The Flash movie is being setup as a pivotal installment of DC's movie universe - one that will help reset the fractured continuity of the franchise. The Flash will see Ezra Miller's Barry Allen/Flash caught up in a Back to the Future-style conundrum after selfishly altering the past to save his mother. The distortion in time will see Barry meeting an alternate version of the Batman he knows (Ben Affleck) - this one played by Batman (1989) star Michael Keaton. Well, Flash director Andy Muschietti's latest tease of Keaton's Batman comes with some clear reference to Watchmen, and that has DC fans now asking a key question:
Is The Flash movie taking elements of Watchmen: Doomsday Clock and mashing them up with DC's Flashpoint story arc?
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As you can see above, Andy Muschietti's Batman teaser for The Flash shows Keaton's iconic Batman '89 insignia with one corner of it spattered in blood. A lot of fans see it as a play on the classic Watchmen logo, which is a smiley face with one corner spattered in blood. The question of why Any Muschietti would invoke such imagery quickly leads to one conclusion: The Flash will be borrowing elements of Watchmen sequel Doomsday Clock for its story.
Doomsday Clock was a limited series that ran from 2017 - 2019 in DC Comics. The ambitious storyline by writer Geoff Johns and artist Gary Frank sought to clean up DC Comics continuity, which had been complicated by reboot events like Flashpoint and the New 52, DC Rebirth, and further complicated by Watchmen's uncertain place in DC canon. Doomsday Clock picks up yeas after the events of Watchmen, as that universe ends, save for a handful of characters who travel into the main DC universe in a search for Dr. Manhattan. The series of events (Watchmen encountering and affecting their DC hero/villain counterparts) ultimately leads to a cosmic event where Manhattan destroys and recreates the entire DC multiverse, with much clearer lines of continuity set in place.
Do we expect to see Watchmen characters appearing in The Flash movie? Not so much. However, there is plenty of room for the movie to borrow certain elements from Doomsday Clock. One is the idea of individuals like Batman and/or Lex Luthor recognize that their anomalies in the timeline (like Barry Allen) that need to be hunted down, or the threat of universes ending due to some inescapable fatalistic event. Another big one is the heady concept of the DC Universe being a Metaverse of constant change, wherein Superman and his origin story are the centers of that Metaverse, inspiring the DC Multiverse that develops from it.
In simpler terms: Doomsday Clock is the other big DC alternate timelines story arc from the last decade, and a bookend to the multiverse events Barry Allen set in motion during Flashpoint. It would make a certain amount of good sense if Andy Muschietti and writer Christina Hodson made good on the benefit of being able to see the entire continuity arc DC Comics stumbled through during the 2010s, and use that perspective to make a much more concise and clear story. In the end, the real goal of The Flash movie is much the same as Doomsday Clock: clean-up some messy DC continuity, while opening the door to an exciting new version of the DC Multiverse that new fans can jump into.
The Flash will be in theaters on November 4, 2022.