While Marvel has taken center stage when it comes to superhero movie universes, DC has been making strides in creating its own equally powerful superhero film collection. After the failure of the Justice League movie, where DC was accused of rushing to have an Avengers-style series without paying its dues, DC has decided to give each superhero their own standalone film to better build up its own superhero universe.
One of those superheroes getting their own film is The Flash.
Just like The Batman and The Joker (both of which were highly regarded), The Flash aka Barry Allen appears to be taking a more serious route rather than copy the zinger-filled, goofy Marvel movie feel. The upcoming Flash film looks to be about time travel, an important theme throughout the Flash’s comics. This time, the speedy superhero is traveling through time to prevent his mother from being killed, accidentally creating a multiverse in the process.
While it’s already exciting to see The Flash get his first standalone film, it’s even more exciting that it’s the first Jewish superhero to get their own movie.
The Flash isn’t Jewish in the comics, but the DCEU version of the Flash is confirmed to be one of the first Jewish superheroes to appear onscreen (anti-hero Magneto comes to mind). During the (pretty cursed) 2017 Justice League movie, Flash calls himself a “very attractive Jewish boy” when he first meets Batman.
What’s interesting is that this wasn’t initially the plan. The Flash isn’t Jewish in the comics — and he wasn’t really going to be Jewish in the films as well. But actor Ezra Miller actually ad-libbed that line to Batman about being Jewish and the director decided to keep it in. From there, Miller added a lot of Jewishness to the Flash, giving him a bit more Jewish flair in his dialogue and mannerisms, and talking about not really fitting in with the rest of the heroes when talking with Cyborg, a black superhero in the Justice League.
A Washington Post article at the time of the film’s release found the Flash’s portrayal a bit troubling, stating that it seemed to play into the stereotype that Jews are often nerds or wimpy since Flash was one of the less heroic superheroes on the team. He wasn’t really an “action star” as much as some of the other Justice League heroes.
It should be noted, however, that this character was not originally meant to be Jewish and his storyline — whether Jewish or not — was that of a young hero coming into his powers. The upcoming film will most likely dive deeper into this storyline and also show Flash getting more confident with himself, his powers, and eventually his role in the Justice League. We may also get to see more of Miller’s interpretation of Flash, seeing more of his Jewishness portrayed in his backstory, family, dialogue, and personality.
This is something that has never been explored before. While some DC superheroes (Green Lantern, Harley Quinn, Batwoman) and actors (Gal Gadot) are Jewish, that has not been part of their character at all. It never plays a part in their identity or storyline. Sometimes it’s not even mentioned at all.
Over at Marvel, there is Magneto, of course — an X-Men anti-hero whose backstory includes surviving the Holocaust. While an emotional storyline, it’s also often the only one that Jewish teens get to see. Many Jewish nerds have rejoiced at Flash’s refreshing portrayal of Jewishness — one that is not defined by tragedy but is just who he is.
The fact that the Flash’s 2023 film will be the first Jewish superhero to star in a movie is quite crazy when you realize that most of the writers behind the DC universe are Jewish, including comic book innovator and icon Jack Kirby, Batman creators Bob Kane and Bill Finger, and Superman creator Jerry Siegel. Despite these men being Jewish, there weren’t many openly Jewish or Jewish-focused superheroes. This is most likely due to the antisemitism that was rampant in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s. This was possibly due to the comics wanting to appeal to a wider audience and get their messages across in a more subtle manner.
Whatever the reason, Jewishness was not often explored, mentioned, or represented in the DC superhero universe. This makes the upcoming Flash movie one of the most anticipated for me and many other Jews that want to relate to a larger-than-life superhero on the big screen. Despite not being a huge fan of Miller outside of film, I commend him for so proudly proclaiming his Jewishness in the Justice League and am hoping there is more of that to come in The Flash.