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Warner Bros. reportedly can't slow 'The Flash' down, despite Ezra Miller's legal distractions
It looks like The Fastest Man Alive will keep running no matter what.
The Flash, Warner Bros.' upcoming superhero film starring Ezra Miller as the title character, has been in development for roughly a decade. The film emerged at around the same time Zack Snyder was preparing Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (which introduced Miller's Flash in a cameo role) and has since gone through a wide array of writing, directing, and release date changes, all while retaining Miller in the central role as Barry Allen.
Now, with a little more than a year to go until it crosses the finish line, The Flash's star is at the center of its major dilemma. Miller, who also co-stars in Warners' Fantastic Beasts franchise and has appeared in DC Comics films like Justice League and Suicide Squad, is coming off a pair of recent arrests in Hawaii for alleged assault, harassment, and disorderly conduct that also included a local couple taking out (and later dropping) a restraining order against the actor. It's not Miller's first brush with troubling public behavior -- they were caught on camera choking a woman in Iceland in 2020 -- but it has cast a fresh shadow over The Flash, and left Warner Bros. with a major problem on its hands.
Back in March, studio executives reportedly met in light of Miller's recent arrests to try and come up with solutions for dealing with the star, drawing the conclusion that it might be time to pause all future projects with Miller for the time being. But despite its 2023 release date, "future projects" doesn't necessarily apply to The Flash. The film, directed by IT's Andy Muschietti from a script by Christina Hodson (Birds of Prey) and co-starring dueling Batmans Michael Keaton and Ben Affleck, has already completed principal photography and is speeding toward its release date. According to Variety, because Miller is the principal star, it would be both prohibitively expensive and logistically almost impossible to reshoot the entire film with another actor in the role. So, despite some fan calls for The Flash TV star Grant Gustin to step in as the big screen Barry Allen, that doesn't seem like a tenable path forward at this point.
That leaves Warner Bros. with an interesting set of options. The studio could opt to forego a theatrical release for the film and shift it to streaming on HBO Max, but according to Variety's sources, that seems unlikely. The Flash is an expensive film, theaters are no longer operating under the cloud of pandemic closures, and this is meant to be DC's big multiverse-hopping event movie in the vein of Spider-Man: No Way Home. It's seen as not just a likely box office hit in and of itself, but a launching pad for a different kind of DC Comics movie that could have major implications for the future of DC properties at the studio for years to come.
So, what's the studio going to do? The likeliest option at this point seems to be that The Flash will be released theatrically as planned, and Miller, unless something changes, will take a backseat on any promotional appearances for the film. The feeling, according to Variety, is that Miller is not the key selling point of the film, that it's more about the character than the actor, and that a press tour led by Affleck, Keaton, and incoming Supergirl Sasha Calle could be just as successful.
But it's important to remember that, for the moment, key elements of these decisions are still unknown. Warner Bros. went through yet another leadership shakeup just days ago, with Michael De Luca and Pamela Abdy stepping in to replace outgoing Warner Bros. Motion Picture Group head Toby Emmerich. They've now inherited some of the burden of The Flash dilemma, and it'll be interesting to see what path they choose.
Right now, at least, The Flash is still on track to race into theaters June 23, 2023.
If you're looking for more twisty, mysterious sci-fi flicks in the meantime, Jordan Peele's sci-fi horror film Nope opens July 22, only in theaters.