The Flash might not be the last movie in the DC Extended Universe, but it’s arguably the most important one since Man of Steel. A culmination of all the DCEU movies over the last decade, The Flash is a time-skipping adventure caused by Barry Allen (Ezra Miller) messing with the past. When he does, he changes history itself, including some of the DCEU’s most pivotal moments. Which means you have to remember what those pivotal DCEU moments were.
If you haven’t revisited Man of Steel, Batman v Superman, or Justice League lately, we have a little refresher for you. Here are the six things to remember before seeing The Flash.
6. Michael Keaton’s Batman Wants to Get Nuts
“You want to get nuts? Let’s get nuts.”
The line that’s been repeated throughout all the marketing for The Flash isn’t that important, but the movie it’s calling back to is. 1989’s Batman starred Michael Keaton as the Caped Crusader, and introduced audiences to a darker, more gothic take on the superhero. Its even darker sequel, Batman Returns, remains one of the best Batman movies ever. So it’s a big deal to see Keaton put on the cape and cowl again to play the Batman who appears in the alternate timeline Barry accidentally creates.
This isn’t the Batman you remember. He’s older, grayer, and living in a Gotham that’s moved past its need for masked vigilantes. But this is the only Batman Barry can turn to, which makes him an essential team member in The Flash; and makes the 1989 Batman an essential movie to rewatch.
5. How Barry Allen and Bruce Wayne First Met
In Justice League, Bruce Wayne and Diana Prince assemble a team of metahumans to help fight the invading Steppenwolf and his legions of Parademons. Bruce’s first and most enthusiastic recruit is Barry Allen, a speedster who, by his own admission, “needs friends.” Despite a rocky start to their relationship (Bruce broke into Barry’s DIY lair, before throwing a Batarang at Barry’s face with no warning), Barry latches onto the billionaire vigilante. By the time The Flash rolls around, he insists Bruce is his “best friend.” Knowing Bruce, that’s probably not far off.
4. Barry’s Dad is in Prison
Justice League also gave us some insight into Barry’s family life in a short scene where Barry visits his dad Henry Allen (played in the 2017 film by Billy Crudup) in prison. The crime his father was convicted of is not named, but Barry insists the “investigation was botched.” Henry encourages Barry to use his brilliant mind to pursue something other than this lost cause, but Barry won’t quit trying to clear his dad’s name, a narrative that picks up in a big way in The Flash.
3. The Justice League Was Formed
At the end of Justice League, the team decides to finally be, well, a team. Diana steps back into the public spotlight as Wonder Woman, Victor Stone continues to enhance his abilities as Cyborg with his father at S.T.A.R. Labs, Arthur returns to protecting the high seas, Superman goes back to leading his double life as Clark Kent and Earth’s protector, and Batman turns his Batcave into the Justice League’s base of operations.
But most importantly, Barry makes his dad proud by getting a job at Central City’s police department. By the time The Flash begins, Barry is working hard to balance his job as a forensic scientist alongside his Justice League duties.
2. Superman’s Origin
It’s time to go back even further than Justice League, to the movie that started the DCEU: Man of Steel. Most people probably know Superman’s origin story by pop culture osmosis — a pod carrying baby Kal-El crash-lands on Earth after the destruction of Krypton, Martha and Jonathan Kent adopt him, he grows up with superpowers he must use for the greater good.
But Man of Steel made a few adjustments. Clark Kent is a bit disillusioned with the world after his dad dies to keep his secret, and has barely started his career as Superman before Earth’s greatest threat arrives in the form of Zod. Despite his malaise, Superman proves he’s exactly the hero Earth needs.
1. What Zod Was Up to in Man of Steel
The villain of Man of Steel returns with a vengeance in The Flash. No, he’s not back from the dead; blame the multiverse. In the original Man of Steel timeline, Zod arrives on Earth to turn it into a New Krypton with several terraforming devices salvaged from Kryptonian outposts. But the only way to activate these devices is with Superman’s DNA.
In The Flash, Barry finds himself trapped in a past where the events of Man of Steel play out without Superman. Zod’s plan to terraform the Earth takes a different direction, but one that’s potentially just as catastrophic. To say more would be to spoil The Flash, but make sure you remember what Zod’s deal is when you head into theaters.