This article contains major spoilers for The Flash.
After so many delays, controversies, and false starts, WB’s latest DC extravaganza has finally hit the big screen. Yes, The Flash is easily the studio’s most ambitious DCEU installment to date, especially when it comes the sheer amount of comic book nerdiness packed into this movie.
Barry Allen’s multiverse-shattering adventures not only brings back most of the Justice League but also Michael Keaton’s Batman and all the Burtonverse references that come with it. And there are so many more easter eggs to be found in the film’s two-and-a-half-hour runtime, including quite a few that even The Flash‘s very spoiler-y marketing hasn’t yet revealed.
If you’ve watched the movie and want to nerd out some more, we’ve put together our list of the best, biggest, and our very favorite easter eggs in The Flash…
George Clooney’s Batman Returns!!!
Let’s start with what’s arguably the biggest surprise of the entire movie: the return of George Clooney as Batman — or at least his suave Bruce Wayne from the much maligned (but slightly more fondly remembered now) Batman & Robin. It’s long been argued (including by this very site) that Clooney was a very ill-fit for the cape and cowl at the time, especially in Joel Schumacher’s take on the character, which required a leading man comfortable with gags and slapstick, something the future Hollywood icon was not known for in ’97. But he’s perfect for The Flash‘s final and very best punchline.
“Who the fuck are you?” a shocked Barry asks when it’s Clooney that meets him outside of the courthouse instead of the DCEU Bruce played by Ben Affleck. Clooney’s straight-faced retort just before the screen cuts to black — “Barry, what is wrong with you?” — is pure gold. At least, in this Bruce’s mind, Clooney never left!
Dark Flash and Flashpoint
Much of the movie’s setup — Barry racing to the past to prevent his mother’s murder and his father’s imprisonment — is heavily influenced by the DC comic Flashpoint by Geoff Johns and Andy Kubert. Like in the film, Barry’s actions in the past have grave consequences for the future of the DC timeline, but they’re so vastly different in the comic that it would take all day to explain all the timey-wimey differences. That said, like in the movie, Barry’s actions very explicitly change Batman.
All the time traveling in the movie by both Barrys also results in the creation of the Dark Flash, a future version of the younger Barry (we know this is confusing) who tried to save Batman and Supergirl during their fight with General Zod so many times that he was transformed into an insane monster. While this version of Dark Flash is technically an original character created for this movie, he is obviously meant to nod to the hero’s long history of anti-Flash rivals, such as Reverse-Flash, Zoom, Black Flash, Savitar, Godspeed, and yes, an unrelated Dark Flash from the comics.
Michael Keaton’s Batsuit History
The Flash gets absolutely nuts when it comes to filling in the blanks for Michael Keaton’s Batman. A lot has happened since we last saw this version of the Dark Knight in Batman Returns over 30 years ago. For one thing, this Batman apparently succeeded in making Gotham City one of the safest places on the planet, meaning a retired Bruce can sit back in his decaying mansion, get drunk, listen to old records, and make pasta. But thanks to one specific scene in the film, we also know so much more happened in between.
When Keaton finally decides to help the Barrys find Superman and stop Zod, he heads to his secret vault of Batsuits, giving us our first look at a menagerie of costumes we never saw in the Tim Burton movies. Displayed in the vault are an underwater suit, a blue and gray suit meant to nod to the Bronze Age comics, a Knightmare-like getup with goggles, the damaged suit from the 1989 movie, and what looks like a prototype costume akin to the character’s Golden Age, complete with holsters for his grapple guns. We surmise the latter may even nod to this Batman’s own origin, which we never saw on screen despite Keaton’s own wishes.
Jack Nicholson’s Joker Has the Last Laugh
Lest you think WB wouldn’t include at least one nod to the Joker in this easter egg fiesta, The Flash not only references Jack Nicholson’s Clown Prince of Crime but even brings back his very creepy laughing pouch, the same one Commissioner Gordon pulled off the Joker’s corpse at the end of Batman ’89.
We learn that Keaton’s Bruce actually kept the Joker’s final gag as some kind of grotesque trophy in the Batcave. It’s pretty disturbing when you think about it, but Keaton’s Batman has always been the weirdest of all the big screen versions. It tracks that he’d keep a souvenir to commemorate his dance with Jack Napier, the psychopath who murdered his parents and created him.
The Batmobile From Batman ’89 (And a New Batwing)
We’ve known since the trailers that Barry’s over-eager alternate timeline doppelganger would eventually uncover Keaton’s classic Batmobile inside the old Batcave. What a treat to see Batman’s slick ride back in the flesh (or steel), even if we don’t get to actually see it in action in the film. We’re left to wonder if his whip even runs anymore.
