in a throwaway role - so could he represent the first step toward the S.T.A.R. Labs techno-organic technology that saves Victor Stone?
Luckily, Snyder already introduced S.T.A.R. Labs in the form of Dr. Emil Hamilton (Richard Schiff), a colleague of General Swanwick (Harry Lennix). With Hamilton... out of the picture, there's an opening in the movie universe for S.T.A.R.'s top mind - The Chief, or more likely, creator of the Metal Men Dr. Will Magnus - and that is certainly a role befitting McNairy's skills. And if he lost his legs in the first film's finale to have them replaced through advanced work in nanotechnology, then he would (literally) act as a walking link between Man of Steel and Justice League (while leaving another franchise exploring the line between man and machine open for the future).
Many fans will be disappointed to find that McNairy won't be bringing 'Metallo' to life, as the Kryptonite-powered villain seemed to justify Lex Luthor's presence in the story. Victor Stone would still be in need of a disaster to destroy his body, so it's still possible that the fight between Bats and Supes teased at SDCC won't be the only one in the film. And who knows: for McNairy, legs could be just the beginning...
Bu this theory of ours comes with some issues. In the most recent version of Cyborg's origins, it is Victor Stone's father - a S.T.A.R. Labs scientist - who demands his son be fused with nanotechnology, despite the unforeseen risks. Given the size of the cast already, adding yet another 'important' scientist seems like a headache for any writer. Unless, of course, they work with one of the stronger characters they've already got.
We speak, of course, of General Swanwick (Harry Lennix), the military man charged with monitoring Superman's emergence, and stepping into a liaison role by the end of the film. Lennix's past roles in several sci-fi franchises makes him a familiar face with a Comic-Con crowd, and Snyder showed his own affection for the actor when he gave him the honor of announcing Batman V Superman to the world. It may be a change to the comic book canon, but as we see it, introducing Victor as Swanwick's son solves multiple problems at once.
It's purely speculation on our part, but it's the kind of tweak that we tend to get behind (and makes the lives of writers Goyer and Chris Terrio a lot easier). With one sweep of the pen, Snyder would be able to not only anchor Lennix into the franchise going forward, but build off of the foundations of MoS even more. Not to mention explain why Vic would be present at a disaster scene, or how he would circumvent military protocol and be fused with experimental technology.
Practicality aside, Goyer, Nolan and Snyder have all shown an interest in themes of fatherhood and legacy. Perhaps after Clark Kent's life told the story of a son adopting his father's mission, Vic Stone's will tell of a son who leaps into a world his father refuses to. And that's a role we would love to see Lennix adopt for future films.
Again, that's merely some creative speculation and problem-solving on our part. But we would hope that our theory reminds fans that clutching an unlikely dream doesn't just risk disappointment - sometimes, even the most straightforward solutions can open up plenty of doors to the right screenwriter. And when you've got half a dozen beloved characters to bring together, streamlining a story is always welcome.
What do you think of our theory? Would Scoot McNairy's role at S.T.A.R. Labs seem like the right way to hint at the path Vic Stone will eventually walk? Would you be more or less excited by these changes to canon? Share your thoughts in the comments.
Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice arrives on March 25th, 2016.
Follow me on Twitter @andrew_dyce for Batman V Superman updates as well as movie, TV, and gaming news.