Without a doubt, the biggest influence on The Flash film is the 2011 DC Comics event series Flashpoint. In that storyline, written by Geoff Johns and illustrated by Andy Kubert, the recently returned from the dead Barry Allen uses his super speed to go back in time, in order to undo the murder of his mother when he was a child. When he returns to the present, this act of changing the past alters everything in his timeline. His Batman is different, his Wonder Woman’s and Aquaman’s kingdoms are at war, and so much more. And it’s almost all for the worse. Barry realized he must allow his past to unfold as it did to restore the present he knew. If you’ve seen The Flash, then much of that synopsis sounds very familiar.
This event comic ultimately led to a new prime DC universe, known as “The New 52.” Flashpoint was a seminal story, one that really changed everything. Both the current film The Flash and the CW television series of the same name did their own versions of Flashpoint. But Andy Muschietti’s The Flash also carries a big influence from a previous mega DC event comic, Crisis on Infinite Earths, by Marv Wolfman and George Perez. In fact, outside of the “going back in time to save mom” plot, the sci-fi plot mechanics of The Flash more closely resemble those in Crisis on Infinite Earths.
Flashpoint: Barry Allen’s Time Travel Tragedy
In Flashpoint, Barry Allen changes races backward in time into his past, resulting in a new future. Or for him, a new present. In this reality, things were far darker. For starters, they shot Bruce Wayne in the alley instead of his parents, thereby making his father Thomas Wayne into Batman, and his mother Martha into the Joker. Superman never arrived in the Kansas cornfield, and instead was captured by Soviet Agents. But in both The Flash film and Crisis on Infinite Earths, something different occurs thanks to Barry’s interference. Barry’s meddling in the past collapses several distinct timelines into one, changing history from even before the event of his mother’s murder.
The Flash and Crisis on Infinite Earths, Two DC Sagas of Colliding Timelines
In Crisis on Infinite Earths, distinctly different Earths suddenly merged. The Justice Society of America from World War II once lived on its own distinct parallel dimension, Earth-Two. Meanwhile, the modern-day Justice League lived on Earth-One. With Crisis, these worlds and their histories merged. The JSA was still a part of history, but its Superman was erased from the timeline, and replaced with another. No one but a handful of heroes knew that this shared history was something created as a result of the Crisis. The Flash borrows from this story, with Barry’s universe now having a totally different Batman (Michael Keaton), replacing the one played by Ben Affleck. This was far more of a Crisis reference than a reference to Flashpoint.
When Worlds Collide
Of course, the biggest Crisis influence came towards the climax of the film. When the two Flashes are moving through time, we see multiple realities crashing into each other around them. We see the heroes of these realities on various time globes, for lack of a better word. All of which just brings to mind George Perez’s classic cover of Crisis in Infinite Earths #5. Only in this instance, the worlds we see feature the heroic figures not from comics, but from DC’s multimedia past—George Reeves as Superman, Adam West as Batman, and Christopher Reeve and Helen Slater as Superman and Supergirl, respectively. And the biggest fun surprise, we saw Nicolas Cage as the Man of Steel from Superman Lives, Tim Burton’s unmade ‘90s film.
The final main plot beats of both the Flashpoint and Crisis on Infinite Earths comics are largely the same however. And they seem to also be the same in The Flash. A new DCU universe with a new history emerged from all three stories. One that kept some elements from a previous continuity, while overwriting others. It remains to be seen just what James Gunn’s new DCU keeps from the old continuity. But at least some things will remain. Aside from a new Superman and Batman, we don’t really know much else at the current time. Will Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman stay? How changed is Jason Momoa’s Aquaman? We have a lot of questions still. But without a doubt, The Flash owes a great deal to Marv Wolfman’s and George Perez’s game-changing classic.