Writer and producer Greg Berlanti has certainly gotten a foothold on DC Comics' movie properties. Having produced and co-written the upcoming Green Lantern film, a project which seems to evoke tons of confidence by the folks over at DC, he's now working on the treatment for the emerald crusader's sequel film(s.) However, another project on his radar that may prove the most intriguing of all, is the upcoming film revival of the iconic crimson speedster The Flash. In an interview with SuperHeroHype, Berlanti discusses the direction they wish to take the film, which current projections have hitting around 2013. And just to give you a small indication as to what occupies the creative team's thinking these days, how do Se7en and The Silence of the Lambs sound as a sources of inspiration?
The script for the long-discussed Flash project will finally come into being when Michael Green and Marc Guggenheim complete the script based on the treatment by Berlanti and co. While still a little under a year away from its release, the first Green Lantern film seems to have made an indelible impression on the higher-ups over at DC, and in a move that's either hasty or brilliant, they've already gotten to work on a sequel -- and to the detriment of Marvel's Deadpool, possibly a third film. With all the movement over at Marvel Studios and its string of Avengers-related films, it's clear that DC wants to have a movie universe of its own to counter. Taking a cue from the success of The Dark Knight and the stylistic approach of Green Lantern, DC will try to carve a distinctive niche for The Flash. According to Berlanti:
"'GL' is always a bit lighter than that on earth but mixed with a twinge of the space opera, which has its own epic qualities to it. 'Flash' as we're getting into it is interesting, too. Though Barry Allen was a little lighter in the comic, I think because of the nature that he was a CSI and moved in this world of crime before this stuff happened. I think it's tonally somewhere in between 'GL' and 'Dark Knight.' It's actually a little bit darker than when we were working on ('GL'), because you're dealing with somebody who is already a crimefighter in a world of those kinds of criminals and that kind of murder and homicide. I find you talk a lot about different films when you're working on a film, and we spend a lot more time talking about 'Se7en' or 'The Silence of the Lambs' as we construct that part of Barry's world, then I thought when we got into it. It helps balance a guy in a red suit who runs really fast."
Utilizing the crime scene investigator career of Flash's alter ego Barry Allen, it seems that the film will draw on the dark, gritty elements of realistically-styled criminals, mixed with the over-the-top red jumpsuit-wearing character from comic fantasy. While it does seem an odd mix, it could have some nice potential with the ultimate payoff of seeing not weird gimpy costumed criminals, but realistic psychotic killers getting served justice from this overwhelming, heroic, supernatural red-blur.
According to Berlanti, despite the darker turn, their thinking won't be restricted to the realistic and gritty. In fact, they seem to be open to many comic-friendly elements such as the acknowledgment of the alternate realities of the Multiverse that was the centerpiece of DC's watershed moment in 1985's Crisis on Infinite Earths. (A storyline, as it so happens, where Barry Allen met a grisly demise, only to be properly resurrected in recent years.) As Berlanti states:
"A third thing I'd throw at you is alternate dimensions, so it's true that we want to find the things that make it… With 'GL,' we used to say there's a space opera component and then there's the down on earth. In 'The Flash,' there's the sci-fi component and there's the crime component and it's fitting those two things together, and the sci-fi thing, we obviously want to nail that and honor that and do that in a way that feels visceral and real and cool and probably more in the tone of 'The Matrix" films or things like that. I always think of 'The Flash' stories where he met Jay Garrick and knows there was Earth Prime and things like that. There's an avenue for these films to broaden the DC Film Universe in that way, so that's the hope."
It presents quite an interesting mix. We've certainly had our share of the gritty, realistic interpretation of comic properties, and for the most part, they haven't been successful. However, from what's being described of The Flash, it's clear that the creative minds recognize that there is something about the character of Flash that has to be compensated for in order to make the film a viable contender. While he's one of DC's most recognizable characters, he's hardly A-list material and there has to be some kind of "catch" to get casual audiences excited about the film, while maintaining its comic identity. When Tim Burton and later Christopher Nolan reinvented Batman, this was easy enough because of the brilliant work existing in comics to bring back the "dark" for the Dark Knight. The Flash doesn't have the luxury of having large volumes of those kind of radical reinventions, but Geoff Johns' The Flash: Rebirth seems as good a place as any to start. On where they are right now, Berlanti states:
"When we have the script together, I'll probably sit down with Warner Bros. and want to decide what's best for that movie. It's so hard when you're working on the material, the script too, because if I thought about it just as a director I would freak myself out but when I think about it just as a writer, we try so many different things. It's like, 'I don't even know how we're going to do that but what if we did this or what if we showed this?' It's more freeing and liberating so I haven't really thought beyond the script right now for it."
So, a substantive look at the film's themes are still likely a long time away. However, with the field of comic book films looking to be obscenely competitive in the next few years, it's encouraging to hear that they're thinking outside the box.
How does the prospect of a dark, gritty film version of The Flash sound to you?