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Is It Good For Christians to Watch ‘The Flash’?

The increasingly popular multiverse concept in superhero films has, perhaps hurriedly, been inducted into the DCU with the latest film, The Flash. DC fans saw Flashpoint in the CW series, but the iconic storyline became the linchpin in DC’s hard reset of their cinematic universe. Ezra Miller’s short-lived tenure as Barry Allen is spent, and little of the original 10-year plan will remain intact. James Gunn is at the helm, and the pressure is on to save the DC cinematic universe.

Leading up to the film’s release, I was asked multiple times how I felt about seeing The Flash, knowing the criminal actions of its lead, Ezra Miller. It’s a tough question that I don’t take lightly. (Obvious spoiler alert: I saw the film.) My belief is that we can separate the art from the artist, but only to a certain extent. It’s good to have boundaries based not merely on a film’s content but also, in some cases, on the history and beliefs of the cast and crew. A few things deserve consideration when making a fair assessment of whether Christians should watch The Flash.

1. What is Our Movie Watching Standard?

Film—like music, literature, and every other artform—is the intersection of art and humanity. Therefore, thoughtful consumers are tasked with a double-testing: weighing the moral implications of both the art and the actions, personality, and beliefs of the artist. An obvious example is work that portrays Jesus Christ or religion. When Noah was released, people started questioning what Darren Aronofsky believed about Christianity and how his worldview influenced his creative choices (looking at you, Nephilim).

It’s much easier to separate the art from the artist when the film’s subject isn’t Christianity. But even as I watched Miller’s Barry Allen saving kids and playing a “humble” superhero, I held in mind the way he has treated people in real life. However, if I were to boycott The Flash due to Miller’s criminal history, I would likely have to stop watching movies altogether. The minority of creatives in Hollywood follow Christ. (I think it is right that Christians follow their conscience when making personal decisions about what to consume, but we should not necessarily make a sweeping moral claim that no Christian should watch The Flash.) Though it tainted the movie experience for me, I could reduce Miller to the on-screen role with moderate ease.

The Flash makes moral claims and asks a question with deep personal implications: what if we could go back in time (literally) and right our wrongs? The intensity of the question is deepened by the history of Barry Allen’s actor, Ezra Miller, as a categorical disturber of the peace at best and a criminal accused of grooming and harassment at worst. I am not defending Miller’s actions—they’re heinous. Whether we like it or not, Miller as a person contributes to our theater experience.

2. We Find Deep Meaning in Controversy

Christians can find meaning in controversial (or even morally questionable) movies. Of course, with The Flash, the protagonist fights for a moral good. Barry Allen’s character development is that he realizes he can’t make everything about himself, even if he has the power to bend the arc of time to his will. His development is complete when he tells the younger version of himself what Bruce Wayne told him at the beginning of the movie: “These scars we have make us who we are. We’re not meant to go back and fix them.” This moment is especially poignant considering the overlap of Barry Allen and Ezra Miller. In both cases, they may want to go back and right wrongs, but that’s not how the world works. As Christians, we can respond that God will ultimately “turn back the clock,” per se, and restore the world to an Edenic state in which neither sin nor shame exist.

As a Christian who loves storytelling, I believe many stories may reflect that Great Story—the story of Christianity. In The Flash, themes of grief, pain, and a longing for justice are clear. Though the film’s lead has instigated many wrongs and injustices, Christians have an opportunity to consume a story that attempts to be good, but ultimately feels incomplete. This isn’t a bad thing—in fact, it’s the precise moment in time in which we live.

3. We May See Ourselves in the Flash

As broken people who are burdened by hurt and often the cause of our own shame, we live in the same world dynamic as The Flash (minus the looming Kryptonian threats and superheroes). We have regrets that, if we could, we would go back and change. The Flash’s main message (that scars make us who we are) is a truth universally observed. Though we may feel the urge to take the moral high ground in comparison to Miller, we undoubtedly wrestle with the same tendencies as everyone else: we’re sinful people saved by the grace of God. For me, it was humbling to remember that I struggle with sin and need the same grace from God that could save Ezra Miller.

4. Controversial Movies Make for Good Conversations

Finally, The Flash provides a distinct opportunity to share the gospel with mainstream culture. While the film’s box-office opening was a massive disappointment (even lower than Black Adam’s opening), the movie—and the specific dynamic this article addresses—has been a popular topic of discussion. People have brought their own moral beliefs to a superhero movie, and Christians may have a great opportunity to share the gospel with them rather than boycotting the movie to claim the moral high ground. Too often, Christians have been critics of content they are largely uninformed about (think of Harry Potter). By watching The Flash, we can make connections to the good, true, and beautiful of the gospel as we see hints of it reflected in a popular movie.

In the end, personal conviction matters. If you feel as if the Holy Spirit is compelling you to avoid a film (or any other artwork), it is prudent to do so. But it is my belief that Christians should engage with films like this one. Doing so gives us an opportunity to be a distinct Christian voice on the goodness and beauty (or lack thereof) that we see in the arts. If we truly believe the Christian moral standard is true, then we as Christians are best equipped to discern and critique films of this caliber. It’s our responsibility to engage with the world around us, finding opportunities to share the gospel with our peers and society.

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