DC movie bosses voice support for Ezra Miller and ‘The Flash,’ sparking criticism from fans
Announced on Tuesday, the new DC movie slate introduces intriguing projects like Swamp Thing and The Authority alongside inevitable reboots for Batman and Superman. However, there’s still a question mark over some of the ongoing franchises—most notably The Flash, whose star Ezra Miller remains highly controversial.
Despite speculation about The Flash being shelved due to Miller’s legal issues, the new DC movie bosses Peter Safran and James Gunn are throwing their support behind the film. Speaking to the Hollywood Reporter, Safran said, “Ezra is completely committed to their recovery,” and that “in the last couple of months, it feels like they are making enormous progress.” Safran’s remarks left the door open for Miller to appear in future DC projects.
Meanwhile, Gunn described The Flash as “probably one of the greatest superhero movies ever made.” The film is now scheduled to come out in June.
Gunn and Safran’s comments soon earned pushback online, playing into criticisms that Warner Bros. is enabling and/or ignoring the impact of Miller’s behavior. Among the detractors was former Buffy and Angel star Charisma Carpenter, who previously spoke out about alleged abuse from Joss Whedon, voicing support for Justice League actor Ray Fisher during his disputes with Warner Bros. and Whedon.
From 2020 to 2022, Miller was involved in numerous high-profile incidents including strangling a woman at a bar, several arrests in Hawaii, an accusation of grooming a teenager, a burglary charge, and a report that they endangered a young family by exposing children to their firearms collection. A 12-year-old and their mother have also been granted a restraining order against Miller after Miller showed up at a neighbor’s house armed with a gun and “started screaming” in an enraged rant.
Later reports described Miller as having “messianic” delusions. For a while, it seemed entirely plausible that they could face jail time before The Flash came out—yet Warner Bros. continued to film Flash reshoots with Miller throughout the summer of 2022.
In August 2022, Miller shared a public apology for their erratic behavior, explaining that they were now seeking treatment for “complex mental health issues.” This overlapped with reports that Warner Bros. was strategizing ways to rescue The Flash‘s reputation, including the possibility that Miller could rehabilitate their image in time to help promote the movie.
Warner Bros.’ support of The Flash continues to spark criticism, in part because it invites comparisons to the way Hollywood treats other controversial stars like Will Smith—and how Warner Bros. is managing other DC properties. Many DC fans drew comparisons with the studio’s decision to dump the scandal-free Batgirl movie, and with Safran and Gunn’s unpopular plan to recast Henry Cavill as Superman.
Attempting to shore up a lucrative franchise, Safran and Gunn seem keen to reframe this situation as a mental health recovery narrative. But it’s impossible to simplify Miller’s history in those terms. Their recovery is a personal issue, whereas their actions are a public scandal that caused real harm and legal repercussions. Warner Bros. can’t actually force people to accept Miller as a sympathetic figure—especially when this message is so conveniently timed with The Flash’s promotional cycle.
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*First Published: Feb 1, 2023, 10:57 am CST
Gavia Baker-Whitelaw is a staff writer at the Daily Dot, covering geek culture and fandom. Specializing in sci-fi movies and superheroes, she also appears as a film and TV critic on BBC radio. Elsewhere, she co-hosts the pop culture podcast Overinvested. Follow her on Twitter: @Hello_Tailor