On Monday, DC Studio’s The Flash premiered in Los Angeles. Ezra Miller, the titular star of the film, gave a brief speech following the screening to a cheering crowd. They thanked a slew of producers and film heads, including Warner Bros. CEO David Zaslav and director Andrés Muschietti, for their “care.” Miller should be thankful, I suppose, because all of these folks have gone to bat for them despite their slew of increasingly horrendous behavior in the past couple years.
Miller, who is nonbinary and uses they/them pronouns, thanked these power players for their “grace and discernment and care in the context of my life. And in bringing this moment to fruition.” Watching the clip of Miller’s first public comments in years, one might not think much of it. In fact, I’d bet that Warner Bros. is hoping you don’t! But anyone not suffering from short-term memory loss is well aware of the “context” of Miller’s recent life.
In the past two years alone, Miller has been charged with felony burglary; arrested two times in Hawaii for assault and disorderly conduct; appeared to have choked a woman in a video that made rounds on social media; was accused of grooming a teenager by the teen’s parents; allegedly housed a mother and her three children on their Vermont farm that was stocked with guns; and was said to have run a cult out of their Icelandic Airbnb. The only instance of erratic behavior I can somewhat get behind is when they posted an Instagram video threatening North Carolina’s Ku Klux Klan.
Needless to say, seeing them walk the red carpet and be met with applause at this premiere feels a bit like we’re all being gaslit. Should this person be celebrated at a huge Hollywood event?! Probably not! But the powers that be have been working overtime to convey that 1) Ezra Miller is very sorry about what they’ve done and 2) The Flash is soooo good.
Last August, Miller released a statement following their felony charge:
I now understand that I am suffering complex mental health issues and have begun ongoing treatment. I want to apologize to everyone that I have alarmed and upset with my past behavior. I am committed to doing the necessary work to get back to a healthy, safe and productive stage in my life.
Since then, they’ve been pretty much publicly silent.
But recent comments from Miller’s reps have undercut the sincerity of that statement. “The notion that The Flash was at risk was a wake-up call,” one told Vanity Fair. “They care about The Flash. It’s one of their favorite characters to play,” another source told The Hollywood Reporter. So, actually, realizing that their alleged assaults and threats against people’s wellbeing wasn’t what changed their ways, but the possibility a superhero movie might not come out (or might not make money) did? Got it.
And now, a slew of truly random celebrities have been pushing the narrative of how good The Flash is. THR has published an exclusive (!!) titled “Tom Cruise Has Seen ‘The Flash’ … and He Loved It.” OK. Stephen King tweeted that he found the film “heartfelt, funny, and eye-popping.” Alright? Jaden Smith posted a carousal on Instagram of mostly selfies with the caption, “The Flash Was Amazing I Just Don’t Know What To Say Wow.” No, please, say more.
I obviously don’t know if there’s a coordinated push behind these celebrity endorsements, but the out-of-left-field advanced praise and relative silence from the film’s biggest star following years of controversial behavior are certainly convenient for a film with a $220 million budget that was on rocky terrain because of said star.
A huge corporation like Warner Bros. is not out to do anything other than make a shit ton of money; I know that. (cough, the writers strike). But the smoothness with which they’re rolling out this film and the positive reception it’s gathering (at CinemaCon and on Rotten Tomatoes) makes me feel somewhat delusional, as if the allegations against Miller aren’t really serious.
The Flash opens in wide release on Friday, so we will soon see if this gaslighting promo has worked.