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In the new standalone 'Flash' movie, Barry Allen has Latin heritage


I have always had a thing for the superhero the Flash. He's not a musclebound, take-charge alpha male like Superman or Batman. The Flash is all about speed and self-deprecating wit, wrapped in a slight and slender frame. Now, that description has fit me to a tee since I was a tot. I could never trade punches with bullies, so I'd run away instead. For decades, I've read Flash comic books. I've watched Flash TV series. I've collected hundreds of Flash figures and memorabilia, which I keep on display in my office at NPR West. All this to say that I've been waiting around, oh, say 45 years for a standalone Flash movie. Well, the wait is over.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: (As character) Oh, my God. Flash.


EZRA MILLER: (As Barry) Hi.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: (As character) I love you.

MILLER: (As Barry) Thank you.

JEREMY IRONS: (As Alfred) Patching you in to Mr. Wayne.

MILLER: (As Barry) No, please don't.

BEN AFFLECK: (As Bruce) I need you here now, Barry.

MARTÍNEZ: The director of "The Flash" is Andy Muschietti, and his sister Barbara is one of the producers. They were born in Argentina. And I had some questions for them.

When Barry Allen's mom, Nora, first shows up, she's singing in the kitchen in Spanish.


MARIBEL VERDU: (Singing in Spanish).

MARTÍNEZ: When she speaks to Barry and his dad, Henry, in English, she has an accent.


VERDU: (As Nora) I love you, monkey.

IAN LOH: (As Little Barry) I love you more.

VERDU: (As Nora) I loved you first.


MARTÍNEZ: So I got to know, because it hit me like a bolt of lightning - pardon the pun - is the Flash Latinx? Does the Flash have Latin American ancestry, Andy?

ANDRES MUSCHIETTI: Well, he has a Latin mother, so you draw your own conclusions.


BARBARA MUSCHIETTI: We'd like him to. I mean, we're Latinos. And we bring with us what we are. We're incredibly proud Latinos. We're incredibly happy that we went to the studio and we told them who we wanted. And that's who we have in the movie - Maribel, Sasha. We have Ruben Blades. We have Rosalia, you know? We have Natalia LaFourcade singing a Chavela Vargas song. It may be, you know, details, but we're definitely all over the movie.

MARTÍNEZ: Oh, I noticed. Everyone - (laughter) I think everyone's going to notice, for sure.

B MUSCHIETTI: Well, and hopefully it makes it better.

MARTÍNEZ: Yeah. Now, there have been lots of Batman movies, lots of Superman movies, a couple of Wonder Woman movies, even an Aquaman movie. Andy, this is the first Flash film, the first standalone Flash film. So tell us, who is the Flash? How does he fit into what we've seen from DC in the last few years?

A MUSCHIETTI: Well, I think it's a character that deserved a standalone movie, you know, not only because of what the character means in the comic book world, but also the portrayal of Barry Allen that Ezra did in previous movies like "Justice League" and "Batman v. Superman" a little bit. I think we all deserve not only a standalone movie about the character, but a movie where the character is played by Ezra Miller. And that's one of the things that got me very excited.

MARTÍNEZ: The star of "The Flash" is Ezra Miller. In the past year and a half, Miller has been fined for disorderly conduct and pled guilty to trespassing, while also being accused of assault, burglary and grooming a minor. I asked Andy what it was like to make the movie while Miller was going through those controversies.

A MUSCHIETTI: Well, obviously, we take these issues very seriously. We do have a lot of empathy for people who need help. And Ezra is going through treatment right now. And he's taking the necessary steps to recovery. And we support him in that. We support them in that sense.

B MUSCHIETTI: But as filmmakers, you keep working. You have a wonderful movie in your hands, and you get it done. You keep your head down and you get the movie done.

MARTÍNEZ: There's a few comic book stores in my neighborhood that I go to regularly just to see what new Flash toys are there for me to buy. But there are people there that I talk to, people that work there, people that go there. And some of them are saying that they will not see this movie. They will not see "The Flash" movie because Ezra Miller is in the movie. What would you say to fans who may choose not to watch the movie because Ezra Miller is in it?

A MUSCHIETTI: Look; everybody has a right to have their opinion and their sensibility and stuff. I can't speak to them. I don't want to convince them otherwise. I can say that we are very proud of this movie. We're very happy with Ezra's work in it. And we support him in his recovery and the steps that he's basically following to complete his treatment.

B MUSCHIETTI: I will also add that mental health is an issue for everybody. And I would advocate empathy.

MARTÍNEZ: Tell us, then, who is the Ezra Miller that you two know that we don't?

A MUSCHIETTI: He's a good - he's a person with a huge heart. Since the moment that we met them, we knew that they were a very special person with a lot of feelings and a lot of heart. And they are dedicated to activism and help other people, and apart from that, an extraordinary actor, just incredibly talented.

B MUSCHIETTI: And disciplined, passionate. We shot with them for 138 days. We prepped with them for six months non-stop. And they were truly incredible.

MARTÍNEZ: Now, Andy, by the time you signed on to direct "The Flash," that was July 2019. There had been production delays. At least three directors left the project, story and script changes. It seemed like a mess. I live a mile away from Warner Brothers. I know people that work on the lot. We see each other at the grocery store. We would talk all the time. What about "The Flash" got you to sign on to this?

A MUSCHIETTI: It wasn't any issue for us. I just looked at this movie as an opportunity to make something exciting for the audience. And we just jumped on it.

B MUSCHIETTI: And as Latinos, we're incredibly stubborn.

MARTÍNEZ: (Laughter).

B MUSCHIETTI: We will bite a bone and not let it go, especially, you know, if we love it. We do everything we can to make great movies. The rest, you know, can't exist. We just look forward and try to tell a beautiful story.

MARTÍNEZ: Andy Muschietti directed "The Flash." Barbara Muschietti is one of the producers. "The Flash" comes out June 16. Thanks to you both.

A MUSCHIETTI: Thank you. Thank you, A.

B MUSCHIETTI: Thank you so much, A.

A MUSCHIETTI: Thank you so much.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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