Comics on Film: Why the Big Name Directors Up for 'The Flash' Could Make Fans Nervous

Comics on Film: Why the Big Name Directors Up for 'The Flash' Could Make Fans Nervous

May 19, 2017

Out of all of the forthcoming projects that we know about taking place in Warner Bros. Pictures' burgeoning cinematic universe based on the characters of DC Comics, the one that seems like it's in the largest state of flux is The Flash. Though the character has been successfully running across television for the last couple of years, his film adaptation starring Ezra Miller seems like it's been having a lot of trouble getting its stance at the starting line, to say nothing of the fact that its proposed 2018 release window is quickly fading.

While it looked as though Rick Famuyiwa, critically-acclaimed director of Dope, would be taking up the reigns, "creative differences" once again struck the DC Extended Universe last fall, with the talented helmer passing on the project after fashioning his own screenplay to work from. Famuyiwa also enthusiastically posted on social media about taking the project up, including snapping pictures of "research materials" he acquired in the form of toys, baubles, and of course, comics.
 
With the exit of Famuyiwa, the project seemed like it was in serious jeopardy of falling by the wayside until very recently: it's been revealed that the very alive film has now narrowed a shortlist of directors down to three very recognizable names: Matthew Vaughn (X-Men: First Class, the Kingsman films), Sam Raimi (Evil DeadSpider-Man 1-3) and Robert Zemeckis (Back to the Future 1-3, Cast Away).
 
All are talented, worthy directors to be sure. Nevertheless, here's why these names make us a little nervous.
 
 
No Disputing Their Immense Talent

All three of these names inspire a significant amount of confidence in the mere fact that they know how to get things done. No stranger to visually impressive storytelling, Zemeckis has carved quite a name for himself over the course of his storied career as both an Oscar-worthy director, taking the "Best Director" prize for 1994's Forrest Gump, while also drawing significant critical attention for his 2000 collaboration with Tom Hanks, Cast Away. He doesn't shy away from CGI storytelling either, having directed sophisticated animated efforts in the forms of The Polar ExpressBeowulf, and A Christmas Carol, saying nothing of the sheer inventiveness of his work in Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, the quirky comedy Death Becomes Her and, of course, the Back to the Future trilogy.
 
It's also hard to deny the on-paper attractiveness of Sam Raimi. On top of his name-making turns as the director and creative mind behind the original Evil Dead films, Raimi's childhood with Spider-Man painted on his wall largely resulted in the climate we now recognize today for superhero films as, almost universally, huge blockbuster tentpole releases. Raimi was the first modern director who really made a truthful comics adaptation, forgoing trends of the early 2000's for placing heroes in black leather, and instead giving Tobey Maguire's Spider-Man an almost perfect recreation of his classic costume designed by artist Steve Ditko. Raimi making any DC film would be a huge coup, but there's also no real guarantee that his attitude towards Barry Allen will come anywhere near his blatant admiration for Peter Parker.
 
(UPDATE: Per EW, recent indications suggest that Raimi is no longer in the running.)
 
The final name, Matthew Vaughn, is no stranger to comic book films. In addition to two Kingsman films under his belt with the second releasing later this year, Vaughn is largely credited with reviving the X-Men franchise with 2011's First Class, while also likely paving the way for last year's Deadpool with his 2010 adaptation of Mark Millar and John Romita, Jr.'s Kick-Ass. When interviewing Vaughn for Kick-Ass myself back in 2009, I asked him about other comic book properties he was interested in, and the director answered almost instantly: "Superman." That at least shows some kind of an affinity for DC characters, but his attitudes about the Flash himself aren't highly known.
 
 
The Flash Needs Someone With Vision and Love

Speaking personally, one thing that became clear when I worked as a comic book retailer was how quickly and heavily readers would attach to the Flash, even if they only just began to read his adventures. It didn't matter which Flash it was, either, since Jay Garrick, Barry Allen, Wally West or Bart Allen seemed to inspire a heavy devotion just by nature of the kinds of Flash stories that DC has the ability to tell in his world. While it's impossible to dispute the sheer talent that all three of these filmmakers have, what Flash fans the world over should continually hope for is that one of these guys ends up truly loving and appreciating the character that they will soon be given access to, especially as perhaps the most visible and influential custodian of his legacy going forward.
 
Now that we're mere days away from Wonder Woman hitting theaters, the one DC Comics character without a major film adaptation that is simply baffling is, unequivocally, The Flash. His legacy of importance to the DC Comics Universe and to superhero stories at-large simply cannot be understated, and taking that legacy and placing it into a big budget, high-profile motion picture is not a responsibility to be taken lightly by either the studio, or the directors that are under consideration.
 
Now, of course, Comics on Film here at Movies.com is written by, first and foremost, a fan of the character. The perspective here is most definitely colored by preconceived notions about who the Flash is, and what's made him such an enduring (and endearing) part of DC Comics' long, pioneering legacy in the realm of superheroes. At the end of the day, though, the character – and the DC Extended Universe at-large – needs someone who won't just punch a clock, do some solid but perhaps formulaic work, and cash a check. The Flash is a character that has all the makings of a true superheroic movie star built-in, ready to flourish even more than he already has beyond the bonds of comics or television.

With the undenaible vision these filmmakers can bring to the table, coupled with, hopefully, a real love for who Barry Allen is and how vibrantly populated his world is, it can definitely lead from the starting line to a burst of speed and a crimson blur brilliantly crossing the finish line. Good luck, gentlemen. You've got a chance to take on an absolutely wonderful character, and that's a Flash Fact.

Chris Clow is a comic book expert and former retailer, and a writer with work having appeared in the Huffington Post, Fandango, and various fan outlets. He's also a regular on podcasts hosted by Batman-On-Film and Modern Myth Media, while hosting his own show called Comics on Consoles. You can find his weekly Comics on Film column every week here at Movies.com, and you can follow along on Twitter @ChrisClow.

 

 

 

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