DC Extended Universe has a severe casting problem, which is no secret. However, the continuing saga concerning The Flash star Ezra Miller and the succession of abuse and harassment charges he’s faced in the last year most recently, grooming— might be the most serious moral dilemma the franchise has yet to face.
Even after the most recent allegations made by her parents that Miller has been grooming their 18-year-old daughter, activist Tokata Iron Eyes, since the age of 12, Warner Bros., which owns DC Comics, is “barreling ahead” with The Flash and plans to give the superhero film the “full blockbuster treatment,” according to a source in Variety (when Miller was 23).
Iron Eyes’ parents asked the Standing Rock Sioux tribal court for a protective order for their daughter last week, accusing Miller of controlling and manipulating her with narcotics, assault, and intimidation. They claimed, among other things, that Miller befriended their daughter while going to visit the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota in 2016, and then flew her and other tribe members to London in 2017 to visit the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them filming location, where Miller tried to share a bed with Iron Eyes, who was 14 at the time. The order has subsequently been approved by a judge, but law enforcement has been unable to locate Miller in order to serve him with documents. The matter is set for a hearing on July 12.
Even though these new claims about Miller are disturbing, Variety reports that Warner Bros. is betting that Miller will stay out of trouble and avoid legal consequences until The Flash comes out. The source also said that “to completely scrap the project would cost too much money.” Even though the movie could be released more quietly on Warner Bros.’ streaming service HBO Max, they say that the movie needs to be shown in theatres to “make money” for the studio. This rumored move by DC is especially defiant because fans on social media have been telling studio bosses to replace Miller with Grant Gustin, who plays The Flash on The CW, ever since they went viral at the end of last year. “However, neither of these ideas explains why the studio might fire Heard while saying nothing about Miller’s well-known danger to the public.”
Speaking of Heard, DC’s lackadaisical treatment of Miller so far is surprising because the actress’s legal team recently said that she was almost fired from her role as Mera in the DC movie Aquaman 2 and was not allowed to renegotiate her contract when she finally agreed to be in the movie because of the attention she was getting during her legal battle with Depp (her role has reportedly been downsized in the sequel). Walter Hamada, who is the president of DC Films, said that it wasn’t true that the studio thought about letting Heard go because she and Jason Momoa didn’t get along. But neither of these ideas explains why the studio might fire Heard but not Miller, who has a long history of being a threat to public safety.
No matter how they handle the Miller situation, the DCEU already has another problem to deal with in terms of their image and how much money they could make from The Flash. Miller’s scenes in the movie would have to be reshot, which would be a big and expensive job if Miller is the main star and there are a lot of expensive set pieces in modern superhero movies. The choice is still there, though. And for a big Hollywood company, the choice seems less impossible than inconvenient.