Despite a pandemic, the DC superhero movie The Flash seems determined to race into theaters in 2022. Now, the latest casting rumor suggests it may be the most important movie in the DC franchise and an opportunity for the DC Extended Universe's wonky continuity to finally make sense.
And it all has to do with one rumored character.
What Happened? — On Saturday, The Cinema Spot reported that actor Jeffrey Dean Morgan may reprise his role as Thomas Wayne from the 2016 DC movie Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice for the 2022 movie The Flash. The Cinema Spot reports that Morgan is only "circling" the role and that formal talks had not yet begun.
Why this matters — Besides Jeffrey Dean Morgan being the physical embodiment for Thomas Wayne who was unable to show his range due to his brevity in Dawn of Justice, Batman's dad being in a Flash movie means it's taking cues from a very important comic book: the 2011 DC crossover series Flashpoint. And if that's true, it could mean some big changes to the DCEU are on the horizon.
Back in the fall of 2011, DC Comics kicked off a new, rebooted continuity in a publishing initiative called the "New 52." But in the lead-up to that relaunch, DC spent the summer publishing Flashpoint, a crossover series that has Barry Allen (aka, The Flash) explore an alternate dystopian timeline.
Most of the plot concerns The Flash going back in time to stop the murder of his mother by his nemesis, the Reverse-Flash. But in doing so, Barry creates an alternate DC Universe — one where Superman never landed in Kansas, where Aquaman wages war with Wonder Woman, and where young Bruce Wayne was killed instead of his parents. Because Bruce is dead, his father becomes a gun-toting Batman while his mother, hysterical with grief, becomes the Joker.
By the end of the story, three separate universes in the multiverse have merged into one, and ten years have been lost in the primary DC Universe. Thus, a completely new DC Universe was created in its aftermath. The story has been adapted before, in the 2013 direct-to-video animated film Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox and in the third season of The Flash on The CW.
Meet the Flashpoint Batman — Nicknamed "Flashpoint Batman" by fans, Thomas Wayne as Batman differs from the more familiar Bruce Wayne version in several ways. Similarly driven by vengeance, Thomas is more violent and ruthless than his son and isn't above drinking while on the job. More important, Thomas uses guns, which his son Bruce refuses to do.
Thomas Wayne's Batman has made major appearances mostly in Flash-related stories, such as Flashpoint and in the 2017 DC story arc "The Button" told in issues of Batman and The Flash. The association is so strongly connected to The Flash that his inclusion in a Flash movie means it's likely to have elements from Flashpoint.
Is it true? — Right now, The Flash casting Morgan as Thomas Wayne/Batman is only just a rumor, one that has floated around the internet before. Back in 2018, TheWrap reporter Umberto Gonzalez seemed to confirm that Morgan was officially out of the role by tweeting a photoshopped image of Jeffrey Dean Morgan in the Flashpoint Batman costume being "dusted" like the ending of Avengers: Infinity War. But that was two long years ago, and it's possible the direction of the DCEU has changed behind the scenes.
The Inverse Analysis — While it's exciting to imagine a capable actor like Jeffrey Dean Morgan as a violent Batman (one need only look at his Negan in The Walking Dead to see how great he would be), it's more exciting to think how a Flash movie may reset the DCEU.
I've proposed this idea myself way back in 2017. Flashpoint is a convenient out to organize the messy DCEU, which has already recast its Batman and is rebooting the Suicide Squad. A Flashpoint-inspired storyline could definitively set the pieces that DC and Warner Bros. wants to keep and toss away what hasn't worked — or conveniently ignore why Robert Pattinson looks nothing like Ben Affleck.
The Flash will be released in theaters on June 2, 2022.