(Editor’s note: The following post contains spoilers for both “The Flash” and his post-credits scene.)
Ah, the post-credits scene from the superhero movie. As the ever-evolving world of comic book cinematic universes has only grown in recent years (important counting notation: we’re currently at 32 feature films released from the Marvel Cinematic Universe and 14 features released from the DC Extended Universe, with many more on the way), so too the post-credits tag.
Once just a lively and entertaining add-on, post-credits scenes are now tasked with fulfilling a wide number of functions, from setting up a sequel to unveiling new heroes and villains, to the point that even when a movie no include a post-credits tag, it’s worth noting.
And now, for something completely different: The end of Andy Muschietti’s extremely crisp and oft-delayed film ‘The Flash’ doesn’t just set the future for this standalone series, it hints at what’s to come for the larger DC film slate. , which is currently in a state of profound flux and change. It’s not just the film’s only post-credits scene that provides that information, it’s also the final scene of the film itself, which creates a host of questions about the future of the DC multiverse itself.
(Another caveat: The following post contains spoilers for both “The Flash” and his post-credits scene.)
As reported by Variety earlier this month, the secrecy surrounding the film’s final scene and its post-credits sequence was not only a product of Warner Bros. wanting to keep some fun surprises under wraps, it was also rooted in a desire for flexibility surrounding the future of the franchise. The outlet reported that “at the height of (star Ezra) Miller’s PR woes, Warners was trying to keep its options open regarding the speedster’s future trajectory.” In short, how much of that finale would have hinted at other adventures to come? And, even if Miller seems stuck on returning for more movies, what other DC superhero will be joining them for the ride?
According to that Variety story, the film’s final scene was “changed several times” before it screened at CinemaCon in April, and “the version that screened at CinemaCon in April ended abruptly, with part of the final scene missing.” At screenings on the Burbank lot this week, the final scene was intact, but Warners blurred key elements. Muschietti’s film concludes with Miller’s Barry Allen (aka The Flash) smug after seemingly a) returning the multiverse to “normal,” after the film’s time-bending adventure that sees the superhero alter multiple timelines after discovered he can literally run fast enough to go back in time and b) celebrate the release of his beloved father (Ron Livingston) after one lowercase the change Barry made in the past helps exonerate him in the “present day”.
But, as we learn over the course of the film, mostly edited by Michael Keaton’s Batman, who appears as just one of many changes to Barry’s “normal” timeline after going back in time (in his own timeline, it’s Ben Affleck playing the Caped Crusader) — screwing up time has a lot of unintended consequences, kind of going back and forth. So when a very happy Barry walks out of the local courthouse and gets a call from “Bruce Wayne,” he’s excited to see his usual pal: but it’s George Clooney (like Keaton, another former Batman star) who stops by. say hello to his friend. Oops!
Early screenings of the film which included its final moments tarnished Clooney’s appearance as Bruce Wayne/Batman. Audience members knew it Some Batman was coming, and that appearance of him shocked Barry (who yells “Who the fuck is this?” as the hero steps out of his vehicle), but it wasn’t clear which Batman was on deck.
Clooney isn’t the only DC hero appearing in the film’s final moments, though it’s unclear what role he’ll play in the series moving forward (it seems more likely that The Flash’s next adventure will be about setting the timeline correctly and getting Affleck back, even though the actor has been publicly uninterested in returning to the role, so maybe we get a lot more Clooney, and maybe we get something completely new). But there’s one person DC seems ready to announce that he’s part of the future of the franchise (along with Miller), and it’s the hero who shows up in the film’s only post-credits scene: Jason Momoa.
During “The Flash,” once Barry is launched into a new timeline, he begins tracking down the rest of the Justice League, at least as he knows it. He can’t find Diana Prince/Wonder Woman (star Gal Gadot appears in an early scene of the film, FYI), soon discovers that Victor Prince (Ray Fisher) didn’t become Cyborg, and even realizes that the Arthur Curry Momoa wasn’t even born (and therefore his Aquaman doesn’t exist). Bruce Wayne/Batman is, of course, now Michael Keaton. And Superman? He never made it to Earth, but his cousin Kara Zor-El (Sasha Calle) did.
In his somewhat returned to normal timeline, Barry finds Arthur, aka Aquaman, who appears to have spent most of his adult life getting drunk in bars. Barry attempts to explain the details of the multiverse to Arthur, so there it is Always a Bruce Wayne/Batman, albeit a different person in each timeline – but Arthur is too drunk (and, understandably, too confused) to really process what his young friend is saying to him. Instead, he splashes around in a big puddle (it’s “his house”!), tells Barry to get his “Atlantean treasure” (a ring) to get some more beer, and passes out.
It’s short and fun, but it also establishes that Miller remains The Flash, Momoa is back in the fold as Aquaman, and they’ll apparently go on more multiverse adventures together, and so on. All this, in less than a minute!
A Warner Bros. version,“The Flash″ is in theaters now.