What to do with The Flash and Ezra Miller? Warner Bros. is in a dilemma

The Flash 2022
Warner Bros.

The first test screenings are excellent, but the behavior of the star is problematic.

We have just learned that Michael De Luca and Pamela Adby will replace Toby Emmerich at the head of Warner Bros. studios. He arrived at this position in 2018, after having spent a large part of his career as a producer with the studio, but his mandate was complicated, in the era of the global epidemic of Covid-19 and the launch of HBO. Max, which pushed the company to push its streaming service to the detriment of movie theaters. Throughout 2021, each feature film released in cinemas was available simultaneously on HBO Maxwhich resulted in criticism and internal conflicts. Since the beginning of 2022, the rule has changed, but the broadcast window of a streaming movie has been drastically reduced to just 30 days.

This change of direction marks the occasion to take stock of the upcoming release of one of the firm’s big films: The Flash, by Andy Muschietti. Because if it was mainly overseen by Walter Hamada, head of DC Comics adaptations at Warner, it was still supervised by Emmerich. The exit strategy of The Flash Will it be changed following his departure? variety wonders, revealing that if the first test screenings took place in Hollywood, and that they went very well, the violent behavior of its main actor, Ezra Millercould impact its success.

The article recalls that the now 29-year-old actor was cast in 2014 by Warner Bros. to play Barry Allen/The Flash, a young superhero who has the power to move extremely quickly. Appeared in batman v supermanin 2016, then in Suicide Squad and Justice League, his role has gained in importance within the DCEU saga, to the point of offering him a solo film. Well, not quite, since this project, whose main theme is the “multiverse”, The Flash will meet several interpreters of Batman there : Ben Affleck and Michael Keaton, as well as Superman’s adversary in man of steel, Zod, played by Michael Shannon. This concept is promising, allowing to play with the expectations of fans of comics and their adaptations. It is also largely developed by competition with Spider-Man Next Generation, Spider-Man: No Way Home Where Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness… Yet the team of The Flash cannot rely solely on this idea to make the public want to make the trip to cinemas. This project having had a complicated manufacture, its quality worries some of the amateurs of the genre. A dozen directors and at least as many screenwriters worked on The Flash since 2014, until Andy Muschietti was definitively chosen, in 2019, following the success of That, the two-part adaptation of the horror work of Stephen King at Warner. The final version of the script is by Christina Hodson (Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Story of Harley Quinn), and filming took place in 2021, when the Covid-19 epidemic was in full swing, creating organizational problems and further release postponements. Now, it is set for June 23, 2023, and this date should logically not move. “The studio can’t postpone it forever”writes the journalist of variety.

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We need to talk about Ezra

The first teasers of The Flash intrigued audiences, and everything seemed in place to pique viewers’ curiosity until its release, giving this $200 million blockbuster every chance of being a hit in theaters, but the behavior of its lead actor in outside film sets has been making more and more noise in recent months. Recalling first of all that Ezra Miller is a talented actor, revealed by the drama of Lynne Ramsay, We Need to Talk About Kevinthen appreciated in Charlie’s worldby Stephen Chomsky or Crazy Amy, of Judd Apatow, the paper emphasizes that it denotes with the image of the traditional Hollywood heroes. Openly non-binary and bisexual, he represented on paper “a progressive and refreshing choice for a summer blockbuster of this scale”, considers the American magazine. In parallel with his employment in The Flashhe was also chosen to play an important character from another studio saga, Fantastic Beasts. Trouble is, multiple escapades have since made tabloid headlines, overshadowing his performances and prompting Warner Bros. to oust him from promoting films. Dumbledore’s Secretsat the beginning of the year.

First caught in the act ofstrangulation of a fan in Iceland, in 2020, he attacked people participating in a karaoke at the start of the year, then became violent again a few days later during a vacation in Hawaii. So much so that the local police arrested him and then forced him to leave the country. Repeated scandals that worry his fans about his mental health, just like the production of The Flashwho does not know if she will be able to count on him to defend the film in which he plays the hero.

By dint of being violent towards strangers, could Ezra Miller be fired from The Flash and replaced by another actor? variety ensures that this will not be the case, his role being too important in the blockbuster: he would be present in all the scenes. There has long been a rumor about replacing him with Grant Gustin, who plays him on a CW TV series and is popular with audiences for his portrayal of the superhero, but it never came true. However, this kind of replacement has happened before, even if it is very expensive to producers. Ridley Scott erased Kevin Spacey from his film All the money in the world to hire Christopher Plummer in his place, in 2017, when the star was accused of sexual assault. Warner has also fired Johnny Depp from Fantastic Beasts 3 following the complaint for domestic violence launched against him by his ex-wife, Amber Heard. The great villain of the saga, Gellert Grindelwald, is now played by Mads Mikkelsenbut Depp had only shot one sequence for this blockbuster when he was fired. “On The Flashit would be impossible to replace Miller without turning over the whole film”says the article.

Will the studio then choose to leave the star aside during the promotion of the film? Recently, Ansel Elgort, for example, was ousted by Disney from that of West Side Story, by Steven Spielberg, after being accused of sexual assault. Ditto for Armie Hammer, targeted by complaints of rape, whose role has been reduced to promote Death on the Nile, by Kenneth Branagh, by the same studio. Two examples which however did not concern the main hero of the film: they nevertheless embodied important characters, but within a “set cast”. Ezra Miller, he interprets The Flash, which gives its title to the blockbuster, and that changes the game. If it were possible to try to make him forget as part of the promotion of Fantastic Beasts 3 (we saw little of his character, Croyance, in the trailers, he did not participate in the junkets or the preview…), difficult to organize interviews, press conferences and the red carpet of The Flash completely omitting its star!

After his arrest, Ezra Miller’s DC projects put on stand-by

The Flash will be released in a year, which still leaves the production and the actor time to find the right way to improve his image with the public. variety concludes that “Despite everything, Warner Bros. remains enthusiastic about The Flashconsidering this film to be one of their biggest efforts to adapt DC comics for cinema.” The first critical feedback is encouraging, and if it is still too early to talk about the sequel (remember that the original idea was to make Barry Allen one of the key characters of the DCEU, in the same way as Batman, Wonder Woman , Aquaman, etc.), there is currently no question of cutting ties with Ezra Miller.

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