OK, let's rip this bandaid right off: Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice is not a good movie. It's clunky and nonsensical and, well, for a movie about two of the world's most dynamic superheroes throwing punches, it was excruciatingly boring. There is, however, one tiny kinetic spark in the film's 2.5-hour run, thanks to key appearances from future members of the Justice League -- and no, we're not referring to the bat or the alien.
One of the few things about Batman V Superman that its trailers and teasers and teaser trailers didn't reveal is how the other founding members of the Justice League fit into the mix. If you don't want to be spoiled, we suggest you click away now.
When Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) encrypts Lex Luther's (Jesse Eisenberg) secret files, he discovers a top-secret folder titled "Meta-Human Project." There, he finds individual files on four known meta-humans, and while he might not know their names, we certainly do: Diana Prince (Wonder Woman), Barry Allen (The Flash), Arthur Curry (Aquaman), and Vic Stone (Cyborg).
Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman is arguably the scene-stealer of Batman V Superman. What made the climatic battle against Doomsday so thrilling, despite the obvious CG animation, was it was the only scene in the entire film where anyone (mainly Wonder Woman) had any fun being a superhero. Armed with her sword, shield, and a sly smile, she charged at the Kryptonian fraken-monster with gusto. She's a warrior bred for battle. When she hooks her Lasso of Truth around Doomday, it's thrilling, and for the first time in the entire film, you feel like you're part of the action.
If Wonder Woman was the star, then it's Ezra Miller's Barry Allen who's the spark. The Scarlet Speedster makes two appearances in the film, but it's his ominous message to Batman that's important, especially when it comes to setting up the events of The Justice League: Part One.
It's not that the weight of the Justice League lies on The Flash's shoulders -- although, director Zack Snyder did say that the speedster will provide some much-needed comic relief in The Justice League -- but that 30-second scene, in which Barry appears to Bruce seemingly from the future, was so tonally different from the rest of the film, it gave me hope. That's the kind of superhero story I want to see, one where our heroes travel through time to deliver cryptic, LOL-worthy messages. Why? Because that is fun.
In the comics, The Flash has a time travel device known as the cosmic treadmill. (See? Don't you already love The Flash?) Not to mention, he can regularly use the Speed Force to break through other dimensions and alter timelines. While it's not entirely clear how The Flash got to Batman, we do know two things: One, Lois Lane is the key (we told you this was a cryptic message), and two, The Flash's costume in this scene looks very different than the one we're used to seeing. Is that a product of the breach, or could it just be Barry Allen's new costume? It looks like he's ready for battle.
As for Barry's warning, throughout Batman v Superman, Batman has a bunch of terrible visions, or "Knightmares." In one of them, Batman faces off against Darkseid, one of the most powerful characters in the DC Universe and a major enemy of the Justice League, in a Mad Max-esque post-apocalyptic world. (Foreshadowing alert!) The vision is entirely nonsensical and seems to play into Batman's fear of Superman -- but it's what happens after the vision that truly matters. Barry Allen appears to Bruce through a portal and tells him, "You have to find us... It's Lois. She's the key."
OK, so bear with me here, but after Clark's death at the end of Batman V Superman, Martha Kent gives Lois the engagement ring Clark was planning to give to her -- and that engagement ring might be the "key" Barry is referring to. But what does this stone do? My guess is that it can bring Superman back to life. Supes would be pretty smart to propose with a ring that could resurrect him. Not to mention the Snyder's camera lingered on that ring for far too long for it not to be important.
The dialogue in this Flash sequence is a bit muddled, but Barry also says Bruce was "right about him," and while we don't know which "him" he's referring to, it's safe to say that it's probably Superman. Flash also acknowledges that he’s "too early," seemingly referring to the fact that he’s come across at the wrong point in the timeline to deliver this message, but Bruce is going to have to deal with it anyway. Whoops.
As for the other part of Barry's message -- "You have to find us!" -- at Clark's funeral, Bruce tells Diana that he wants to find the other meta-humans in Luther's files and assemble a team. As we know, that team is the Justice League.
The Flash appears once more in video surveillance footage encrypted in Luther's files. Diana watches as a ponytailed (!) Barry stops an armed robber with his super-speed, which results in an erratic electrical discharge. (And you thought you had problems.)
Batman V Superman also gave us our first official look at Jason Momoa's Aquaman in action. In Luther's encrypted files, there's a video of the Atlantean king taking out an underwater probe with his powerful trident. Living at the bottom of the ocean has its perks. Not only can Aquaman see in the dark, he can also swim at super-speeds and communicate with fish using his telepathy abilities, which means he can literally compel a school of fish to attack you. Oh, and his skin can stop bullets. He's a B.F.D. ("Big Fucking Deal").
As for Ray Fisher's Cyborg, Vic Stone's origin story is not for the faint of heart. The son of scientists, Vic was regularly experimented on as a kid. When Vic is horribly maimed in an accident at S.T.A.R. Labs, his father Silas uses an experimental procedure to save his son, as seen in Batman V Superman. As a result, he turns him into a, well, cyborg. His mind is now a computer, one that can process data and encrypt files -- and his body is made up of advanced parts that grant Vic superpowers like strength, speed, and the ability to fly.
It would be naive to think that banding the Justice League together would create a tonal shift for the franchise. It's already been built on a foundation of destruction porn and nihilism. But seeing Wonder Woman leap into battle with Doomsday? Watching The Flash appear through a portal of time and space to deliver a cryptic message? These are unequivocal bright spots in the chasm of doom and darkness Snyder has created -- and these are the moments that give me a sliver hope for what's to come.
Well, that and the possibility of watching Barry Allen and Hal Jordan's bromance blossom on the big screen.