The Flash ending explained: Who is that surprise cameo? And what does it mean?

Ezra Miller as Barry Allen in The Flash
(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

The Flash has now zoomed its way onto the big screen, with Barry Allen's multiversal mishaps bringing the DCEU to a conclusion (DCU Chapter One: Gods and Monsters, helmed by new CEOs James Gunn and Peter Safran, is up next for the superhero franchise). 

If you've already entered the Speed Force, you'd be forgiven for having a few questions about how the movie's tangled threads (or spaghetti strands) get straightened out by the final scene. And there's a fair amount to unpack in that final scene…

We've got your complete guide to The Flash ending explained – but, as you might expect, that means there are major spoilers for The Flash from here on out. Proceed with caution if you haven't seen the movie yet and don't want to know what happens!

The surprise cameo at the end of The Flash, explained

The Flash

(Image credit: Warner Bros)

As Barry is coming out of the courthouse after his father's successful appeal, he's on the phone to Bruce Wayne, who calls him to congratulate him. Barry says that he has a lot to tell him about his misadventures in the multiverse the next time they see each other, but Bruce tells him that he's on his way now. A fancy car pulls up and a suited figure steps out. It's Bruce Wayne, but not as we know him – instead of Ben Affleck, it's George Clooney.

Clooney, of course, played Batman in the past, taking on the role in 1997's Batman & Robin. He replaced Val Kilmer as the Caped Crusader, who in turn had replaced Michael Keaton – Clooney's co-star in The Flash. 

Why did George Clooney replace Ben Affleck? 

Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne in The Flash

(Image credit: Warner Bros. Pictures)

It's a tale as old as time (travel) – the butterfly effect. As we know, Barry Allen's escapades back in time really messed things up, with General Zod set to destroy Earth with no Superman to stop him (and no Wonder Woman, Cyborg, or Aquaman, either). In this timeline, Batman does exist, but he's older, more jaded (we didn't think it was possible, either) and played by Michael Keaton.

Barry ends up in this timeline in the first place because he works out he can travel back in time by moving faster than the speed of light. He decides to use this newfound ability to prevent his mother's murder, a tragedy that results in his father being wrongfully imprisoned for the crime. Barry works out that everything can be traced back to one can of tomatoes – if his mother didn't forget to buy them earlier that fateful day, his father would never have gone out to the grocery store, the intruder wouldn't have thought the house was empty, and his mother would never have been killed. Although his father had his visit to the store as an alibi, his face wasn't visible in any of the CCTV footage, so it couldn't be corroborated in court. 

While Barry's initial plan to plant the tomatoes in his mother's shopping cart may have saved her life, it also made the whole universe unravel. Her death is an "inevitable intersection," in Keaton's Bruce Wayne's words: it's an event that has to happen in order to stop the universe dissolving. The movie's final act sees Barry travel back in time once more to undo the actions of his other past self (stay with us here) – he removes the newly placed can of tomatoes from the shopping cart and puts it back on the shelf. However, he's not quite done meddling with the past just yet. He notices the CCTV camera above the shelves and decides to move all the tomatoes from the bottom shelf to the top (speedily, of course). That means that when his father reaches out for the tomatoes during his grocery store trip, he has to look up, and his face will be clearly visible in the CCTV footage.

Cut to the present day, and Barry arrives at court for his father's appeal, where the CCTV footage is presented as new evidence and Mr. Allen's appeal is successful. Plus, Zod hasn't destroyed the planet and everything seems to be as it should, so it seems like Barry's minor tweak to the past was without consequence. However, as Barry leaves the courthouse and Bruce Wayne's car pulls up outside, we see that's not quite the case…

Will George Clooney be in the DCU?

George Clooney as Batman in Batman & Robin

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

This seems very unlikely, in our opinion – it's most probable that Clooney's casting was just a fun callback to the '90s Batman movies and a final twist of multiversal mischief. A new Batman (and Robin) movie is in the works under Gunn and Safran's new DC leadership, but no casting information has been revealed for that yet. 

The Flash is in theaters now. For more on the movie, dive into our spoiler-filled guides:

Entertainment Writer

I’m an Entertainment Writer here at GamesRadar+, covering everything film and TV-related across the Total Film and SFX sections. I help bring you all the latest news and also the occasional feature too. I’ve previously written for publications like HuffPost and i-D after getting my NCTJ Diploma in Multimedia Journalism.