Though it might not be the revolutionary movie for the superhero genre that some were expecting, director Andy Muschietti and DC Studios’ The Flash is a solid, fun adventure and primer for the upcoming DCU that continues the trend of comic book movies playing around with the multiverse concept.
And if fans are still itching to get their sci-fi superhero fix after watching it, there’s a solid catalog of movies to stream. Within the DC Comics corner of the genre, animated gems like Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox and live-action classics like Batman hold up well. On the other side of the “Big Two,” Marvel’s latest animated blockbuster, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, is another must-watch.
Among the most relevant movies to The Flash, Tim Burton’s Batman is an excellent complement to DC Studios’ latest blockbuster. Though it’s not exactly reminiscent of the comic book source material — even for the time — it’s a quintessentially Burton take on the Caped Crusader. The director and Michael Keaton’s rendition of the hero effectively revived the Batman brand theatrically, moving on from the goofy campiness of the 1950s and ’60s to a darker version.
Jack Nicholson’s iconic Joker is a major highlight, with his eccentric personality bouncing off the brooding vigilante well. Batman also has all the gothic style and art direction fans of Burton would want and expect. Even after nearly 34 years, it’s still one of the best Batman movies to watch now.
Batman is available to stream now on Max.
For a bit more Flash-centric story, the crossover movie Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox is a clear choice after watching the Scarlet Speedster’s (kind of) solo blockbuster. Based on the Flashpoint comic book arc — and the inspiration for The Flash — this animated movie sees the hero nearly ruin the timeline after going back in time to save his mother’s life.
The result is a thrilling semi-Elseworlds tale depicting a dystopian world and alternate versions of classic characters, including Thomas Wayne’s murderous antihero Batman. The animation is smooth and the performances complement a tasteful adaptation of a landmark story. It’s a shame that DC’s animated movies don’t get more recognition, with director Jay Oliva’s epic a highlight.
Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox is available to stream now on Max.
Following up on the groundbreaking success of his first effort, Burton got even bolder with 1992’s Batman Returns. While it was controversial at the time due to angry parents surprised at what they saw, the movie was an inventive macabre spin on the Dark Knight’s world. Michelle Pfeiffer and Danny DeVito joined the cast for unforgettable versions of Catwoman and Penguin, respectively.
The latter’s take on the Gotham mob boss combined the villain’s general comic book design with a horrific and literal interpretation of his penguin motif. Batman Returns was an inventive pseudo-gothic horror vision of the hero’s world, with the Christmas setting fitting it seamlessly. It was also the last time Batman would thrive in live-action until Christopher Nolan came along, with the disappointments of Batman Forever and Batman & Robin nearly killing it.
Batman Returns is available to stream now on Max.
While the now-retired DCEU’s rocky rollout, controversial creative decisions, and studio drama are the collective elephant in the room, Zack Snyder’s Justice League is an admirable sendoff. After Batman v Superman and Joss Whedon’s ghost-directed Justice League‘s critical lambasting, this director’s cut more tastefully and cohesively chronicles the team’s face-off against Steppenwolf.
It can admittedly feel a bit self-indulgent with its runtime and pacing, but Zack Snyder’s Justice League arguably succeeds as the first solid live-action Justice League movie. Likewise, it features a touching Cyborg plotline and redeemable Batman, and it’s the next best place in live-action to see the Scarlet Speedster in action.
Zack Snyder’s Justice League is available to stream now on Max.
Outside the DC Comics wheelhouse, Sony Animation Pictures and Marvel’s Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is a fantastic superhero and multiversal-themed crossover movie. Meanwhile, the recently released Across the Spider-Verse builds on its predecessor’s acclaimed foundation.
Both movies are superb showcases of the strengths of animation as a visual medium, and they pay wonderful homage to the aesthetic of the comic book source material. Aside from the striking visuals, though, are a pair of emotionally resonating stories. The coming-of-age theme goes beautifully with the fan service of delving into the myriad of colorful Spider-Verse characters. The Spider-Verse movies are undoubtedly the most topical, but an obvious honorable mention goes to the MCU’s Spider-Man: No Way Home.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is available to stream now on FuboTV, and Across the Spider-Verse is now playing in theaters.
DC Studios’ The Flash is now playing in theaters.
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