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Warner Bros. held the first-ever public screening of “The Flash” on Monday night in Las Vegas during CinemaCon 2023, and 24 hours later the social media embargo has expired. And you know what that means: The first reactions are in.
And, surprise: They’re… mostly rapturous. People who saw it loved it. Well, mostly. There were some criticisms too, harsh ones even. But even the nay-sayers had at least some nice things to say about it.
Now, the reactions of journalists at a highly curated industry event like CinemaCon don’t necessarily guarantee critical acclaim and box office gold to follow. But it has to feel like a good sign for Warner Bros. Discovery, which has had what can politely be described as a very tough year thanks to this movie.
Naturally, those reading this know that “The Flash” has been saddled with far more controversy than hype. That’s of course thanks in part to the public meltdown of star Ezra Miller that made headlines throughout 2022. But not helping matters were the, uh, divisive decisions by Warner Bros. Discovery boss David Zaslav who, upon taking the reins of the company following the merger that created it — coincidentally, around the same time Miller’s meltdown started — abruptly canceled several projects, including the HBO Max movie “Batgirl,” which was reportedly already finished.
In the case of “Batgirl,” the official explanation was, essentially, that it was too horrible to ever see the light of day and WBD was better off taking the financial hit than releasing it. Whether or not that’s true, WBD subsequently faced accusations that it was singling out projects featuring women or people of color for cancelation, while protecting “The Flash” despite the multiple legal problems Miller created for himself.
The uproar died down somewhat as 2022 wound down. WBD earned itself some enormous goodwill by appointing “Guardians of the Galaxy” director James Gunn as the new co-head of DC Films, while Miller resolved his legal problems, entered treatment for mental health issues, and more importantly stayed out of the spotlight. Still, a giant question mark hung over “The Flash.”
But, as far as the people who watched “The Flash” in Vegas last night are concerned, the decision not to cancel it was, as it turns out, justified.
Writer Jenna Busch went so far as to say “it makes sense to me now why DC didn’t shelve this one.”
TheWrap’s Umberto Gonzalez, meanwhile, said the film “belongs in the same conversation as SUPERMAN 78 and BATMAN 89,” and calls it “the greatest DC movie of the last 30 years.
Gizmodo’s Germain Lussier says “The Flash” is “Back to the Future meets Spider-Man: No Way Home with all the humor & heart of the former and action and surprises of the latter.” Though he also suggests it might be “a tad too ambitious.”
And continuing in the criticism side, The Ankler’s Jeff Sneider called the film “a mixed bag,” noting that while the first hour was “pretty fantastic” and that Miller “is great. Heroic. Funny. Emotional,” the film’s latter half “is MOSTLY terrible” and “an utter mess.”
But, you won’t be surprised to hear, anyone who cared to mention Michael Keaton, who plays Batman for the first time since 1992, had nothing but huge praise for him.
Starring Miller as Barry Allen/The Flash, the film follows Barry after travels back in time to prevent his mother’s murder and in the process ends up breaking the multiverse. Encountering other versions of himself as well as a version of Supergirl from an alternate timeline, he teams up with a very different, much older Batman — Michael Keaton’s version — to set everything right.
Directed by Andy Muschietti from a script by Christina Hodson, “The Flash” also stars Sasha Calle as Supergirl, Michael Shannon as General Zod (reprising his role from “Man of Steel”), Ron Livingston as Barry’s father, Maribel Verdú as Barry’s mother, along with Kiersey Clemons and Antje Traue.
Read on for a sample of reactions.
More to come.
#TheFlash is pretty great, and it makes sense to me now why DC didn't shelve this one. Michael Keaton is … chef's kiss. I didn't realize how much I needed Keaton's Batman in my life again. Some really emotional moments here. Sasha Calle is awesome – I want to see more of her! pic.twitter.com/2DYhSKMfyI
— Jenna Busch (@JennaBusch) April 26, 2023
BELIEVE THE HYPE! Christopher Nolan movies aside, #TheFlashMovie is the GREATEST DC movie of the last 30 years that belongs in the same conversation as SUPERMAN 78 and BATMAN 89. The movie breaks incredible new ground in superhero cinema & honors DC lore of years past. #TheFlash pic.twitter.com/zGkhpfjlsl
— Umberto Gonzalez (@elmayimbe) April 26, 2023
Yup. #TheFlash is as good as rumored. It’s Back to the Future meets Spider-Man: No Way Home with all the humor & heart of the former and action and surprises of the latter. If anything, it might be a tad too ambitious but it’s also just incredibly satisfying, heartwarming & fun. pic.twitter.com/Yysb9mjiAm
— Germain Lussier (@GermainLussier) April 26, 2023
#TheFlash is fantastic. I know Ezra Miller has made a lot of mistakes but they are soooooo good in this movie. Loved Keaton, the action, humor and emotion. Andy Muschietti has crafted something special. Thumbs way up.
WB didn’t show the after the credits scenes. pic.twitter.com/J8KsdrKVwz
— Steven Weintraub (@colliderfrosty) April 26, 2023
Yeah, #TheFlash is legit great! It delivers some notably thrilling, fun and creative moments I felt I hadn’t seen in a million other superhero movies. It had me smiling from the Warner Bros. logo at the top and I even dug stuff inspired by movies I wasn’t into. pic.twitter.com/B5vFyFBBcl
— Eric Goldman (@TheEricGoldman) April 26, 2023
DC’s #TheFlash is TREMENDOUS! Forget DC, it is without a doubt among the best superhero films ever made. An all-timer. Inventive storytelling, FANTASTIC action sequences, great cast. SO MANY nerdy details. I’m in tears at the end. Everything you want from a superhero film & more pic.twitter.com/xYSn0zuXMm
— Erik Davis (@ErikDavis) April 26, 2023
Just watched #TheFlash at CinemaCon. It has some stuff in it you will not believe and it showcases much more of Barry Allen’s powers. It is indeed one of DC’s best and fits nicely as a bridge story between the old and new DCEU franchises. It’s also the funniest DC movie. pic.twitter.com/uDepMKVVG1
— Rob Keyes (@rob_keyes) April 26, 2023
THE FLASH: First hr is pretty fantastic. Strikes the perfect tone. Ezra is great. Heroic. Funny. Emotional. The last hr is MOSTLY terrible. Just an utter mess that’ll leave you asking, “what the HELL is going on?” Fan service & DC villain problem strike again. Mixed bag overall.
— Jeff Sneider (@TheInSneider) April 26, 2023
I don’t know what to say other than #TheFlash delivered more than I could have hoped. The acting is beyond great. Keaton delivers everything you want. Supergirl is my new favorite superhero? I’m genuinely shocked this movie meets and surpasses the hype. I never expected that. pic.twitter.com/PcmpJ2juZ6
— Chris E. Hayner (@ChrisHayner) April 26, 2023
#TheFlash manages to deliver glorious high thrills. Andy Muschietti captures what many of us have always dreamed for a cinematic Flash story.
But there's also plenty of just *bizarre* decisions. Some story related and others technical. Not amazing but still pretty good at times. pic.twitter.com/SjO27VtH1O
— Andrew J. Salazar @ CinemaCon (@AndrewJ626) April 26, 2023
— Kristian Harloff (@KristianHarloff) April 26, 2023
Just out of #TheFlash at CinemaCon. Believe the hype folks – truly one of the great superhero movies. Ezra Miller (x2), Sasha Calle and MICHAEL KEATON. It’s pretty perfect and one of the best films of this type you could ever hope to see.
— JoBlo.com (@joblocom) April 26, 2023