With the increasing influx of comic-book-oriented content released each year and the global popularity of the associated characters reaching record highs, fan service has become a huge part of the production. Whether it’s seeing multiple iconic versions of a singular character sharing the screen together or a grand final battle sequence involving a plethora of beloved characters from certain IP, fans want to see a gratifying payoff, and the studios are ever so eager to oblige. The latest DCEU release, The Flash, was long rumored to be DC’s biggest movie in terms of displaying the scope of the DC multiverse through character cameos, and in some aspects, the movie did justice to that claim. The movie was also rumored to be a soft reboot of the existing DCEU and therefore doubles down on the time travel/multiverse aspect of the narrative to showcase an unexpected change in one of the most discussed scenes, and we will discuss both aspects.
DCEU Character Cameos
Flashpoint, the comic that acts as the chief source material for The Flash, consists of a myriad of DC characters whose destinies and lives get massively changed due to Barry altering the past. Therefore, it was natural to assume that at least some, if not the entire existing DCEU character gallery, would be present during the events of the movie. According to initial plans, the Amazonian-Atlantean war of the comics counterpart was supposed to be recreated for the movie, with characters playing their alternate versions in the timeline that Barry created by tinkering with the past. However, due to the proposition of a reboot being in question as well, along with the higher cost of a prolonged appearance, the characters appear in small cameo roles.
Ben Affleck’s version of Batman, aka Bruce Wayne, was confirmed to have a role in the early bits of the movie, and it was supposed to be his last appearance as the character as well. Even in its smaller capacity, the farewell appearance of DCEU Batman turned out to be emotionally engaging, and Ben has also stated that he had the most fun playing Batman in The Flash, with him also considering that he finally found the right rhythm to play the character with this final entry. In the movie, Ben Affleck’s Batman, who was previously shown as having a mentor-like role in Barry’s life, acts as an unofficial guardian. From empathizing with the young Speedster due to the common experience of their childhood trauma to helping him out to gain evidence for his father’s acquittal and later warning about the ramifications of time-tampering, Batffleck was the most humane self in his final appearance, something that will make fans wonder about the lost potential.
Gal Gadot’s version of Diana Prince, aka Wonder Woman, makes her surprising entry during the first half of the movie, as she assists Batman and Flash in a robbery scene. While the scene acts as comedic relief due to some hilarious bouts of honesty thanks to Diana’s Lasso of Truth, she quickly takes her leave to save the world once again. This was probably the last appearance of this version of the character as well, as Gal Gadot’s statement yesterday seemingly confirmed that she is moving on from the character after the cancellation of the third Wonder Woman movie in the upcoming DC Universe helmed by James Gunn.
Larger DC Live-Action Multiverse Cameos
The Flash consisted of some pretty big cameos featuring pivotal characters from yesteryear’s DC legends, a fact that the makers tried to keep a well-guarded secret, but some of it was leaked before the release. During the climactic moments of the movie, when Barry, Alt-Barry, and Dark Flash see from the chronobowl how their actions have ruptured the fabric of reality, a glimpse of the DC multiverse is seen, where universes start collapsing onto each other due to all the Barrys’ actions.
George Reeves Superman And Teddy Sears’ Jay Garrick
The first universe we see is the one where the second-ever live-action version of Superman is shown to be present: George Reeves’ Superman. This version of the character first appeared in 1951 in the movie Superman and the Mole Men, and continued to appear through almost the entirety of the 1950s in the TV series Adventures of Superman up until the actor’s untimely death in 1959. George Reeves’ Superman garnered a massive fan following across the USA, and his role-model mannerisms were followed by numerous Superman actors who later tried to fill his shoes.
In the same universe, the original Flash, Jay Garrick, with his classic costume and Hermes-like helmet, is seen running in the Chronobowl, and this version of the character is played by Teddy Sears. In the CW’s The Flash, Teddy Sears portrayed the villainous Zoom, and to earn the trust of Team Flash, he initially appeared as an imposter version of Jay Garrick. However, this version might not be villainous, with only the War-era Speedster assisting his Justice Society compatriot. The universe is showcased in black and white, perhaps to denote the age-old legacy of the characters.
