One easy way DC Comics' REBIRTH can redeem 'Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice'
There are only two types of people who don’t already know the big reveal in DC Comics’ REBIRTH #1: those who studiously avoid spoilers like Lot avoided becoming a pillar of salt, and those who don’t care. If you’re the former, flee now. If the latter, you’re about to get spoiled because there is a very easy way for REBIRTH to fix the broken, grimdark DC Films.
By cribbing it almost verbatim.
WARNING: SPOILERS FOR REBIRTH (AND BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE) BEYOND THIS POINT.
In REBIRTH, something is very wrong with the New 52. It’s as if joy — or love — has been stripped from superheroes entirely. But the only person who notices is Wally West. Not the New 52 Wally West (who will luckily survive this non-reboot), but the original Wally West of days gone by. The one that doesn’t exist in the New 52. Wally Prime didn’t die, he simply vanished from the timeline. But REBIRTH finds him trapped in the Speed Force (a place where all speedsters like The Flash get their powers, just go with it) instead of wiped from existence.
Being outside the universe, Wally Prime can see how wrong everything looks. But in order to warn everyone — and keep from fading like a photograph in Back to the Future — he has to get someone to remember him. The first person he tries? Batman.
This moment is where DC Films could right the ship. In REBIRTH, Batman obviously doesn’t remember Wally Prime because as far as Bruce is concerned, this guy never existed. Which sounds vaguely similar to a scene in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice where Bruce Wayne is accosted by someone traveling through time(?) to warn him of impending doom involving Lois. Most of the audience (that was even able to follow this fever-dream section of the film) assumed it was The Flash. Yet the design was so alien, you couldn’t be quite sure. A perfect ambiguity for a little retconning*.
*This wouldn’t be the first time. The entire plot of Batman v Superman is a response to fan outrage about the end of Man of Steel.
I’m not saying DC Films has to get The Watchmen involved, but any number of villains or well-meaning demigods could’ve futzed with the DCEU, leading to catastrophic character assassination. Having that Flash be Wally West stuck outside of time instead of Barry Allen creating the movie version of Flashpoint allows Warner Bros. to keep the continuity they’ve started. It also allows them to completely shift the tone of the franchise and fix Superman’s personality. The beauty of REBIRTH is that it isn’t a reboot; if done properly, it’ll be a healing balm that brings happiness and light back into a universe that’s gone off the grimdark deep end.
Is REBIRTH perfect? No. Is saying The Watchmen — specifically Dr. Manhattan — are responsible for the New 52 controversial. Yes. My only real sadness is how inside baseball REBIRTH is. Great for nerds, bad for growth. But at least DC Comics is trying to address the issues of their rebooted universe without wiping the slate clean again.
Geoff Johns is behind writing REBIRTH. He was also recently named co-head of DC Films alongside John Berg. Justice League: Part One is currently filming. These could all be a coincidence. But it's not outside the realm of possibility some script notes are on their way to the set. If we’re very lucky, Wally West can save the DCEU.