Editor’s Note: The following contains spoilers for ‘The Flash’

The Big Picture

  • Michael Keaton’s return as Batman in The Flash is not just a nostalgic cameo, but an integral part of the story and fight against Zod.
  • The Flash is the first live-action film to feature three different Bruce Waynes, including a surprise appearance by George Clooney.
  • George Clooney’s cameo in The Flash is just that, a cameo, and not an indication that he will take on the role of Batman in future films.

While many DC fans have eagerly been awaiting the release of The Flash, it’s tough to deny that many audience members are also seeing the film solely to view the return of Michael Keaton as Batman. A historic return that many fans never thought they’d see, and Keaton’s role in the film is far more than a nostalgic cameo. His Batman is a massive part of Barry Allen’s (Ezra Miller) journey, and he is instrumental in the fight against Zod (Michael Shannon). While Keaton’s version of Bruce Wayne does meet a bittersweet end, seeing the beloved actor take on the mantle of Batman again was a sight to behold.

The Flash is also the first live-action feature film ever to showcase not one, not two, but three different Bruce Waynes. Going into the film, audiences obviously already knew about Keaton’s significant return, as well as that Ben Affleck would still be playing his DCEU version of the Caped Crusader. The bombshell ending of The Flash also features one more surprising appearance of a third Bruce Wayne that is primed to stun audiences everywhere. At first glance, this seems like a fun little cameo to end the film on. On further inspection, is there a chance that this could be the first of many new casting developments in DC Films CEOs James Gunn and Peter Safran‘s new DC Universe?

The Flash Movie Poster

The Flash

Barry Allen uses his super speed to change the past, but his attempt to save his family creates a world without super heroes, forcing him to race for his life in order to save the future.

Release Date
June 16, 2023

Andres Muschietti

Ezra Miller, Michael Keaton, Sasha Calle

Superhero, Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Sci-Fi

Warner Bros

‘The Flash’ Resets the DC Universe With a New Bruce Wayne

Even though the overall message of The Flash seems to be that one cannot change the past without impacting the future, Barry Allen just can’t help himself from making one more change for the greater good. By placing the cans of tomatoes on the top shelf, the security footage of Henry Allen (Ron Livingston) that the DCEU’s Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) acquired earlier in the film now shows Henry’s face clearly. Thus, Henry’s alibi is confirmed, and he is finally exonerated for his crimes after two decades in prison.

It looks like Barry is finally going to get his happy ending, but the film has one more ace up its sleeve in the form of a massive surprise cameo. Barry gets a call from Bruce Wayne’s cellphone, who tells Barry that he’s pulling up to congratulate The Flash on his dad’s exoneration. When Bruce steps out of his limo, the CEO of Wayne Enterprises that we see is not Ben Affleck, not Michael Keaton, but is in fact, George Clooney. As long-time Batman fans will likely remember, Clooney played The Dark Knight in 1997’s Batman & Robin. The film ends with Clooney’s reintroduction to the DC franchise, but the appearance raises more than a few questions.

James Gunn Reveals George Clooney Won’t Return As the New Batman in the DCU

Clooney’s cameo appearance at the end of The Flash is, unfortunately, just a simple cameo appearance, as James Gunn has already revealed that Clooney will “absolutely not” be the new Batman. The whole sequence is largely played for laughs, with Barry even going as far as to yell “Who the f*ck is this guy?” It overall looks like a similar situation to the cameos we saw in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness with the members of the Illuminati, who were used more to provide fun fan service rather than be meaningful additions to the universe.

George Clooney Should be the DCU’s Batman in ‘The Brave and the Bold’

Batman: The Brave and the Bold

George Clooney’s appearance is nothing more than a fun cameo…but what if it wasn’t? After all, James Gunn did say that The Flash would “reset” the DC Cinematic Universe, and unless Barry goes back to change the timeline again, this would presumably mean that Clooney would remain as the Batman in this new DCU. Not to mention, Clooney’s role as an older and wiser Bruce Wayne does fit in the prospective Batman film that’s already been announced for the DCU.

James Gunn announced in January 2023 that the DCU’s Batman would get his first solo film in The Brave and the Bold, and will also be adapting the “Son of Batman” storyline from the comics. This famous arc largely centers around the fan-favorite character of Damian Wayne — the son of Bruce Wayne and Talia al Ghul as well as the grandson of the infamous Ra’s al Ghul. Prior to meeting his father and becoming the next incarnation of Robin, Damian spent most of his life training to become an unparalleled assassin, so he has a tough time adjusting to Batman’s “no killing” rule.

The project is still a few years away, but the story details already hint a lot about this version of Batman. For one, it implies that the Batman the film will follow will be an older and experienced Bruce Wayne and, more than likely, won’t be an origin story. In the comics, Damian is also the fifth individual to take on the title of Robin, following Dick Grayson, Jason Todd, Tim Drake, and Stephanie Brown, again indicating The Brave and the Bold will take place well into Batman’s crime-fighting career. We obviously don’t know how accurate to the comics the upcoming film will be, but Clooney’s age and placement in the timeline do match up with the storyline and would be a bold and welcome creative choice.

George Clooney Deserves Better Than Joel Schumacher’s ‘Batman’ Movies

Regardless of how brief Clooney’s appearance may be, it’s a surprise to be sure, but a welcome one. It’s somewhat of a redemption for the Ocean’s franchise star given that Batman & Robin is one of the most reviled Batman films ever made. Director Joel Schumacher‘s follow-up to Batman Forever (which recast Michael Keaton with Val Kilmer) recast the Bruce Wayne role yet again with George Clooney. Dressed in his bat-nippled suit and fighting alongside his trusty sidekick, Robin (Chris O’Donnell), the dynamic duo go toe-to-toe with a trio of iconic villains in Mr. Freeze (Arnold Schwarzenegger), Poison Ivy (Uma Thurman), and Bane (Jeep Swenson).

Though the film has its fans (and personally, I’d rather watch Batman & Robin any day of the week over Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice), it did not perform well with critics or audiences. The reasons vary from the cartoony and goofy tone being too much of a departure from the Tim Burton-directed films, all the way to the garish and corny production design and dialogue. Despite all of this, we will die on this hill and say proudly that George Clooney is a great Batman, and one who deserves a lot more love and attention. Yes, the Bat Nipples are rough and the Bat Credit Card is self-explanatory, but Clooney’s performance is honestly a perfect fit for the hero.

For starters, Clooney’s voice is perfect. It was the last voice until Robert Pattinson‘s The Batman that didn’t go nuts with a scratchy fake voice or a robot-modulated one. Clooney’s naturally deep voice just suits the character perfectly. Plus, Clooney nails some emotional moments that we didn’t see a ton of in Keaton or Kilmer’s films. With Alfred (Michael Gough) falling ill, we get a few moments where Clooney’s Bruce Wayne has a heart-to-heart with the butler who raised him, and they’re honestly some of the best moments in the original Burton-Schumacher saga.

The Flash is available to stream on Max in the U.S.

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