As repeated numerous times, the importance of the source material is immense when it comes to comic-book-oriented adaptations, especially at a time when creators are getting sidelined by big studios and corporate giants despite their works being responsible for the multimillion-dollar adaptations in the first place. Most of the time, the makers of these adaptations take artistic liberties and interpret the narrative in their own ways, which very seldom surpasses the source. The recently released DCEU flick The Flash draws heavily from the seminal story Flashpoint, written and drawn by Geoff Johns and Andy Kubert, a story that had an unprecedented effect on DC universe’s continuity. Although the movie extensively deals with the source’s time-travel narrative, alternate timelines, and multiverse-related themes, there are some crucial changes that give it a distinctiveness of its own. We will discuss a major portion of the similarities and differences between the source and the adaptation and also explore the possible route that can be taken if a sequel is eventually made.
Similarity: Barry And Bruce’s Bond
A vital thing the DCEU continuity was allowed to appropriately adapt from its comics counterpart is the relationship between two fellow Justice League members, Bruce and Barry. In comics, they share a friendly relationship, as both of them have an investigative perspective and share a common experience of grief over losing their parents. In DCEU, since the day Barry was recruited by Bruce in Justice League, a mentor-student relationship was initiated between the two, which gradually progressed to one of mutual understanding, respect, and trust. Bruce took it upon himself to let Barry have his ambition of enrolling in Central City PD fulfilled, later gifted him a brand new super-suit, and helped secure proper evidence to support Barry’s wrongly convicted father’s alibi. In a sense, in the DCEU, Bruce is Barry’s closest friend and unofficial guardian.
Difference: Absence Of Reverse Flash
One of the major changes the movie underwent was the exclusion of Reverse Flash from the narrative in its entirety, despite the character being instrumental in not only the Flashpoint series but in Barry’s origin as well. The evil Speedster/scientist Eobard Thawne, aka Reverse Flash, who is the sworn nemesis of the Flash, tried to remove him from existence by traveling back to the past. But finding only his mother, Nora Allen, to be present, Eobard murders her, which sets Barry on a course that will lead him to be a forensic scientist and, later, Flash. In the “Flashpoint” storyline, Barry goes back in time and stops Eobard, an event that leads to disastrous consequences in the future due to the temporal butterfly effect.
In the movie, however, the character has been totally omitted, as viewers never get to know the identity of the assailant who killed Barry’s mother. Perhaps it was done to avoid the confusion that might arise by introducing a significant character like Reverse Flash right when the DCEU is getting rebooted. Even though director Andres Muschietti has confirmed that in DCEU canon, Reverse Flash was indeed the culprit behind the murder of Nora,
Although the character is not present in a direct sense, the director used a nifty Easter egg as a nod to his presence, something that keen-eyed fans will surely catch on the first watch. A passer-by played by actor Nikolaj Coster-Waldau can be seen in the alternate timeline where alt-Barry runs through Central City after getting powers. The actor was previously rumored to be playing the character of Reverse Flash in the DCEU, and a few days ago, he also appeared in the movie screening as well, further solidifying the suspicion. The movie has left the identity of the killer as a mystery, and perhaps we will see the Man in Yellow in all his glory if a sequel eventually gets made.
Difference: The Expanded DC Universe Doesn’t Get Involved In The Movie
In the Flashpoint storyline, Barry’s tampering with the timestream resulted in an alternate timeline being created where a devastating war broke out among Amazonians led by Diana, aka Wonder Woman, and Atlanteans led by Arthur, aka Aquaman. Almost the entire DC character gallery, groups, and even the “Wildstorm” imprint characters like Drifter were involved in the war in some way, siding with either side or trying to stop the war before it led to the extinction of humanity.
On the contrary, the movie adaptation of the story doesn’t get to be as grand or expansive in scope as the comics one was; even the major DCEU characters aren’t shown through the course of the movie, and it is understandable why. With the DCEU being rebooted and a number of actors already being recast for James Gunn’s upcoming DCU, bringing them back for this movie would have been a pretty costly affair, to begin with. In the movie version, the Atlantean-Amazonian war has been replaced with a recreation of the Black Zero event—the invasion of General Zod’s Kryptonian army on Earth.
Similarity: Barry Gets Help From A Kryptonian And An Alternate Batman
Despite not being able to pull all the main players of the DCEU together, one major aspect of “Flashpoint” was recreated properly, which is Barry getting help from an alternate version of Batman played by Michael Keaton and a Kryptonian in the form of Kara Zor-El. In the comics, in the alternate timeline, Barry met a gruff, jaded version of Batman who turned out to be Thomas Wayne and took his help to release a captive, skeletal Kal-El who had been held by the military since his arrival. The duo assisted Barry in neutralizing the war, albeit without receiving the intended effects. Similarly, Michael Keaton’s elder Batman in this version helps Barry break Kara Zor-El out from a Russian mercenary black site, and later the duo helps Barry in his battle against Zod.
Difference: A Flash Of Two Worlds
Another significant change that The Flash adapted was radically different from Flashpoint is the appearance of an alternate timeline version of Barry. In the comics, after altering the past, Barry was stuck in the Flashpoint timeline without powers, and no past version existed with him. In the movie, however, the time-travel plot is explained differently, which results in both Barry and his alternate version existing simultaneously, and during the climactic battle, both Barrys or should we say both Flashes (Barry recreated his accident to let alt Barry gain powers), join Kara and Bruce in battle against Zod. This pivotal change came as a fresh take on the comic storyline, as through the alt version of Barry, viewers get to know how the cost of sacrifice, sense of responsibility, and childhood trauma have changed the prime version of Barry, which Barry is oblivious to as he tries to rewrite the past over and over, oblivious to the vicious temporal changes it can cause by tampering with the fabric of reality.
Similarity: The Core Of The Story Is Intact
Despite a number of alterations, the makers did a good job by keeping the core of Flashpoint intact in terms of motivation, causality, and resolution. Barry goes back in time to save his mother, learns that this action of his has created a doomed timeline that must be undone, rectifies his mistakes, and learns to make amends with his turbulent past. This basic yet emotionally impactful storyline of “Flashpoint” was duly respected in the movie through the character relationships, actions, and narrative structure. Instead of multiverse shenanigans, that’s what makes the movie memorable.
Difference: Barry The Messenger
Another major aspect the movie skipped, due to the changes in narrative choices, is the final emotional beat shared between Barry and Bruce, which also acted as a meta-commentary on the Scarlet Speedster. In the Flashpoint storyline, Barry meets Thomas Wayne’s version of Batman (where Bruce died in the alleyway instead of his parents) and fights alongside him to save the doomed alternate timeline. Realizing that they are fighting a losing battle, Thomas instead urges Barry to go back in time and undo his mistake so that his son can survive, which he learned happens in the prime timeline. He gives Barry a letter addressed to his son, which Barry delivers to Bruce in prime time after all is said and done. The childhood trauma of losing his parents made Bruce into the Caped Crusader in the first place, and a letter from his father, therefore, catches Bruce off guard, strikes an emotional blow, and he briefly breaks down before thanking Barry, stating that he is a hell of a messenger.
In many iterations of Flash, the character has often been compared with Hermes, the Greek messenger god of speed. Through this allusion, writer Geoff Johns niftily acknowledged the character’s creative inspirations and also a role that has been often overlooked in comics in general. As the familial connection of Bruce is not shown in this manner in The Flash, the makers had no choice but to skip this beautiful, poignant moment from the source material.