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  • Writer's pictureAaron Fonseca

The Flash's Ending, Explained

The following contains spoilers for The Flash, now playing in theaters.

The Flash is now playing in theaters, and its director, Andy Muschietti, lives up to the ambitious scope he touted. In The Flash, Barry Allen (Ezra Miller) travels through time similar to DC's Flashpoint (by Geoff Johns and Andy Kubert) so he can save his mother. Unfortunately, tinkering with the timeline has frayed the Multiverse, endangering various realities.

On top of that, Barry creates a new world where General Zod (Michael Shannon) has the upper-hand. It leaves Barry Prime and the Alt-Barry he finds trying to figure how to save the timeline and ensure their mother, Nora, lives. This leads to a spectacle-filled ending, and it's one that teaches the Scarlet Speedsters the ultimate lesson.

The Flash Reveals Time Cannot Be Altered

The Barrys work with Sasha Calle's Supergirl and, of course, Michael Keaton's Batman to engage Zod's forces. However, Kara and Bruce keep dying, which leads to Alt-Barry constantly rushing back in time. But in the chronosphere, Barry Prime realizes each branched timeline ends with their deaths. They're just creating a cache of crushed realities that leads to the inevitable, which is why Barry Prime wants to stop.

Since his mother is still alive, Alt-Barry doesn't want Barry Prime to fix things, effectively erasing him and ensuring Nora dies. It leads to them confronting each other, only for the Dark Flash in his Kryptonian suit to appear. This being confirms he wants Alt-Barry to keep wreaking havoc, and that the timestream must be tampered with some more until a proper solution is found to keep Nora alive.

The Flash Confirms Dark Flash is Alt-Barry

The twist is, this Dark Flash is the Alt-Barry who keeps going back in time, getting wounded by Kryptonian weapons, and turning into this monster. He doesn't care how many worlds die, admitting he's been experimenting for years on perfecting the mission the Barrys undertook. In fact, he's the one who first knocked Barry Prime out the chronosphere at the start of the movie. This led to Barry powering up Alt-Barry, which means Dark Flash needed Barry Prime to create himself.

It's been a closed time loop all along. As Alt-Barry struggles to reconcile what he's meant to be, they all see various worlds being destroyed. They crash into each other, with incursions killing off Nicolas Cage's Superman, Christopher Reeve's Man of Steel, Helen Slater's Supergirl and many more DC Elseworlds across film and TV. But when Dark Barry tries to kill Barry Prime (believing it's all worth the sacrifice), Alt-Barry jumps in front. He takes the blade and dies, removing Dark Flash from existence, and asking the original Barry to create a happy ending.

The Flash Makes a Heartbreaking Play

Barry decides not to waste the opportunity now that all obstacles have been removed. As such, he undoes the work from the first act where he ensured Nora never forgot a tomato can at the grocery. Once she had this, his father, Henry, wouldn't leave home, and she wouldn't be killed. However, Barry watches himself slip the can in, only to then remove it after the first Flash leaves.

It's one of DC's most tragic sequences. The woman consoles him, not realizing he's the older version of her son. All he lets her know is he's missing his mother. In the process, he gets to hug her one last time, letting her know when the Speed Force stops the temporal flow that he will forever love her. He then departs, broken over how he's doomed Nora. Still, while he resigns her to this fate, Barry heals. He learned through Keaton's Batman and Ben Affleck's Batman, to carry his emotional scars. And let the grief and trauma pave the way towards acceptance and a better future.

The Flash Saves Henry Allen

However, Barry is able to get one parent back when he mends the timeline. He submits evidence showing his father was at the grocery when Nora was murdered. The footage in the past didn't show Henry's face as the camera was angled away from the man. But before Barry left his mother, he changed the angle in the past, knowing it would capture his father and exonerate him years later.

Thus, Barry has altered time, but without any butterfly effect. The footage frees Henry, helping Barry move on. He has finally saved his dad. As a bonus, Iris West ditches her reporter's instinct, wanting to start up a romance with Barry after they crushed on each other in college. This proves to Barry he made the right choice and that all he needed was hope -- something Kara reminded him of. All's well that ends well, as Barry embraces what's to come, believing there are no ripple effects.

The Flash Teases an Unstable DCU Future

The final scene has George Clooney's Bruce Wayne pulling up to congratulate Barry. The Flash is stunned because he was expecting Ben Affleck's Batman, indicating the timeline has been changed once more. The movie ends with Barry comically wondering what the heck's going on, though it remains vague what exactly has been reset.

Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman made a cameo earlier to help Barry and Affleck's Bruce, so it's unknown if she's gone. Plus, Superman was seen at a volcano site when natural disaster struck in Guatemala. However, it's vague what happened to him. It's unknown if Clooney will be the older Batman in The Brave and the Bold, or if that's just a cheeky cameo for nostalgia’s sake. It's also unknown what Barry will do once he realizes he's possibly erased other characters by accident. As such, it leaves room for James Gunn and Peter Safran to pick and choose what and who they will be using moving forward.

Only time will tell, and maybe answers will be provided in films already set to debut. This includes Blue Beetle and James Wan's Aquaman sequel, where there's a chance The Flash appears to survey the damage done. But for those expecting a hard reset in The Flash's ending, it never happens. This means the future of the DCU is just as uncertain as when Diana appeared in Shazam! Fury of the Gods, and when Billy Batson got recruited by Task Force X. Ultimately, a lot more needs to be revealed to reconcile this film to the new slate of movies. What is certain, however, is that Barry now understands consequences the consequences of time travel.

See Barry's time-hopping shenanigans unfold in The Flash, now playing in theaters.

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