Adam West, Batman 1966
In another passing universe, we see the classic campy Batman portrayed by Adam West, famously known as Batman ’66. The legendary status of Adam West due to his hilarious but accurate portrayal of the Caped Crusader is proof enough of how influential this version was in popularizing the character throughout the world. The absolutely iconic version of Batman was the one many contemporary filmmakers and actors grew up with, and even during a few seconds worth of appearance, the return of the onomatopoeia punch panel Batman surely left a mark.
Sir Christopher Reeves’ Superman And Helen Slater’s Supergirl
Speaking of iconic roles, The Flash also introduced the definitive version of live-action Superman, the-man-the-myth-the-legend, Sir Christopher Reeves’s Superman, in all his resplendent, inspirational glory. Exactly how impactful Reeves’ Superman was to the comic-book movie genre can be asserted simply by MCU CEO Kevin Feige’s remarks about assessing every MCU movie with Reeves’ Superman (1978) as the benchmark.
Joining the greatest ever Superman is Helen Slater’s version of Supergirl, who first appeared as Kara Zor-El in Supergirl (1984). Slater’s Supergirl was canonically set in the same universe as Reeves’ during the 80s, but the earlier movies never highlighted that. With the glimpse of the multiverse shown in The Flash, the Kryptonian family finally gets reunited.
The Unmade Superman Of Nicholas Cage
The Flash multiverse sequence consists of another bizarre and surprising cameo, which is probably going to make seasoned DC fans jump out of their seats. After the massive success of director Tim Burton’s Batman duology, he was paired up with actor Nicholas Cage to create a Superman movie for the 1990s generation. Unfortunately, the movie, which sounded promising and epic on paper, got scrapped due to budget issues. However, the unmade Superman movie was finally acknowledged, as Nick Cage’s Superman is shown in a colliding universe, fighting with a giant mech spider and emerging victorious. Aside from fans, this was a dream-come-true moment for the actor as well, as Nick is a big Superman nerd, so much so that he named his son Kal El and owns Action Comics #1 as well.
Although an alternate timeline version of Batman, played by Michael Keaton from the iconic, genre-defining Batman (1989), and a new alternate timeline DCEU Supergirl played by Sasha Calle, make appearances in the movie as well, we cannot categorize them as cameos as they had more prominent roles in the movie.
Although some members of the audience have questioned the ethical aspects of the CGI versions of cameos by some of the late actors, the intention seemed to be to pay respect to the legacy of their characters. Even with them gone, the way these actors embodied the characters was inspirational for generations of artists and audiences alike, and the multiverse scene is a humble acknowledgment of that.
‘The Flash’ Batman Change Explained
After undoing his mistake of tampering with the past, Barry returns to the prime timeline and visits Bruce Wayne outside the court, only to find out that the version of Bruce he knew has been replaced, now portrayed by George Clooney instead of Ben Affleck. This switcheroo happened thanks to Barry tweaking the past in a most insignificant way still, but aside from the movie’s explanation due to the ripple effect, this has to do more with the DCEU being rebooted. Former DCEU actors like Henry Cavill have announced their retirement from the role of Superman, and it is also known that the movie will mark the final appearance of Ben Affleck’s Batman as well. The last movie of the DCEU, The Flash, cleans up the closet for the upcoming DCU to take the lead, and Clooney’s version replacing the principal DCEU Bruce is an indication of that. Although we don’t really think that for DCU, Clooney is going to portray Batman, and a new actor will most certainly be cast for the upcoming Batman: Brave and Bold, seeing him looking dapper and acing the appearance of Bruce with all the charisma, one can’t help but wonder whether the Batman and Robin star will get a shot at redemption as the Caped Crusader.