In the early days of what was once known as the DC Extended Universe, there were a lot of plans for projects that would stem from the story that was forming in Zack Snyder’s Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. As the obvious endgame of a once two-part Justice League film loomed on the horizon, another planned component to this new universe of filmmaking was a movie centered around the misadventures of Barry Allen, better known to the world as The Flash.
With Ezra Miller cast in the role, and the seeds being sewn in a Dawn of Justice cameo exploring the future of the DCEU and also in a quick cameo in Suicide Squad, a plan was in motion to get that movie into theaters for 2018. Unfortunately, in the five years since that initial plan was hatched, delays have plagued The Flash-oriented solo film; mostly due to the fact The Flash’s director’s chair is about as popular as the plague.
Though the project seems to be in stable hands at the moment, with a new director recently being announced in IT’s Andy Muschietti, looking back on the history of The Flash’s rather eventful development seems like a good reminder that while the film might be on firm footing now, a lot could change, fittingly, in a flash.
The Flash On The Starting Line Of The DCEU (2014)
Late in 2014, a little over a year after director Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel forged a path for the future of DC Comics’ theatrical enterprises, a slate of films that were to be their first wave of box office bonanzas was announced. During an investor’s call, that blueprint was dropped, starting with Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice being set for release in 2016.
Also in the mix were solo films, such as Wonder Woman, and other team-up films like Suicide Squad. The most ambitious part of this schedule was to take place between 2017 and 2019, as Justice League Part 1 and 2 were to be bookends to three solo films: The Flash, Aquaman and Shazam. The year 2018 was supposed to be the home for The Flash and Aquaman, with Shazam leading up to Justice League Part 2’s release that summer.
Of the ambitious plans that DC Comics and Warner Bros. originally had for that DCEU schedule, all but two films would be released: The Flash and Justice League Part 2. With all of the turmoil this first wave put the studios through, these two projects ultimately became casualties of fate. Though the former project more fell by the wayside, thanks to the problems it had with securing a director.
The Flash, As Directed By Seth Grahame-Smith (October 2015 – April 2016)
Believe it or not, it was initially rumored that Phil Lord and Chris Miller were being pursued to become the directors for The Flash, and their names would surface again in the now future past of the project’s life span. But when it comes to who actually took the chair first by signing on the dotted line, it was without question writer/director Seth Grahame-Smith.
Hired in October 2015, Grahame-Smith was supposed to work off of a Phil Lord & Chris Miller treatment to turn The Flash into his directing debut, keeping the project on track for its 2018 debut. Alas, it was mere months before Seth Grahame-Smith left the project in early 2016, citing that famous and most repeated reasons for departing: “creative differences." Get used to that story, as it pervades much of the events that will follow.
Rick Famuyiwa’s Dope Adventure With The Flash (June 2016 - October 2016)
The Flash would bounce back pretty quickly after drafting a new director to sit in the chair vacated by Seth Grahame-Smith, as Dope director Rick Famuyiwa would settle into the duties. Even better, it looked like Famuyiwa would be the one to bring this project to the end goal, as he actually cast two important characters for his Flash film that would set the stage for their characters in Zack Snyder’s Justice League.
With Kiersey Clemmons starring as Iris West and Billy Crudup as Henry Allen, both actors filmed their roles for Snyder’s 2017 centerpiece film to the DCEU. Here’s where the wheels come off yet again, as Clemmons was eventually deleted from Justice League’s final product, and Rick Famuyiwa would leave the project after only months of work. It should also be noted that not only did the director lend his re-writing skills to The Flash’s script, but King Arthur: Legend of the Sword writer Joby Harold also took a go.
John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein’s Homecoming With The Flash (March 2018 – July 2019)
Between Rick Famuyiwa’s departure, and the next directors hired onto The Flash’s long and winding road of delays, a lot of names popped up in the offing. After Robert Zemeckis, Matthew Vaughn, Sam Raimi, and Marc Webb had all fallen off the radar for directing duties to The Flash movie, the team of John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein was eventually hired. Considering they’d had a comic hit as writers who were part of the team that made Spider-Man: Homecoming such a hit, this seemed like a good sign.
Of course, with a film that has often felt as cursed as The Flash has, there were premature rumors that John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein had jumped ship. For the time, that was proven to had been false, and the project was even moving away from being a straight-up Flashpoint adaptation, as it was originally intended through the various story strands that were set up in the DCEU at the time. This most recent hiring really did feel like it had stuck the landing, that is until some surprising news in early July 2019 changed it all.
For Andy Muschietti, The Flash Is It (Now)
Out of nowhere, an announcement came stating that IT director Andy Muschietti was the new man to take The Flash into the future. With the film now slated for a 2021 release, Muschietti’s duties will come hot on the heels of his work on IT: Chapter Two, and more than likely preempt his work on anime adaptations such as Attack On Titan and Robotech.
Though that’s not to say the horror mastermind is jumping into The Flash ASAP. Andy Muschietti has gone on record stating that he’s going to take a couple of months to break and recharge his batteries, before getting to work on the DCEU solo flick. While this does sound reasonable, wary fans of the Scarlet Speedster are undoubtedly going to be holding their breath until production is officially announced on The Flash’s solo movie. As evidenced above, anything can happen in the span of a couple of months.
In a history of blown start dates, tons of star power being attracted to the director’s chair, and even a failed re-hiring of Ben Affleck taking place in the search for a helmer to get The Flash going, it always feels like there’s something around the corner that’ll set the film back even more. As 2018 and 2020 release dates went out the window, 2021 is the current year we just might see Barry Allen ride again.
However, should something else happen to derail this once promising prospect of the DCEU, we’ll probably be adding a chapter into this horrid history’s contents to reflect any changes that happen between now and then. For now, let’s just cross our fingers and hope that Ezra Miller, in his capacity as star and now maybe even screenwriter for The Flash, doesn’t have to use the Speed Force to get this project back on track.