The years leading up to the release of Justice League were full of arguments about the best way to do a team-up movie and whether characters needed stand-alone films first. Marvel Studios has seen unparalleled success by doing just that; setting up characters in their own movies before bringing them together for an event like The Avengers, but Justice League was set to introduce 3 primary members for the first time (other than brief cameos in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice) without giving them their own arc ahead of time.
Despite the many shortcomings of Justice League, the character work for the new heroes worked well enough to set them up, establish the corner of the DC universe they exist in, give them a little backstory, and even treat each one to their own minor arc. This is especially true of Ezra Miller’s Flash, who the movie establishes as Barry Allen, an amateur hero who’s juggling a number of jobs while putting himself through school so he can become a forensic scientist and prove his incarcerated father is innocent of killing his mother. That’s a lot of story, but effectively delivered, even with the unfortunate loss of some additional scenes of character development.
With Barry expected to appear next in Flashpoint, there’s bound to be additional questions of whether Warner Bros. is taking the proper steps to establish him before launching him into such a major story, but thanks to his truncated arc in Justice League, Barry is already in exactly the right place for Flashpoint to be effective.
The story of Flashpoint in the comics sees Barry use the Speed Force to go back in time and prevent his mother’s murder, triggering a butterfly effect whose impact could be felt throughout the entirety of the DC comics universe, landing Flash in an alternate present where his mother and father are alive, but his father had died of a heart attack, he no longer has his powers, the Atlanteans and Amazons are engaged in a massive war, and Barry needs to figure out how to fix it all – a story ripe for the telling after Justice League.
Not only does Justice League take Flash from a fresh-faced hero who’s only “pushed some people and run away” to a full-blown member of the Justice League, fighting Parademons and going up against Steppenwolf, but it also sets up his traditional alter-ego when Bruce (or maybe Commissioner Gordon via Batman) is able to get him a recommendation for a job in a crime lab, ready to continue his efforts to get his dad out of prison.
The two things that are missing now are his ability to run fast enough to time travel and the decision to do so to save his mother. Exactly how they’ll adapt the other elements of the story, particularly the other Justice League members (other than using Jeffrey Dean Morgan as the Thomas Wayne version of Batman, which seems like a no-brainer) remains to be seen, but all the pieces are on the table, just waiting for Barry to pull the trigger.
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