If there’s one thing that Zack Snyder fans know about the longtime director, it’s that he’s a fan of slo-mo scenes in movies ranging from 300 to HBO Max’s recent Justice League cut. A lot of the DC heroes in the new movie get their own big slo-mo moments, but for one hero, The Flash, it’s arguably the most important. The way Barry Allen is shot is a note that The Flash solo movie definitely needs to take from Snyder as his vision for the DC world wraps.
Some spoilers are coming, obviously. So if you haven’t caught the 4-hour HBO Max extravaganza, don’t say we didn't warn you.
How Iris West And A Hotdog Really Showed What Barry Allen Can Do
Early on in Zack Snyder’s Justice League, we see Barry Allen applying for a job at a pet daycare. Out of the corner of his eye he sees a young woman getting in a pretty brutal car wreck and he decides to save the day. The entire car accident happens from Barry’s viewpoint in slow motion, as he lovingly shifts Iris away from disaster and grabs a hotdog -- aka a doggy meat snack -- in the process.
It’s riveting. I don’t even have any emotional engagement with this Iris West/Barry Allen plotline and I found the slo-mo to be far more captivating than just Barry quickly trying to save that Russian family Joss Whedon inserted in the theatrical cut. That’s a move Zack Snyder already said he didn’t love, noting “it goes against physics to be able to have…if you grab someone, and you can say they’re protected by the Speed Force, but that’s, you know, up to interpretation.” If Barry is going to shift things in the speed force, they are gentle movements, taps etc. Or as Snyder put it, Barry’s got to be “super careful.”
Barry Allen is shot this way over and over throughout Zack Snyder’s Justice League and while slow motion is a favorite for the director, the rules created for Barry Allen in the Speed Force really, really work in the final cut. I’m also just super impressed with how stylish it all looks (as someone who has watched a lot of slo-mo on the CW’s The Flash).
Other DC Movies Like Aquaman Have Already Set A Precedent For Doing Their Own Thing
You may be thinking, “Of course, The Flash solo movie will feature slo-mo,” and you’re probably right. But specifically the way Zack Snyder does it in HBO Max’s new cut is what is working for me. The reason I feel the need to point this out is because of Aquaman specifically.
In Aquaman, of course, Mera and Arthur Curry have to communicate underwater. The way Zack Snyder envisions this is through complex water bubbles created to give the people of Atlantis bubbles of oxygen to speak English in. In James Wan’s Aquaman it was easier -- and doubtless cheaper -- to just have the actors talk underwater. Does it look as cool? No. Is it less complicated? Yes.
DC movies have made a point to be standalones and have their own interpretations of heroes and heroines like Arthur Curry and Diana Prince, but if something is working, it’s not a bad idea to keep it in the mix as Ezra Miller continues playing the iconic character.
How Zack Snyder Pulled Off His Slo-Mo Shots, According To Ben Affleck
If you want to know how those Barry Allen shots are pulled off in Zack Snyder’s Justice League, you can go ahead and thank Ben Affleck. Affleck’s a director himself, and was super interested in the way The Flash scenes were shot for the DC movie, including the big moment where Batman throws a batarang at Flash. He explained how the scenes were shot to Fox 5's Kevin McCarthy back before the initial release in 2017, noting:
We brought in for that day, special cameras that shot at a high frame rate. So that, you know, I just threw [the batarang] at full speed and you can slow way down. And then you can shoot Ezra at a slightly different from rate, so that it looks a little bit slow but also that he’s moving faster than I am.
Ben Affleck went on to explain that even though it seems like Batman is in the same shot as The Flash, it’s not quite in the same frame, so it’s easy to make it look as if he is slow and The Flash is fast. In the same video, Cyborg actor Ray Fisher also mentions that the VFX team “worked out the physics of the speed force” and really helped them to get the critical slowed down shots to look good.
To be clear, I’m not necessarily arguing for more slo-mo from The Flash movie or that Zack Snyder’s use of slo-mo works every. single. time it appears in Justice League. But I do think that Warner Bros. and DC’s push for each of these movies to be its own thing rather than in continuity with one another means that some cool stuff does occasionally get lost in the process. The rules with the speed force could change as Barry Allen sets off on his next adventure. I don’t really want to see that, as it works so charmingly in Zack Snyder’s Justice League and gives Barry Allen more major hero moments within the gang.