That said, we do get to spend lots of time inside the cockpit of a brand-new, much more spacious Batwing with a few surprise tricks up its sleeve. While the original Batwing from Batman ’89 was more of a one-man jet fighter, the new plane is designed to carry multiple passengers and for covert missions where Batman has to glide down from the sky into enemy territory. Too bad the plane always blows up in the final battle, no matter how many times Dark Flash tries to change the outcome.
Batman Gets Nuts and Other Burtonverse Nods
Ever since it was confirmed Keaton would return to the Dark Knight’s cowl for The Flash, fans knew they could anticipate more than a few nods to the past. This was even confirmed in the marketing, with his return in the Super Bowl TV spot featuring Keaton repeating the famous line, “I’m Batman” from the 1989 film. In another trailer, he could be seen saying again, “You wanna get nuts? C’mon, let’s get nuts,” which was a Keaton improvisation in ’89.
Both lines of dialogue appear in the final film, but other slightly subtler callbacks include the reminder that this is an old school, analogue-era, Baby Boomer Batman. During one moment where the heroes need to escape a Siberian dark site, Batman asks two Barry Allens, “How much do you weigh?” This calls back to Batman asking Vicki Vale (Kim Basinger), “How much do you weigh?” before using his grappling hook in the ’89 film. To underscore just how old-timey this Batman is, he even needs to pull out a tape measurer to make sure their combined weights and his device will work.
Additionally, when the two Barrys first find an old and retired Bruce Wayne, he is relaxing (maybe a little too much?) in Wayne Manor’s messy kitchen. Obviously, Alfred is gone, but the set design is the exact same in the ’89 film, recalling how Vicki told Bruce in that film that his stately dining room is “not you” before they both felt much more at home in this same kitchen.
Nic Cage’s Superman Finally Lives (And Fights a Giant Spider!!!)
This is perhaps the most obscure inside joke of the movie, but even general audiences will clock that Nicolas Cage cameo during the movie’s climactic “Chronobowl” scene. Barry gets a peek at many of the other alternate Earths that populate this DC multiverse, including the one in which the events of the canceled ’90s Superman revival movie, Superman Lives, actually happened!
The tortured development of this Super-flick is legendary among comic book movie nerds and for good reason: It’s easily the wildest Superman movie ever put in development, with an infamously over-the-top Cage set to portray the Man of Steel’s death and resurrection for director Tim Burton, who came on after Kevin Smith had already taken a few stabs at a script.
Using some admittedly very sketchy CG, The Flash finally makes Cage’s long-haired Superman a reality. He even takes on a giant spider in the scene, a callback to Superman Lives producer Jon Peters’ absolute obsession with having the Man of Steel fight a giant spider in the movie’s third act.
Crisis in the Multiverse with Christopher Reeve, Helen Slater, George Reeves, and Adam West
Speaking of cringey CG, The Flash also uses VFX tech to digitally resurrect Christopher Reeve, George Reeves, and Adam West as easter eggs during Chronobowl scene. No, these cameos don’t look great from a visual perspective, and we’d argue they’re not really a good look for the studio that greenlit them either, but on a list of notable easter eggs and references, it’s impossible not to include these nods to DC’s history on the big and small screens.
Also featured in the sequence are Helen Slater’s Supergirl from the 1984 movie, as well as a recreation of the original comic book version of the Flash, Jay Garrick, who was introduced in 1940 nearly 20 years before the now familiar Barry Allen version was created in 1959.
A Farewell to the Justice League of the Snyderverse
Although the DCEU version of this superhero universe isn’t technically over until Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom takes a bow later this year, The Flash really feels like a swan song for the Snyderverse era of these characters. After all, the Justice League members who appear in the movie were all cast by Zack Snyder, the original mastermind of the slate of darker superhero movies meant to set up the DCEU as a major competitor to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But when Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice underperformed at the box office and with critics, that vision quickly fell apart, leading to the barely coherent “universe” we ended up with, including multiple Batmen, Jokers, and lots of confused moviegoers–whatever was left of them by the time Black Adam and Shazam 2 came around…
As new DC Studios heads James Gunn and Peter Safran prepare to hit the reset button on the DC Universe, we get to say a final goodbye to most of Snyder’s JL, including Affleck, Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman, and Jason Momoa’s drunk Arthur Curry in a post-credit gag (although he’ll be back for the aforementioned Aquaman sequel). The film also briefly mentions Henry Cavill’s Superman, although he never actually appears in the flesh. Probably for the best after that Black Adam fiasco…
The Flash is in theaters now.