At long last, after years of delays, DC’s time-traveling blockbuster, The Flash, has reached theaters. When Barry Allen runs back in time to prevent his mother’s murder, he ends up in a drastically different timeline without any heroes to protect the world from General Zod’s invasion.
Given that the Flash travels the Multiverse and teams up with Michael Keaton’s iconic version of Batman, this superhero film features an extraordinary number of Easter eggs that should give comic book fans a field day. To make it easier for viewers, here’s a breakdown of all the DC references found in the Scarlet Speedster’s first solo film.
Note: the following article contains heavy plot spoilers for The Flash movie.
When Barry first speaks with Iris West in the film, the latter faintly recalls seeing Barry a few years prior. This could be a reference to their encounter in Zack Snyder’s Justice League, in which Barry saves her from getting hit by a truck.
Though she did catch a glimpse of him after he rescued her, he ran away so fast that she probably thought he was just in her mind. So unless proven otherwise by the filmmakers, this little piece of dialogue might have established Snyder’s version of Justice League as canon in the DC Extended Universe.
As Iris arrives at Barry’s apartment after Bruce Wayne finishes talking with him, a neon sign for a place called “Grayson’s” can be seen in the background. This clearly references Bruce’s adoptive son, Dick Grayson, a.k.a. Robin/Nightwing.
It’s also a reminder of a character who unfortunately never got to appear in the DCEU, as he was revealed to have been brutally murdered by the Joker in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
With the appearance of a new super suit, Barry comes wearing a special ring from Alfred that stores this costume and shoots it out whenever he needs to change into the Flash.
Barry has used this little device in the comics for decades, and its appearance in the film marks another step for the DCEU’s Flash toward becoming like his counterpart from the source material.
When younger Barry geeks out exploring the Batcave, he shows his older self a literal “bag of laughs.” Diehard fans of the Burtonverse will remember this as the bag found on Joker’s dead body following his mighty fall at the end of 1989’s Batman.
It even plays the same eerie laugh that can be heard by the police when they discover the Joker’s lifeless corpse. This Easter egg only encapsulates how, even in death, the Joker is still laughing over 30 years later.
During the heroes’ mission to rescue Supergirl, when Batman dives down from his Batwing, the aircraft can be seen silhouetted in the full moon as it flies through the night sky. This is a clear homage to the moment in Burton’s Batman when the hero’s ship flies in front of the moon during his climactic battle with Joker.
When Batman and both Barrys break Kara out of her Siberian prison, the Caped Crusader asks for the weight of his allies before using explosives to blow an elevator upward and help them escape.
This line harkens back to when Bruce asks Vicki Vale the same question in Burton’s original film when he uses his grappling hook to launch her to safety.
At one point in the film, the hulking Kryptonian Nam-Ek leaps onto the Batwing as it’s airborne to attack Batman, only for the Dark Knight to fly out of it just in time.
This is a reference to a moment in Man of Steel when Nam-Ek jumps at a military jet and crushes the pilot’s head while he’s still in the aircraft. It’s a blink-and-you-miss-it death, but the fact that it was referenced here shows the filmmakers’ attention to detail when it came to revisiting the DCEU’s first movie.
One of Zack Snyder’s most notable contributions to the Superman canon is the iconic over-the-shoulder shot of the hero punching someone in midair in Man of Steel. The shot has since been replicated numerous times across different comic book media, including by the CW’s Supergirl, Doctor Sivana, and Omni-Man. The film’s version of Supergirl also repeats this shot in the explosive third act when she flies in and cleans Zod’s clock.
Early in the film, Barry encounters a monstrous Speedster who drives him out of the Speed Force and into the year 2013. It is only until the film’s third act that this dark figure is revealed to be an older version of Barry’s alternate self, who had tried and failed countless times to stop Zod and save everyone in his timeline, getting impaled with Kryptonian shrapnel in the process.
While this evil Speedster seems to be based on Dark Flash, an evil version of Wally West from the comics, he may very well be an amalgamation of two other DC villains: Black Flash and Red Death. While the Black Flash serves as the Grim Reaper for Speedsters, Red Death is an evil version of Bruce Wayne who gained the power of the Speed Force. With other Barry donning a suit similar to Red Death’s and becoming a corrupted and decaying Speedster like the Black Flash, the film seems to have taken two villains to create something new but equally terrifying.
While Barry is trapped in the Speed Force by the Dark Flash, they see how their time-traveling is destroying other realities. In this scene, the film gives the audience glimpses of the heroes and villains from across the Multiverse as their dimensions fall apart.
These cameos include George Reeves’s Superman, Christopher Reeve’s Superman, Helen Slater’s Supergirl, Adam West’s Batman, and the CW’s Terry Sears as Jay Garrick. It also features Nicolas Cage fighting a giant spider as the Man of Steel, as he was supposed to star in Tim Burton’s canceled film, Superman Lives.
The Flash delivers one last shocking twist when Barry reunites with the Bruce of his timeline at the end of the film. However, instead of Ben Affleck, Barry sees George Clooney appear as Bruce Wayne. This comes after Barry changes the past to make sure his mother does meet her original fate, but not before making it so there is video evidence proving his father wasn’t responsible for her death.
Clooney is widely considered to be the worst Batman following his performance in the widely panned Batman & Robin, so it’s quite a surprise to see him reappear in this movie. This leaves the audience wondering what will become of Barry and Bruce after this, especially with James Gunn’s new DC Universe just on the horizon. Will Barry have to go back and change history again? Will Clooney lead Batman: The Brave and the Bold? Only time will tell.
The Flash is now playing in theaters.