Andy Muschietti is officially suiting up to direct a new Batman film, Variety can report exclusively. The film is one of several new DC Studios titles mapped out by leaders James Gunn and Peter Safran earlier this year.
Muschietti, behind this weekend’s superhero release “The Flash,” will direct “Batman: The Brave and the Bold.” The project is based on the comic series authored by Grant Morrison, who Gunn called “exceptionally influential” on in the DC Universe in January. The comics imagine a “Bat family,” where Bruce Wayne’s biological son Damian serves as Robin to his dad’s Batman. Muschietti’s sister and creative partner Barbara will produce the project via their label Double Dream, alongside Gunn and Safran.
The project does not currently have a screenwriter attached. This will mark the first live-action film appearance of Robin since Chris O’Donnell played the role opposite George Clooney in the 1997 film “Batman and Robin.” This film will exist separately from Robert Pattinson’s “The Batman” movies.
Gunn and Safran’s inaugural slate is called “Gods and Monsters,” and the content spans series and standalone films. Additional titles include a previously announced Superman feature written by Gunn, now officially titled “Superman: Legacy,” a Wonder Woman prequel series and a Green Lantern mystery series. Lesser known DC characters, including Booster Gold and Swamp Thing, will also be introduced. While the DCU exists as a multiverse, these titles will exist in one singular universe.
Muschietti was the creative force behind another blockbuster Warner Bros. Discovery franchise — New Line Cinema’s “It” starring Bill Skarsgard and Jessica Chastain. His breakout moment came in 2013 with the acclaimed horror project “Mama,” also starring Chastain.
As they walk, they discuss the conversation they were just having off-screen. Barry mentioned how there are many different versions of Batman and other heroes, but only one version of Aquaman. This is a very obvious clue that Momoa’s Aquaman will stick around for the James Gunn era of the DCU.
The opening scene of The Flash firmly places the movie as a sequel to Justice League. After saving the world from Steppenwolf (Ciarán Hinds), the Justice League remains in touch with each other to ask for help when needed. That happens once Batman (Ben Affleck) needs backup to capture criminals stealing a deadly virus from a Gotham City hospital. Besides Affleck’s Batman, the opening scene of The Flash also features Jeremy Irons’ Alfred, who works as the man in the chair for Bruce Wayne, connecting him to other Justice League members. And before the criminals are captured, Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman shows up to lend a hand.
The whole sequence explains how the Justice League keeps working together in the DC universe, even though we are on the verge of a cinematic reboot that’ll lead to the new DCU. Throughout the film, we also get several nods to Ray Fisher’s Cyborg, Jason Momoa’s Aquaman, and Henry Cavill’s Superman. And while Fisher and Cavill don’t get cameos, the presence of Affleck and Gadot right at the start of The Flash creates the interconnectivity DC movies have been lacking for the last few years.
Miller stars as Barry Allen, the speedy superhero known as the Flash, who is so fast he is able to slow down time, but needs a full stomach in order to do so. An opening scene makes his predicament clear: The Flash is called on to halt a bank robbery, save a hospital as it crumbles and literally catch babies as they rain down from the sky, but first he has to crash a vending machine and fuel up because superheroing is hard work and requires a lot of calories.
Miller — who has portrayed the Flash since 2016’s “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” — plays the scenario perfectly, with a keen understanding of the comic nature of the scene and the world that director Andy Muschietti (“It” and its sequel) is building. And Miller has a physical relatability that’s different from the superjacked Chris Hemsworths and Chris Evanses of the world, and seems more likely to be hanging out at an indie record store than saving the day. It’s that unconventional approach which makes Miller so appealing in the role.
He meets a doofy alternate version of himself, whom he has to teach the ropes of superherodom while keeping him from freaking out and losing his marbles. (Miller shines in the double role.) And he’s introduced to multiverse politics through a visit to this new world’s Batman, who is played by a blast from the past, former big screen Caped Crusader Michael Keaton.
The Keaton bit has long since been given away. 2021’s “Spider-Man: No Way Home” broke the fourth wall by exploding the barriers between audience and the world characters inhabit on screen, and it brought together three generations of actors who portrayed Spider-Man and had them interact with one another, expressly for our pleasure as moviegoers. And it worked.
The film’s timeline of events is explained quite handily using a bowl of spaghetti as an example, and that’s when things start to get messy. Like studio notes dropping in from above, the film is utterly derailed by the arrival of General Zod (Michael Shannon), and in a flash, the fate of the world is now at stake. Cue the arrival of Supergirl (Sasha Calle) and a whole bunch of multiversal gobbledygook that ups the ante of the plot and shifts the film away from its sweet spot, which is its relatively small center of gravity. It quickly turns into such a blur of nonsense that its early charms are all but wiped away, and the film runs out of steam as it drags to the nearly two-and-a-half hour mark.
At its best, “The Flash” is a fizzy comic adventure, and it’s fun so long as Barry and his quest to reunite his family is at its center. But as its priority becomes popping the Comic Con crowd, internal logic be damned, it blurs the line between audience and character until that line ceases to exist. “The Flash” wants big surprises and sacrifices story for the reactions those surprises will garner in the moment. Perhaps true to the character, the good time lasts only briefly and is gone before you know it, a trail of dust left in its path.
And yet The Flash, finally in theaters this week after years of rewrites, setbacks, and controversies (many of them related to the litany of serious allegations against its star), has the occasional feel of a swansong. For all it looks to the future (and past) of DC movies, it also functions as a rather climactic romp through the sandbox Snyder built.
Snyder, of course, hasn’t actually been involved in a DC project for years, unless one counts the unlikely opportunity WB eventually granted him: finishing his own fabled cut of Justice League. (By now, the various twists and turns of that saga, marked by professional conflict and great personal tragedy, have been well documented, by The Daily Beast and elsewhere.) But in ways big and small, Snyder’s vision has persisted across the movies made in the wake of his departure. It’s there in the continued involvement of the actors he cast. And it’s present in the general look, if not always the feel, of the movies themselves, which have continued to follow his lead in the splash-panel action department, even as they’ve deviated from his often self-serious approach to the characters.
The Flash begins fully in Snyder World, with an opening set piece that mostly adheres to the stylistic template the director set while offering what counts as one of the last chances to see his versions of the heroes in action. Is this the final appearance of Batfleck? It’s reportedly unknown, at present, whether it’ll be him or Keaton who shows up in the second Aquaman. Even with some members missing (and one shuttled off to a jokey post-credits scene), the opening sequence has the vibe of a last hurrah for the Justice League, a quick farewell tour before The Flash scrambles the continuity.
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