The Flash is the perfect DCEU finale – but I'm not ready to say goodbye

The Flash
(Image credit: Warner Bros)

Has there ever been a cinematic universe quite like the DCEU? Plagued with issues throughout its decade-long run, being a fan of the beleaguered franchise was sometimes more of an endurance test than a hobby. And yet, despite it all, I'm sincerely going to miss the messy, ridiculous, glorious DCEU. 

Going into The Flash, I knew this would be something of a last hurrah for the characters and the world I know and love; after all, James Gunn and Peter Safran are wiping most of the slate clean in 2025, when DCU Chapter One: Gods and Monsters begins (a new Batman and Superman are incoming, for example). 

The Flash does indeed play like a loving farewell, too. The movie begins with the familiar faces of Ben Affleck's Batman, Jeremy Irons's Alfred, and a cameo I won't spoil here, then diverges wildly into a whole new world that features Michael Keaton's Batman and Sasha Calle's Supergirl. When I sat down to watch, as the film shifted to its alternate timeline, I knew I might never see the DCEU's version of the Justice League sharing the screen again (with the notable exception of some team members, though they are referenced in the movie). 

That goodbye brings a tear to my eye, because I've loved the DCEU for a decade. It was Man of Steel that first hooked me way back in 2013 – in a twist of fate, The Flash's UK release date is exactly 10 years later – but it wasn't until I saw 2016's Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice on opening night in a sold out IMAX screen that I knew I was all in. And yes, I'm well aware that I'm somewhat in the minority there, considering BvS sits at a sad 29% on Rotten Tomatoes (boo). But Zack Snyder's dark, mythic, and grandiose take on Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman fully captured my imagination, and I've been a huge fan of these movies ever since. 

But, in a sentiment any DCEU fan will share, the franchise has really put me through it. 2017's Justice Leaguehappened – and let's not make light of the seriousness of the allegations surrounding the movie, either (The Flash, too, carries plenty of its own baggage after the behavior of its embattled star Ezra Miller). In the aftermath, Cavill's Superman vanished without a whisper, while Affleck eventually hung up his cape and cowl and relinquished his solo movie. Together, it was enough to break my heart. 

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

(Image credit: Warner Bros./DC)

It doesn't end there, either. It turns out David Ayer's Suicide Squad is in fact not David Ayer's Suicide Squad, as he maintains the theatrical version was "ripped to pieces." The long-fabled Snyder Cut was released – and you'd better believe I adored every second of those four hours – then was promptly revealed to be a dead end. Countless exciting projects said to be in the works, including the likes of Zatanna, Deathstroke, and Cyborg movies, never materialized. This happened enough times that I resigned myself to waiting for a DC movie to hit the cinema before I let myself get excited about it. Case in point: Ava DuVernay's New Gods and James Wan's The Trench were abruptly scrapped without warning, while Batgirl was cancelled despite already having been filmed

All of that to-ing and fro-ing pales in comparison to the sheer, agonizing chaos that was the Black Adam era. Henry Cavill was Superman again! And then he wasn't, with Cavill both announcing his comeback and his departure via Instagram posts spaced just two months apart. In those two months, plenty of reports surfaced that gave conflicting updates on the actor's DC future, giving and taking away hope in equal measure. It was all so exhausting I was almost relieved when the confirmation of Cavill's DC fate finally came, as disappointing as it was. Perhaps the most baffling move of all, however, was when the new DC Studios CEOs were announced immediately post-Black Adam, throwing Dwayne Johnson's own widely discussed DC plans into doubt and leaving this year's movies in a weird limbo. In a crushing turn of events, Wonder Woman 3 ended up dead in the water as a casualty of the changeover. 

Margot Robbie in Birds of Prey

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Through it all, though, I've remained a steadfast fan these past 10 years, because while the lows were low, the highs were just as high. It started with my love for Man of Steel and Dawn of Justice, but Wonder Woman blew me away, too, and that No Man's Land scene still gives me goosebumps. Birds of Prey remains one of my favorite ever DCEU films, with its punchy, colorful style and madcap storytelling – and Margot Robbie's Harley Quinn has got to be the quintessential example of perfect casting, though Ewan McGregor's delightfully extravagant Black Mask gives her a run for her money. Shazam! and Aquaman diverged from the franchise's more grounded, darker tone to become sparkling, fun gems in their own right. Films like Wonder Woman 1984, Suicide Squad, and Shazam! Fury of the Gods have their flaws, but I enjoy them all the same. As bumpy a ride as the DCEU has been, it was never all bad – and, hey, following every contradictory rumor, scrap of news, and update has been pretty fun, too, in its own tragic way.

It's all of this that made watching The Flash so bittersweet. It is the perfect finale, though Blue Beetle and Aquaman 2 still wait in the wings. The multiverse movie is a veritable celebration of all things DCEU, which pays tribute to the rest of the studio's incredible onscreen history and is packed with Easter eggs a-plenty. With its array of DCEU cameos and deep connection to Man of Steel via General Zod's return, The Flash feels like the last true taste of the old franchise – especially as Blue Beetle is officially a bridge to the new guard, and Aquaman 2 seems a fairly standalone sequel (though, in one last bit of DCEU chaos, it may or may not include a Batfleck post-credits scene). 

Loving this franchise also means I'm still not completely sure if I'm excited about the future, though I'm heartened that some aspects of the old world – like Viola Davis's Amanda Waller – will carry over. It's hard to say goodbye to a cinematic universe that I've followed for 10 years, and which has slung me around like a yo-yo with every new report and scrapped project. How can you just let something like that go? The DCEU wasn't just a series of films, it was an experience. Seeing any of the movies in the cinema felt like a reward for time in the trenches. There will never be a cinematic universe as chaotic, exciting, heartbreaking, and downright whiplash-inducing as the DCEU again… and I'm just not ready to say goodbye. 

If you're up to speed on The Flash, check out our spoilery deep dives on: 

Molly Edwards
Entertainment Writer

I'm an Entertainment Writer here at GamesRadar+, covering all things film and TV for the site's Total Film and SFX sections. I previously worked on the Disney magazines team at Immediate Media, and also wrote on the CBeebies, MEGA!, and Star Wars Galaxy titles after graduating with a BA in English.