September 30, 2022

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Travel Finishes First

Snyder’s Flash Time Travel Proves How Badly WB Messed Up

7 min read

The Flash’s time-travel sequence in Zack Snyder’s Justice League won the Oscars Cheer Moment as the 94th Academy Awards, highlighting the studio’s botched handling of the DCEU film more than ever. The release of the 2017 theatrical version of Justice League would spark a re-litigation of the making of a major superhero movie the likes of which has never been seen before. Justice League, extensively reshot by Joss Whedon after Snyder departed following a family tragedy, would ultimately become a major theatrical disappointment.

While that’d be enough of a shocker for the first ever big-screen Justice League movie, Snyder’s fans rallied online for the release of his cut of the film. Following its eventual announcement in May 2020, the Snyder Cut hit HBO Max on March 18, 2021. Already understood to be a vastly different movie from its 2017 counterpart, the Snyder Cut’s final showdown between the League and Steppenwolf (Ciarán Hinds) finally showcased the time-travel powers of The Flash (Ezra Miller).

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RELATED: How Zack Snyder’s Justice League Redeems Every Character

This scene would later become one of the nominees for the newly created Oscars Cheer Moment category, which was determined by online fan votes. Putting aside Will Smith’s infamous onstage altercation with Chris Rock as the night’s most talked-about moment, the Snyder Cut getting Oscar attention is even more significant than it seems at face value. In Zack Snyder’s Justice League showing up at the Academy Awards, even in the context of an entirely fan-voted poll, it continues to shine a bright light on the major mistakes Warner Bros. made with the film.


Justice League 2017 Has A Different (& Inferior) Flash Ending


In the retooled version of Justice League that hit theaters, Barry is tasked with getting civilians to safety in the mostly abandoned Russian town where the final battle is set. As Barry speeds off, the newly resurrected and badly CGI mustache-free Superman (Henry Cavill) flies up to him, jokingly remarking, “Slowpoke.” Barry and Clark then turn their rescue mission into a race, with The Flash finding the Russian family seen through the film and pushing them to safety. After seeing Superman carry an entire apartment complex out of harm’s way, The Flash bids the Russian family farewell with “Dostoevsky!” before rejoining the League’s fight with Steppenwolf.


As one area where Barry Allen’s awkward running style (seen only in Justice League‘s theatrical cut) rears its head, it’s a rather small-scale use of the Scarlet Speedster’s powers. The presence of the Russian family itself also feels implausible, with the surrounding area clearly meant to appear abandoned. It wasn’t until the Snyder Cut finally arrived in 2021 that the actual plans for Barry’s big moment of heroism were finally seen. This ending saw Barry reversing time in his lightspeed exceeding last-minute save to project the Justice League’s tech-powered Cyborg (Ray Fisher) into the Mother Boxes to prevent the Unity. This ending made it clear that Justice League‘s ending had been massively downgraded in the reshoots. The reasoning behind it also simply made the change look even worse.


WB Seemingly Opposed Barry’s Time-Travel In Justice League


Zack Snyder Teases Flash Time Travel In Justice League

Time-travel is one of the signature abilities of The Flash, and was given a big tease in Barry’s visit to the Batcave from the Knightmare future in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Despite this, visual effects supervisor John “DJ” Des Jardin would commented in an interview that Warner Bros. responded to The Flash’s time-travel with perplexity, stating, “They were just like ‘I don’t understand this.‘ Des Jardin also stated that Barry’s time-travel “was one of the first things they threw out” after Snyder’s departure from the film (via YouTube). Snyder himself also stated during the Snyder Cut press tour that Warner Bros. didn’t like Barry’s time-travel powers.


