Four years ago, Zack Snyder's 2016 DC superhero movie Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice changed superhero movies forever — for better or worse. But over the weekend, a surprisingly candid Zack Snyder hosted a live-stream commentary of the film's "Ultimate Edition" cut where he finally unpacked one of the movie's weirdest moments: Ezra Miller's surprise cameo as The Flash.
On Saturday, Zack Snyder hopped on his favorite social media platform, Vero, and hosted a three-hour live commentary of the extended version of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, the second movie in the DC franchise that starred Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Jesse Eisenberg, and Ben Affleck in his first appearance as Batman.
For three hours, Snyder revealed some insight into the making of his second DC movie, from his thoughts on killing Jimmy Olsen to some of his favorite shots in the movie. But an hour and 25 minutes into the stream, Snyder got to one of the film's most polarizing moments: Ezra Miller's cameo as Barry Allen/The Flash, who appears out of time rift to warn Batman about future events with no explanation.
The scene takes place immediately after the equally befuddling "Knightmare" sequence — where Batman sees horrifying visions of a bleak future where Superman has amassed power with Darkseid — and is never remarked upon again in the movie. Nor is it brought up in the next movie, the 2017 film Justice League.
Because of the vague, cryptic dialogue from The Flash and the lack of follow-up, Flash's cameo scene in Batman v Superman confused many DC fans. Four years later, it's still just as confusing, but Snyder did reveal some insight in his live commentary.
"This is the Flash running through time, coming back to warn Batman, y'know, not to kill Lois Lane, I guess," Snyder says. "Lois Lane is the key. I'm not exactly sure what he's supposed to do with that knowledge, at this point."
The scene, Snyder says, exists to prevent Batman from killing Lois Lane (Amy Adams). Should the love of Superman die, Superman would succumb to Darkseid, a powerful god-like being from the alien planet Apokolips. In the comics, Darkseid has the Anti-Life Equation, a formula that would lead to his reign over humanity.
Effectively, Flash's warning right after the Knightmare sequence is there to prevent the Knightmare's events from becoming real. This means that some Reddit speculation is correct — The Flash seen at that moment in the movie comes from a completely different timeline that no longer exists.
"There's this idea I had that in the future, when they're talking about sending Flash back in time to warn him, that Cyborg who's doing the calculations to send him back, would say, 'This is where—I have two possibilities of where to send Flash back in time.' The numbers point to two moments to warn you. And you really want the warning to be closer to the moment where Bruce needs the information. If it's right near the moment where this event might happen where Lois might get killed or Bruce isn't able to stop it, or however that's happening, it would be important if Flash came closer to that moment so Bruce would understand the reality of it."
So, according to Snyder, in this future, Batman has allied with The Flash and Cyborg and is working to undo his greatest mistake, which is killing Lois Lane (Yikes!). Cyborg presents two entry points for Flash to come to Bruce, and Bruce chooses the moment when the past version of himself is decrypting files and falls asleep.
Even with this new explanation, however, Flash's cameo in Batman v Superman still isn't that much clearer, and it's a bit out of place. It's a weird thing that happens and no one talks about ever again, like the creepy tunnel in Willy Wonka.
Apparently, there is a deleted scene in Justice League that would have explained it all. While Zack Snyder's infamous "Snyder Cut" of Justice League could put all questions involving the "Future Flash" and the Knightmare timeline to bed, that cut of Justice League is not available to watch anywhere. And despite Snyder's own efforts, Warner Bros. is unlikely to ever release the movie, even on VOD or streaming.
Personally, I always thought the scene with The Flash was a case of a misunderstood message, especially the part where he tells Bruce Wayne that "You were right about him." Given that Batman anticipates a bleak future with Superman, the scene acts as a catalyst for Batman to spring into action and fight the Man of Steel. Batman thinks that The Flash is saying "You were right" about Superman (which is why Bruce Wayne upgrades his gear with Kryptonite grenades and does a lot of CrossFit). But I always thought that Bruce was mistaken and that there was someone else that he was right about. (Maybe Lex Luthor?)
Furthermore, The Flash's "Am I too soon?" also suggests that The Flash arrived "too soon" for his message to be understood, thus The Flash creates a conflict between Batman and Superman that doesn't need to happen.
That's how the scene seems to function in both the theatrical and "Ultimate Edition" of Dawn of Justice. I was always holding out hope that Justice League would provide some much-needed answers, because The Flash's dialogue was maddeningly vague and cryptic in a way that Zack Snyder can't get enough of in his superhero movies.
In the end, though, we never learned anything. The scene continues to exist as a bizarre anomaly, a tiny window into a completely different timeline that no one in the movie (nor anyone watching the movie) will ever get to see. Perhaps we really do need the Snyder Cut for more answers.