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The Flash: Time Traveling with Heart and Tears

by Neil Bui

The Flash may be the remains of what could have been with Zach Snyder’s DC Extended Universe, but as a standalone film it does an amazing job at casting the spotlight on Barry Allen. The film really captures that feeling of wanting to deal with something so traumatic and impactful from your childhood, that you would defy the very laws of reality in order to reverse it, in hopes of creating a better, new life for yourself and your loved ones, which in essence is the driving force for the situations Barry puts himself in for this story.

Now, the Barry Allen origin story has two main parts: first, Barry’s life is forever changed when his mother is murdered and his father is sentenced to prison after being wrongfully named as the perpetrator, an event that leads Barry down a path in forensic science in hopes of freeing his father one day; second, one night while working in the lab, a sudden bolt of lightning strikes, splashing a concoction of chemicals onto Barry which gives him his superspeed powers.

The film is more based on 2011’s Flashpoint storyline in the comics, then any specific origin story of recent memory. However, the major points of the origin story are sufficiently told throughout the beginning of the film, allowing for audiences to jump into this film without much context prior. I was fortunate to be invited to see an early cut of the film the day before CinemaCon and watching it again in its released state still left an emotional impact on me. Although that might have been because I attended alone during this recent viewing which allowed for my private shedding of tears in public this time around.

In hopes of trying to communicate why this film got to me so well, I want to highlight that there’s just something extremely familiar and relatable about wanting to not only be a superhero, but striving to be the hero you desperately wanted to save you when you were younger. And while this is apparent with superheroes like Batman rescuing kids from becoming orphans and Superman saving our planet because he’s already lost his native world, Barry Allen accomplishes this in a very literal way. He runs back in time to save his own family from being broken, ultimately saving himself from a lifetime of grief and trauma. But the film is also about Barry learning to accept the things that cannot be changed, which in part is the takeaway that moviegoers (myself included) would most benefit from in our real lives.

While the film has received a lot of attention for bringing Michael Keaton back into the role of Bruce Wayne/Batman and introducing Sasha Calle as Superman’s cousin Kara, the film is still very much rooted in being the necessary character arc Barry needs to undergo in order to overcome his unresolved traumas. Controversies aside, Ezra Miller succeeded in playing two versions of his character from two different timelines brought together by his present day self changing his childhood past and ending up during the events of Man of Steel which coincides with when he received his powers.

As a superhero movie, The Flash delivers on stories and characters. The visual effects were enjoyable from my perspective, but I would understand any other moviegoer’s CGI fatigue at this point in the year. Catch The Flash in theaters now!

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