The Flash ended up in a tough spot when it hit theaters. When Shazam: Fury of the Gods came out, there were fans who asked why they should bother seeing a movie when it didn’t connect to future DCU movies. It made no sense because all movies should stand on their own. If a Shazam movie is good, who cares if it connects to the next Batman or Superman movie? But people can be weird like that. The Flash saw more impeding its success.

First up, it also doesn’t connect to the future DCU, which James Gunn is rebooting himself with new movies and TV shows coming starting in 2024. However, anyone who followed Flash in the comics knows that this movie could legitimately lead to that. This told the Flashpoint story – or at least a version of it. There was also the fact that star Ezra Miller has gotten in a lot of trouble over the last two years and many fans boycotted the movie because of him.

None of that matters to me when it comes to judging the movie by its own merits.

All that matters is whether The Flash worked as a movie, was entertaining, told a good story, and in that area of judgment, it was a better-than-average DCU movie.

The Flash opens with Alfred Pennyworth (Jeremy Irons) calling Barry Allen and letting him know that Batman needs help in Gotham City. He is trying to stop some criminals and a hospital is about to collapse after an explosion, and that is what Batman needs Barry to deal with. After Flash saves a bunch of newborn babies who fell out of a high-rise hospital window, he ends up racing back and dealing with what is important to him – finding a way to prove his dad is innocent of killing his mom all those years ago.

When things go wrong, Barry gets mad and starts running faster than he ever has before. He then realizes he tapped into the Speed Force and found a way to travel through time to any point in the past. Now, let me stop her and talk about the CGI (which a lot of people complained about). Straight up, the CGI during the baby-saving scene looked terrible. However, there is a reason for that, and anyone who watched the opening and thought about it should know that it was supposed to look cartoony. That entire scene was shot and edited almost as comic relief and shooting it realistically would never have worked or had the same effect. On the other hand, the scenes inside the Speed Force, where Barry was seeing the points in time, were nicely done.

Director Andrés Muschietti made a creative choice on how he made that baby scene look and I won’t judge him for “bad CGI” when he achieved the look he had hoped for. It might not have worked out as well as it could have, but I get it and won’t hold that against the movie as a whole.

The movie then switched gears and started after that point. When Barry realized that his dad was going to lose his appeal because the evidence was not clear enough to exonerate him, Barry decided he wanted to go back in time and change things so his mom wouldn’t die. Even after Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) told him he could destroy everything, Barry did it anyway and tried not to let anyone know he was there so he could change things slyly. He simply made sure his mom never forgot the can goods that she sent his dad to get the morning she was killed. However, when Barry tried to return to the present, he ended up in another part of the past – but one where his mom lived.

This is the Flashpoint story, but it had a huge difference from the comics. The world was not a worse dystopian nightmare. Instead, what Barry did was change the future and the past (Bruce Wayne from this world explained it in the movie to Barry as creating branch realities that change the past and present, which can create a “hot mess.”). This means that Ben Affleck was no longer Batman, and instead, it was Michael Keaton (and he retired because Gotham City was now a safe city). It also means Eric Stoltz was Marty McFly in Back to the Future instead of Michael J. Fox, Superman never arrived on Earth, Aquaman was never born, and now General Zod was attacking Earth with no one there to stop him.

Barry Allen also met himself in that timeline, helped the alternate Flash get his powers, and then lost his powers in the process. After this, they found the new Batman, convinced him to help them find Superman (who was actually Supergirl since Superman never made it to Earth), and then set out to fight General Zod. All that was pretty much shown in the trailer, but there was so much more after this with Barry Allen learning how dangerous it can really be to change the past.

When it comes to the movie as a whole, the characters really carried the movie. There was a lot more humor than the movie needed, and much of it fell flat (alternate Barry’s friends should have ended up on the cutting room floor). Michael Keaton as a reluctant Batman was great and Sasha Calle did what she could with her role as Kara (Supergirl). Michael Shannon was also on form as Zod once again, and that entire battle with the two Flashes, Batman, and Supergirl battling Zod was well done – with a shocking end to that specific fight.

Other than the acting, the storyline was well done, with a great message in the end for Barry Allen – one that he had to learn. However, there was one last twist in the movie that showed Barry really didn’t learn his lesson as well as he should have because he still wanted to change the past and it still caused the present-day DCU to change in what was one of the funniest moments of the movie (one last cameo).

Speaking of cameos, there were a ton of Easter eggs in the final fight where Barry Allen fought one last foe in the Speed Force. Many of those cameos were spoiled already, but they were all really fun – especially for old-school comic book movie fans. They were also done with some shoddy CGI compared to what fans have gotten used to in recent years. But, regardless of this, they still managed to put a smile on my face.

In the end, The Flash did what it needed to do. It entertained me and told a good superhero story with some great acting. There were some missteps and not seeing any resolution to who killed Barry’s mom was disappointing. At least Barry got a happy moment in the end concerning his family life. Then there was that last cameo before the credits, which was just brilliant for all the right reasons. The Flash wasn’t as good as earlier comic book movies in 2023, falling short of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 and Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse specifically, but it was still a worthwhile end to the current iteration of the DCU.