This article contains spoilers for The Flash.
It took about a decade, but finally, Warner Bros. got its Flash solo movie in theaters, with Ezra Miller reprising their role as the Fastest Man in the DC Universe. While the movie’s very disappointing box office return thus far likely means we’ll never get a proper sequel, The Flash does leave a few loose ends that would have presumably been addressed in the next installment. One cliffhanger in particular has even spawned a major online fan theory that just so happens to have been confirmed by director Andy Muschietti himself, leaving us daydreaming about what could have been.
Although The Flash is heavily inspired by 2011’s fan-favorite comic book Flashpoint by Geoff Johns and Andy Kubert, Muschietti branched out with a different version of events. But one thing the director kept from the source material was the death of Nora Allen (Maribel Verdú) as the focal point of the story. Like in the comic, it’s Barry’s attempts to save his mother that end up completely altering his timeline. Except that we never actually learn who was meant to have murdered Nora in the first place.
In the DC comics, Nora was murdered by Eobard Thawne, also known as the villain Reverse-Flash, a 25th century scientist who is obsessed with ruining Barry’s life, but that’s never confirmed in the actual movie. Interestingly, eagle-eyed The Flash viewers thought they saw sparks in the scene where Henry Allen (Ron Livingston) found his wife brutally stabbed to death, while others were left wondering why the movie didn’t introduce Thawne at all despite being a pivotal character in Flashpoint. Keen to clear up any confusion, Muschietti has confirmed Nora was killed by Reverse-Flash in the movie and that the goal was to set up the villain for a potential The Flash 2.
Speaking to The Playlist, Muschietti confirmed, “Well, Reverse-Flash is the elephant in the room, right?” Expanding on where he sees the story going, he added, “It feels like you can’t make another movie without addressing the one that, in all accounts, is the murderer of Barry’s mom. So, it feels like the big villain.”
There have been many to wear the mantle of Reverse-Flash, although Thawne is the most iconic, also taking on the moniker of Professor Zoom and being something of the Scarlet Speedster’s own Joker since his introduction in 1963’s The Flash #139. The idea of Barry’s tragic childhood without his mother was a more modern interpretation, with 2009’s The Flash: Rebirth containing the jaw-dropping reveal that Thawne was responsible for Nora’s murder. This seminal event led into Flashpoint, where Barry created an alternate timeline to try and stop Thawne from killing his mother.
Some thought Thawne would be the big bad of The Flash or Miller’s younger version of Barry would become a revamped version of Reverse-Flash. Things didn’t quite play out this way, with past Barry instead becoming Dark Flash and evolving into a deformed monster hellbent on saving Nora, Michael Keaton’s Batman, and Sasha Calle’s Supergirl. There are of course elements of Reverse-Flash here, with Dark Flash’s story being similar to Daniel West, the brother of Iris West in the comics who went back in time to kill their abusive father, inadvertently picking up pieces of shrapnel as a sort of Speed Force armor.
None of the characters in The Flash seem too bothered with finding out who killed Nora before the credits roll. Still, it makes sense that the identity of Nora’s killer would stay true to the comics. It’s easy to imagine a sequel where Barry is forced to confront his mother’s killer, similar to how Jack Nicholson’s Joker was responsible for the deaths of Thomas and Martha Wayne in 1989’s Batman.
No matter what you think of The Flash’s villain reveal, it pulled the rug from underneath those who assumed Michael Shannon’s returning General Zod would get top billing as the main villain. Muschietti seemingly has no shortage of ideas for what could happen next, with the director also giving the nod to the Turtle and Gorilla Grodd as villains he’d like to see further down the line. Even if a sequel to The Flash never materializes – and despite Miller’s future with the franchise in a very uncertain place – The Flash ends with more than enough plot threads for Barry Allen to return in James Gunn’s revamped DCU and seek justice for Nora.
The Flash is in theaters now.