Warning: Justice League spoilers ahead! Read on at your own risk!
With the release of Zack Snyder's Justice League, DC's most iconic superhero team has finally assembled for the very first time. The film does a lot of legwork to set up the solo movies for the newest DC heroes, but few of the established plot threads have us quite as excited as the setup for The Flash: Flashpoint. It's clear that DC has big plans for Barry Allen (Ezra Miller) beyond the battle with Steppenwolf (Ciaran Hinds), so today we're going to dive in and talk about how Justice League effectively sets up The Scarlet Speedster's time-bending adventure to save his mother!
One of the first things that we learn about Barry Allen is that his father, Henry Allen (Billy Crudup), is in prison for allegedly murdering Barry's mother -- an accusation that Barry vehemently denies. This situation represents a significant part of Barry's origin story because it establishes his burning desire to see justice served as a superhero, but it's also important because it informs Barry's driving urge to get his father out of prison.
In the Flashpoint story arc, Barry's mother was murdered by his yellow-clad arch nemesis Eobard "Zoom" Thawne, and his father went to jail while a younger Barry looked on at a time-traveling speedster flying through his house. At some point during Barry's career as a speedster, he discovers his own ability to travel through time (something that we all saw him do in Batman v Superman) and saves his mother, which creates a time paradox in the form of the near-apocalyptic Flashpoint timeline.
For those of you with less knowledge of The Flash's lore, the Flashpoint timeline is an alternate Earth in which Barry's decision to save his mother causes a ripple effect through the entire DC universe. Through one selfish act, Barry creates a world in which Bruce Wayne was killed in Crime Alley, thus turning Thomas Wayne (possibly Jeffrey Dean Morgan in the film) into a murderous, gun-toting Batman. Elsewhere, Superman was found by the government instead of the Kent family and kept in prison his whole life. However, perhaps most importantly, the Flashpoint world is engulfed in chaos because of a war between Atlantis and Themyscira -- creating a ticking clock that threatens to destroy the entire planet if Barry doesn't set things right. Think Back to the Future, except with a lot more potential for death and destruction.
Don't take my word for it. Check out a quick clip from the Flashpoint Paradox animated movie to hear Eobard Thawne's explanation of how Barry's actions doom the DC universe in the Flashpoint story arc.
Although Justice League doesn't feature an actual appearance by Eobard Thawne, it sets up all of the essential emotional beats (as well as a brief explanation of the Speed Force itself) that we need for Barry to create the Flashpoint timeline. Henry Allen is apparently at the end of his rope after years in prison, and he wants to see Barry move on and shape his own future.
By the end of the film, Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) hooks Barry up with an entry-level gig in the Central City crime lab and renews The Flash's zeal to get his father out of prison. They seem poised to keep fighting the good fight, but it's also clear that Barry's obsession with proving his father's innocence is only going to become more intense.
From here, all The Flash: Flashpoint needs to do is establish that The Flash can break the space-time continuum, and introduce Eobard Thawne into the DCEU. Because of Justice League's heavy emphasis on Barry's backstory (not to mention the fact that The Flash TV series likely helped prime many audience members for the Flashpoint arc), most of the vital pieces of the puzzle have already been put in place.
Thinking more broadly, there's a strong case to be made that The Flash: Flashpoint is DC's most important film to date. Some fans have complained about certain creative decisions made in the DCEU, and adapting Flashpoint could afford Warner Bros. an opportunity to reboot and retcon the DC cinematic universe into a more comfortable creative position -- not unlike what Days of Future Past did for X-Men. We still don't know precisely what Flashpoint will look like when it hits the big screen, but Justice League did a lot of heavy-lifting to get us ready for it to finally go down.
Justice League is now in theaters; make sure to check out our in-depth review of the long-awaited DC blockbuster, and take a glance at our To 3D guide to get a better sense of which ticket you should buy! The Flash: Flashpoint does not have a set release date yet, but we will keep you up to date with any and all relevant details related to the DC project!