Warner Bros’ late decision to bring Ezra Miller back into the frontline of The Flash’s promotional campaign feels like an odd one.
I wasn’t at the premiere that took place of The Flash in Los Angeles earlier this week, that seems to have gone down really rather well. As such, I’m reliant on reports from outlets such as Variety and Deadline, as well as footage shot at the event, to get a flavour of what happened. That doesn’t always give you the full picture, hence me acknowledging this up front.
Still, there were some things that definitely happened, and they point to an elephant in the room when it comes to coverage of the impressive-looking The Flash movie. Something I’m not entirely sure it’s as easy to overlook as Warner Bros would hope.
At said premiere, Ezra Miller gave their first public appearance since very serious charges and allegations were levelled against them. Apologies have been issued for some of the accusations, a no contest plea entered for another, and no admission has been made at all on others. I’m no lawyer, so I fully accept that there’s been no conviction here. Still, a brief summation of the issues surrounding Miller is detailed here, and there’s no way to easily spin it all: it’s hugely troubling and worrying.
Furthermore, a Vanity Fair piece entitled ‘Ezra Miller has now been accused of grooming minors and leading a cult’ can be found here, and this to my knowledge has not been the subject of legal action.
Miller has sought professional help, and it’s no secret they’ve been battling demons. They’ve also, perhaps wisely, kept away from the limelight while they do so, giving no public statements for the best part of two years. Those on the receiving end of Miller’s behaviour? Well, they don’t get the light of publicity – rightly, if that’s what they prefer – and I can but hope that they’re getting the support they deserve and require. Miller being moved out of the limelight may well have made life a little easier for them.
I’ve spent a couple of paragraphs there just touching on something that the film’s promotional campaign has understandably been very, very keen to step to the side of. As much as Miller’s image is the centrepiece of the visual campaign for the movie – right there on the poster! – their name isn’t, and they’ve been kept away from movie junkets and most of the publicity trail. It was as if Warner Bros had decided to back the movie, but to tread carefully with its star.
But I don’t think you can have your metaphorical cake and then publicly eat it. I don’t think you can keep your star away from things and then, come the premiere, make them the centrepiece attraction. And that’s what happened earlier this week.
Variety reported – although I can’t find exact footage to back this up – that “Miller received a rockstar welcome at The Flash premiere.” I certainly see material where they’re getting cheering and applause though, and it doesn’t really sit quite right.
Director Andres Muschietti took the microphone at the premiere, and as is custom, introduced his cast and crew. He was supportive and effusive towards his star. He’s never going to throw Miller under the bus, and an environment of support is, longer term, a lot healthier than one of attack.
Muschietti, incidentally, also took time out of his introduction to praise many members of his crew, whose names otherwise wouldn’t get much mention. All power to him for that.
But still, the evening’s introduction was crowned by Muschietti introducing Miller, who then got to have pretty much the final say. The big star at the end of the moment. The centre of the premiere, being given the microphone, and given their moment.
Miller hasn’t been ‘cancelled’. In fact, they’ve been given a platform.
It’s hard not to think – and these are my words, I’m not putting them into the mouths of anyone else – that had the film itself not been any good, then Warner Bros would have been less inclined to back it, and its star. The paradoxical problem it had was that The Flash as a movie has clearly worked. So much so that Muschietti has already been talking about Miller returning to play the role in a potential sequel, again something that feels a little odd when so much is unresolved.
Warner Bros, you may remember, is the studio that deleted a pretty much completed Batgirl movie off its servers in a tax write off. All the while supporting The Flash. That doesn’t sit easily either.
I appreciate it’s not all black and white. Films of this size are the work of hundreds of people, and not just one. I feel for the people for instance who worked on Gore, a film that may or may not be brilliant, but has been deemed unreleasable due to the ecosystem of (denied) accusations around the person starring in it. There are many other examples around.
It’s not for me to be judge, jury and executioner where Ezra Miller is concerned. That’s not the focus of this piece, nor the reason for it. Rather that by Warner Bros reversing its decision to keep Miller out of the limelight, and then handing over the microphone, it’s made a call, and I think that should be openly acknowledged. And I bring it up again: it continues to make that Batgirl decision look increasingly uncomfortable.
The Flash is in cinemas now, and our review is here.
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