Although movie audiences got to discover the multiverse in the Marvel Cinematic Universe thanks to Dr. Strange and Spider-Man series, as well as Sony’s animated Spider-Verse, but the original superhero multiverse was discovered by the Flash back in 1961… which makes it all the more fitting that DC’s cinematic multiverse was finally fully unveiled in this summer’s big-screen movie The Flash.
With multiverses come alternate versions of familiar characters, and Warner Bros is in a unique position to play with alternate versions. DC Comics has a long history in cinema spanning over 70 years, resulting in a large pool to draw from. The Flash has its fair share of appearances including some deep cuts as well. With the movie now streaming on Max, we breakdown all the different superheroes from the past that show up.Spoilers for The Flash ahead!
Superman, George Reeves (1951, 1952-58)
George Reeves is the OG when it comes to actors playing DC Comic characters on screen. He played Superman in the movie Superman and the Mole Men which served as a backdoor pilot for the television series Adventures of Superman. George Reeves would then continue the role on the show for six seasons; two in black and white and four in color.
Batman, Adam West (1966-1968)
The Batman TV show from the '60s was known for its campiness, lively music, and colorful style. Adam West starred in the titular role where he teamed with Burt Ward's Robin to fight crime in Gotham City against an extensive gallery of rogues. West even starred in a film that released in between the first and second seasons of the series.
Superman, Christopher Reeves (1978, 1980, 1983, 1987)
When it comes to superhero casting, Christopher Reeves is arguably one of the best. He brought poise, a reserved strength, compassion, and a little humor to his Superman. The actor was so well suited for the role that even Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster responded positively to the performance. Christopher Reeves would play the Man of Steel in Superman, Superman II, Superman III, and Superman IV: The Quest for Peace.
Supergirl, Helen Slater (1984)
Shared cinematic universes were already a thing in the '80s. Due to the success of Christopher Reeves's Superman films, Superman received a spinoff in the form of Supergirl. Helen Slater stepped into the role of Superman's cousin, Kara Zor-El, who travels to Earth to retrieve a powerful item called the Omegahedron from the evil clutches of the witch named Selena.
Batman, Michael Keaton (1989, 1992)
As soon as the news first broke that Michael Keaton would be making a return as the Caped Crusader, fans were excited for Keaton to appear in the new The Flash movie. After all, the actor ushered in the live action DC Comics era for Warner Bros. with his classic depiction of Batman. Keaton's version, who also appears in the sequel Batman Returns, went back to its darker roots, and helped establish the modern day superhero genre.
Batman, George Clooney (1997)
By the time George Clooney assumed the role of Batman in Batman & Robin, filmmaker Joel Schumacher was ready to take the franchise in a more over-the-top direction with an emphasis towards merchandising. Accordingly, Clooney brought a lighter interpretation to the character. In addition, Clooney's Batman became notorious for the nipples on the Batsuit.
Superman, Nicolas Cage (1998)
Superman Lives was meant to be a film released during the 60th anniversary of the character's debut in Action Comics. The script was written by Kevin Smith and would be an entirely new take based off of the recommendations of producer Jon Peters. Nicolas Cage, a huge comic book fan, signed on for the lead role, but creative disagreements and a projected bloated budget led to the movie being abandoned.
Superman, Henry Cavill (2013, 2016, 2017, 2022)
Warner Bros' attempt at creating a shared cinematic universe began with Man of Steel, and director Zack Snyder chose Henry Cavill for his Superman. Cavill would star in the follow-up movie Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and the team-up movie Justice League. As the DC cinematic universe continued (and dwindled), there weren't new spaces for Superman to make an appearance. Dwayne Johnson petitioned hard for Cavill to appear in Black Adam, which Cavill did, but the actor's return to the DCEU was short lived. Days after Black Adam's release, James Gunn and Peter Safran were named the heads of the newly formed DC Studios, and they had their own plans for superman which did not involve Cavill.
The Flash – Jay Garrick, unknown actor (2015-16)
Jay Garrick's character is the only variant that doesn't have any movie ties. That might be because there are no other live-action cinematic versions of the Flash. While fans originally believed that the actor playing Jay Garrick was Teddy Sears, who appeared in the second season of CW's The Flash, Sears has since confirmed that he did not film for this movie. TVLine has sources who have confirmed that no archival footage of Sears was used in the film and that the role was played by what TVLine calls "no actor of note."
Batman, Ben Affleck (2016, 2016, 2017)
Though there was some backlash to casting Ben Affleck as Batman in the DCEU, Affleck eventually won over fans in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Critics found his performance one of the high points of the film. During a mid-credit scene in Suicide Squad, Batman continued his pursuit of creating a metahuman team which culminated in Justice League and led to another film appearance of "Batfleck."
Wonder Woman, Gal Gadot (2016, 2017, 2017, 2020, 2023)
Gal Gadot brought much-needed light heartedness to the DCEU. After forming the Trinity on screen in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, she really broke out in her solo movie Wonder Woman, which is one of the more critically acclaimed films in the universe. After appearances in Justice League and Wonder Woman 1984, Gadot showed up at the end of Shazam! Fury of the Gods.
The Flash, Ezra Miller (2016, 2016, 2017, 2019, 2022)
Ezra Miller experienced a gradual build with their introduction to the DCEU. They made brief appearances in Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad to tease their greater involvement in Justice League. Miller also showed up on TV in The Flash's 'Crisis on Infinite Earths' crossover event, a rare instance where the DCEU and Arrowverse coexisted, and in the season finale of Peacemaker when the Justice League arrive too late to stop the Butterfly threat.
Aquaman, Jason Momoa (2016, 2017, 2018, 2023)
Like Miller, Jason Momoa was initially introduced in Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, then had a larger role in Justice League. Momoa moved from ensemble to lead in Aquaman where the hero, representing both the land and the water, races against the clock on a quest to prevent war between Atlantis and the surface world. Momoa has good comedic chemistry with Miller in their scene in Peacemaker. You can catch him later this year in Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom
The Flash – younger, Ezra Miller (2023)
The younger version of The Flash in the film is from an alternate timeline where Barry Allen's mother survives. Younger Barry gains his speedster abilities in a similar fashion to older Barry, but as a result, the older Barry loses his powers. Since younger Barry is new to the superhero game (and lacks the trauma that the older Barry is steeped in), he is overly enthusiastic and has the real Barry serve as his guide as he becomes familiar with the Speed Force.
The Flash – older, Ezra Miller (2023)
This Flash is an older version of the alternate timeline Barry in the movie. He becomes obsessed with finding an outcome where Batman and Supergirl survive the battle with Zod, and spends a lifetime of attempting to change the timeline without success. His monstrous, rocky appearance is due to the shrapnel that has accumulated on his body after each failed attempt to change in the past. This Flash is responsible for knocking original Barry out of the timestream to ensure his origin.
Supergirl, Sasha Calle (2023)
Supergirl from The Flash is initially imprisoned deep underground in Eastern Europe. She is brought to the surface by the Barrys and Keaton's Batman where she regains her powers while absorbing solar energy. Supergirl initially abandons the heroes before they can confront General Zod, but returns to help original Barry regain his powers.