[WARNING: This article contains SPOILERS for The Flash origin story]
Fans of DC Comics may still be reeling from the new glimpses of The Flash offered in the new Justice League trailer (or the wealth of DC movie easter eggs) but one other detail concerning the DCEU's Barry Allen has us wondering: has Zack Snyder already confirmed the Reverse-Flash's handiwork? It's a question that bears more weight today than when talk of a solo Flash movie was first happening in the mid to late 2000s, thanks to the success of The CW's The Flash - and the torment that the yellow-suited killer has wrought on its plucky hero.
Back when Justice League was first announced to be bringing Barry Allen (Ezra Miller) to the DCEU, some wondered if having two Flashes would ever work. Not just for the 'confusion' but the challenge of avoiding repetition. After seeing The Flash in the Justice League trailer, comparisons or confusion seem far less likely, with Barry's superspeed looking and feeling different. But the two heroes share a family trauma, according to that status of Barry's father... in the DCEU, the Reverse-Flash may have already murdered Barry's mother.
For those a bit foggy on the origin story, or who haven't faithfully followed The Flash on The CW, it follows the modern origin story of Barry Allen to the letter. As a child, Barry watched as his mother died of mysterious knife wounds with the blade inexplicably found in his father's ahnds. His parents were a loving, happy couple, but the police were faced with an obvious explanation. Henry Allen was charged with the murder of his wife, Nora, and Barry Allen was forced to grow up surrounded by tragedy.
Again, fans of The CW's Flash know this story front to back by now, but the addition is actually a recent one. Back when DC Films boss Geoff Johns was plotting Barry Allen's Rebirth in the DC Universe back in the early 200os, he crafted that origin story you just heard, with one supremely painful twist: Nora Allen's murderer was Eobard Thawne, the Reverse-Flash. It would be decades before he called The Flash his enemy, but when the Reverse-Flash mastered time travel, he headed back to Barry's happier childhood to murder his mother and frame his father. Barry never even knew there had been another life to lead.
We bring this all up because the Justice League trailer, aside from featuring a number of glimpses of Barry Allen's physics-smashing superspeed, also includes a short exchange between Barry and his father, Henry (Billy Crudup). It's not a verbal exchange, but one through glass, with Henry Allen clearly already in prison. If you're as devout a follower of the DC Comics source mythology, the reason Henry Allen is behind bars is for the murder of his wife, Nora. A murder he did not commit. A murder carried out by Eobard Thawne.
Technically, Thawne hasn't even become a villain of Barry Allen's yet (he's only now becoming a superhero at all). But thanks to the time loop nature of Barry's modern origin story, Henry Allen being in prison means the Reverse-Flash will be born, will appear, and will eventually travel backwards through time to kill Nora Allen, landing Henry in prison from the start. And that's how this one brief sequence can be taken as proof that some thing that has not yet happened actually must, at some point in the future. So, when will fans get to see the Reverse-Flash?
That's a tricky question to answer. While Zack Snyder may be implicitly confirming that the DCEU's Flash will share his comic book origin - which, honestly, would almost certainly be the case whether Henry were included or not - the nature of that story means the fans might know who killed Barry's mother years before Barry does. If we're playing this by the numbers, solo Flash movies would need to introduce the hero, introduce the villain, and then potentially unravel a decades-long rivalry before Thawne even decides to commit the murder in the first place (we think... time travel is strange).
So even if those events are years in the future, if you know that's the story or origin you intend to honor, then Barry's father can only be one place: prison. Which, in the Justice League trailer, he is confirmed to be. It may be a small detail, but it's the first clue in a long mystery that has to be there from the start.
The speculation can now begin among the fans: will any hints towards the strange fate which befell the Allen Family be offered in Justice League? Or will the DCEU version of the story - unlike that of the TV show - assume a typical wrongful conviction story from the beginning? Will Henry Allen know his son is a superhero, or just a loner experimental physicist (in the more mechanical, less 'theoretical' respect)? And just how well will Ezra Miller and Billy Crudup be able to introduce the strongest relationship in Barry's life ahead of his solo film? Oh, and when will that solo film actually get into production?
Patience may, ironically, be the key to unraveling the DCEU version of the fastest man alive.
- Justice League (2017) release date: Nov 17, 2017
- The Flash Movie release date: Sep 23, 2018