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Why The Flash is Aiming Under Expectations

The Flash

The New DC Film Premiers with Little Buzz

With the exception of 2022’s The Batman, recent films based on DC comic characters have performed poorly at the box office. Even with the highest-paid actor in the world, the Dwayne Johnson-led superhero film, Black Adam, became a box-office bomb for the studio, while the recently released Shazam: Fury of the Gods was a disaster. Other films, such as Birds of Prey, Wonder Woman 84, and The Suicide Squad, also had underwhelming results when released in theaters.  

The most recent DC film, The Flash, was released in theaters on June 16, failing to reach the expected weekend box-office results. With projections originally predicting around $70-$75 million, the film went on to open only to $55 million. With glowing reviews before the film’s release and high praise from the studio, it calls into question the reasoning behind the disappointing results.

The Elephant in the Room

Of course, the dark cloud looming over the project is the film’s star, Ezra Miller. Over the past few years, Miller has been involved in a number of serious allegations, such as assaulting a woman, robbing a married couple, grooming a minor, and eventually running away with her, to name a few. With allegations such as these, some online have criticized the film even before its release and felt uncomfortable supporting it. There have been films released in the past starring actors shrouded in controversy, such as Armie Hammer in Death on the Nile, but few films that have faced these sorts of allegations did not involve the main actor, especially one playing multiple roles in the film. 

The film’s marketing struggled to promote it as the studio tried to keep Miller away from press tours. With a high-budget studio blockbuster such as The Flash, it would be hard to generate the right amount of buzz without plastering the lead of the film all over social media, commercials, promotions, and interviews. Choosing to do a marketing campaign that promotes the film but hides the star makes for an unusual approach that didn’t succeed at garnering enough audiences into seats.

The Flash

An Approaching Reboot

When David Zaslav took over Warner Brothers, one priority was rebuilding the DC brand. After hiring director James Gunn and producer Peter Safran to be co-CEOs of DC studios, a reboot became inevitable. Sure enough, James Gunn announced earlier this year a line for the new DC universe of films, including a rebooted Superman and Batman and a lineup of new characters. This left Shazam: Fury of the Gods, The Flash, Blue Beetle, and Aquaman & the Lost Kingdom in an odd position, as they essentially were leftover baggage from the previous ownership. With a reboot coming, it’s possible fans have seen these leftover films as unimportant, as they most likely will not lead to anything. 

Fatigue of the Genre

No one likes to talk about it, and many will try to deny it, but with a slew of disappointing superhero films being released one after another, audiences have most likely grown tired of rushing out to every new comic book film. This year alone, five superhero films have already been released, with only three of them being positively received. Other superhero films have recently been released to disappointing reviews and box office results. Marvel’s Eternals, Thor: Love & Thunder, Black Adam, and others have begun to show the cracks in the armor of the once gold mine of a genre. While The Flash is a relatively popular DC superhero but a new character on the big screen, audiences may have decided to wait for a Max release rather than spend time and money rushing to theaters.

The theory that superhero fatigue doesn’t apply to all superhero films, as there have been a number of them recently released to positive reception from audiences, as well as becoming box office successes. The Batman, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, and Spider-Man: Across the Spiderverse proved that there is still life within the genre. However, audiences most likely have become picky with the films they support. As there was roughly a decade where comic book films were almost guaranteed to succeed, with the overabundance of movies being released, it feels as if the genre has become diluted. It doesn’t mean that every comic book movie will succeed or fail, but audiences are becoming particular with the films they choose to see, leaving The Flash a recent example of this trend. 

Watch The Flash, currently playing in theaters.

The Flash

The Flash (2023) Official Warner Bros. Trailer

Source: Dead Talk Live

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Mason Kupiainen is a recent Butler University graduate with a degree in Creative Media and Entertainment. His work has been published in Butler Collegiate, The Mall, and Byte BSU. Along with written work, he has a videography portfolio with Indy Blue Video, Byte BSU, and Ball Bearings.