RELATED: Justice League: Snyder Cut’s Superman CGI Is The Opposite Of 2017’s

This isn’t the first time WB executives displayed an apparent lack of understanding of core characteristics of major DC characters during Snyder’s tenure. Man of Steel screenwriter David S. Goyer revealed in 2021 that studio executives balked at the destruction of the Kryptonian scout ship, asking how Superman would be able to get home to his destroyed homeworld of Krypton. In the case of Barry’s time-travel powers, the lack of understanding of an essential trait of The Flash would lead to a much more toothless ending for Barry. As was later seen in Zack Snyder’s Justice League, Barry’s climactic hero moment tapping into his time-travel powers had all the impact that the theatrical version lacked.

Why The Flash’s Time Travel In Zack Snyder’s Justice League Is So Good


Flash entering the Speed Force in Zack Snyder Justice Leage

After Barry first appeared via time-travel in Batman v Superman‘s Knightmare sequence, it was built up significantly in Zack Snyder’s Justice League. As Barry explains during the League’s resurrection of Superman, approaching the speed of light causes him to reverse time. While Barry describes not broaching time-travel as a self-imposed rule on his part, the slight time-reversal while bringing Superman sets up another tease of his time-travel abilities. Barry having to break the rule in the Snyder Cut’s climax finally pays off the teases of his time-travel in full, giving viewers a crowd-pleasing finale of The Flash sprinting through the Speed Force.


Barry’s heroic act of time-travel also links to his arc of the wrongful imprisonment of his father Henry (Billy Crudup). Fully aware of what a last-ditch effort he’s making in stopping Steppenwolf and the arriving overlord of Apokolips Darkseid (Ray Porter), Barry says, “Dad, whatever happens, I just want you to know, your kid was one of them, Dad. One of the best of the best.” As the destruction of the world literally rewinds around him, Barry’s second line, “Make your own future. Make your own past, and it’s all right now,” extols Barry holding a very layered and profound view of time itself. With Barry, like the rest of the Justice League, playing a specific role in the final battle, the Snyder Cut’s ending shows that even Barry Allen’s rules are sometimes meant to be broken.

The Snyder Cut’s Oscars Fan Vote Win Makes WB’s Justice League Mistakes Worse


The Flash Zack Snyders Justice League final sprint pic

Despite the declarations by Warner Bros. of Zack Snyder’s Justice League being a “storytelling cul-de-sac,” the persistence of fans is ensuring that Warner Bros. can’t escape the Snyder Cut. While social media trends and #RestoreTheSnyderVerse banners flown by planes (including one over the Oscars) are well associated with Snyder’s fanbase by this point, the film actually making it to the Academy Awards puts it in a whole new ballpark. The Oscars Cheer Moment award, determined by the Oscars website and Twitter votes, was a format almost tailor-made for the methods that eventually got the Snyder Cut released. The difference is that it enabled a movie whose existence is still a polarizing topic to be showcased during the biggest night of the film industry.


RELATED: How Fast Can The Flash Run? Barry’s Snyder Cut Powers Explained

The Snyder Cut’s unique circumstances also make its Oscar win one that brings the spotlight back to WB’s decision to revamp the film in 2017. The final product of the reshoots was a failed Justice League movie that threw related DC plans into chaos, spawned further controversy over Joss Whedon’s on-set behavior, and which more or less has come to stand as an Alan Smithee film in all but name. Absent the calls of #ReleaseTheSnyderCut by fans, fueled by Snyder’s social media teases, one of if not the most acclaimed live-action moment for The Flash might never have seen the light of day. Zack Snyder’s Justice League winning the Oscars Cheer Moment didn’t simply provide a reminder of how badly Warner Bros. had mismanaged the film, but did so in the most mainstream venue possible.

With the Snyder Cut having been out of sight for so long, just getting the film released at all was a historic event. Having both versions of Justice League available to compare and contrast finally made clear how drastically the film had been changed and that doing so hadn’t been for the better. With Zack Snyder’s Justice League having taken home a win from the first Oscars Cheer Moment, Warner Bros.’ mistake was shown for the bad call that it was on the grandest scale yet – and surely made the #RestoreTheSnyderVerse push that much stronger.

NEXT: The Snyder Cut Proves WB Killed Their Best Chance to Compete With Marvel


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