Ezra Miller (below left) is The Flash in DC Comics’ cinematic universe. Grant Gustin (right) is not.
Gripers (like me) gonna gripe, but grief is a process and it is time to move past the stages of Denial, Anger, Bargaining, and Depression into one of Acceptance of this tragically appalling news. After all, Miller is already neck-deep into filming 2017’s Justice League with Ben Affleck’s Batman, Henry Cavill’s Superman, Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman, and Jason Momoa’s Aquaman as forensic scientist Barry Allen-turned-fastest man alive, The Flash. He is also confirmed for 2018’s solo venture, The Flash.
We’ve all heard Zack Snyder, who directed Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and will be helming Justice League, give his decidedly canned excuse for why the insanely popular and critically acclaimed Grant Gustin wasn’t a “good fit” for The Flash of the cinematic universe he created. Basically, Gustin and his CW series about the speedster superhero were deemed too tonally light for Snyder’s depressing and ever-moody features.
The Bargaining Us would have retorted, “Have you seen Grant Gustin do dark on his show? When he cries, WE ALL CRY.” The Zen and Accepting Us spots THREE POSSIBLE- AND REASONABLE- ULTERIOR MOTIVES for why the DC and Warner Bros team made such a bizarre snub:
1. They wanted to cast a female Asian Flash without casting a female Asian Flash.
There has been a lot of retconning in both DC and Marvel comics lately to make characters non-white or a different gender or sexual orientation, with the most recent example being a black and female Iron Man:
Here’s my official stance: If your core demo wants to see a character take on a different cultural, racial or sexual identity, do it! Comics’ business model, perhaps more than any other’s, has a direct line from Consumer to Business. That relationship between comics and reader is highly personal. For that same reason, however, it is unwise to go around retooling, willy-nilly, these hyper-iconic figures just to please a small-but-vocal group of SJWs who barely read the comics. Forced progress is never any progress at all.
… Which brings us to: DC seems to have gone for a sound middle ground with the selection of Miller for the role of Barry Allen, who has always been buff, blonde, and manly in the comics.
This hilariously off-color meme sums up not just the evolution of The Flash but the overall state of comics and comics-based movies and TV shows over the past two decades:
Miller is effeminate without being female and Asiatic without being Asian (The actor’s lineage is 100% Caucasian).
DC can avoid a potentially franchise-killing controversy for casting a non-white Flash while appeasing those who have been incessantly demanding non-Caucasian males on the small and big screens. The preternaturally boyish Grant Gustin isn’t the traditional Barry Allen in terms of looks, either, but his chameleon-like acting chops won the most purist of comics fans over the moment his pilot aired.
Plus, The Flash is not He-Man; a super-fast guy should look lithe and limber, not bulky and stout.
2. DC wants indie credibility.
DC is losing big-screen dominance to Marvel Studios/Disney and part of the reason is that MARVEL KNOWS HOW TO CAST. Their secret formula? Taking actors formerly famous for only being critics’ darlings and plopping them in the middle of these epic set pieces and storylines. Miller is the perfect get if this is DC’s newfound endgame. He’s exclusively known for small, non-studio films for which he’s received mucho critical clout inhabiting these quirky, prodigiously insightful characters. Gustin has no such reputation. Before The CW’s The Flash, he was only known for being a too-cool-for-school prepster on FOX’s millennial-centric musical Glee.
3. DC is unwilling to keep track of continuity.
Marvel Studios’ motto is “It’s All Connected,” meaning that all current Marvel Studios TV, Netflix, and cinematic properties are running simultaneous storylines in the same universe (officially known as the MCU). At the same time that Loki was plowing through midtown Manhattan with an alien army in The Avengers, Matthew Murdock from Netflix’s Daredevil was already practicing his nighttime vigilantism in Hell’s Kitchen, NYC with just a bandana covering his face. The Netflix series had yet to even be developed when The Avengers was released but “The Battle of New York” is now constantly referenced as having impacted the events of Daredevil. These are just two examples. Off the top of my head, Marvel Studios has had to maintain continuity throughout all of the following shows and feature films so far:
In no particular order:
- The Avengers
- Avengers: Age of Ultron
- Captain America: The First Avenger
- Captain America: The Winter Soldier
- Captain America: Civil War
- Iron Man
- Iron Man 2
- Iron Man 3
- Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
- Agent Carter (recently cancelled)
- Jessica Jones
- Upcoming Netflix shows: Luke Cage, Iron Fist, and The Punisher
- Upcoming MCU films: Doctor Strange, Spider-Man: Homecoming, etc.
Marvel is already visibly struggling to keep all these stories synced chronologically and contextually. Casting Gustin as The Flash in the cinematic DC-verse would mean entangling every last piece of canon previously established on his show with those in past movies like Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice as well as the upcoming Suicide Squad, Justice League, and Wonder Woman.
DC don’t want none of that action. Sorry, Grant. They’re just too lazy? Who knows?
DISCLAIMER: Ezra Miller is a fine young actor. My beef isn’t that I think he’ll underperform…It’s that it was entirely unnecessary to recast the Flash when Grant Gustin’s performance has been one of the most sensational and popular in recent superhero movie/show history. You are fixing what isn’t broken and taking a risk on a new unknown variable versus hedging your bets on the likability of a familiar face.