Going into The Flash — out now in the UK on digital — we knew that Michael Keaton reprises one of his greatest roles – Batman – from Tim Burton’s beloved 1989 Batman movie and its sequel Batman Returns. This sets up expectations in The Flash for some delectable Easter eggs.
But we get more than just a Burton bounty to chew on — there are a batch of other gratifying Easter eggs, references, and cameos to discover relating to the wider DC universe both on the screen and on the page. Some are less obvious than others, but here are some of the very best Easter eggs we found in The Flash.
Read more: The Flash post-credits scenes explained
Let’s get nuts!
Watch a trailer for The Flash
When Barry is in the Speed Force towards the end of the film, he sees numerous versions of superheroes across the ages and universes, including George Reeves’s Superman as well as Christopher Reeve’s Superman standing alongside Helen Slater’s Supergirl. He also sees Adam West’s Batman – and even Nicolas Cage’s Superman.
This brilliant addition suggests that in another in-universe universe, Nicolas Cage was Superman. But it also suggests that in an alternate version of the audience’s universe, Nicolas Cage actually got to play the Superman role in Tim Burton’s ill-fated Superman Lives.
The cameo is neatly presaged earlier in the film when we learn that in younger Barry Allen’s universe, the Marty McFly role in Back to the Future was played by Eric Stoltz – who had in real life been fired from the role to be replaced by Michael J Fox. It’s also a universe in which Kevin Bacon appeared in Top Gun.
The Burtonverse Batmobile
The classic Tim Burton Batmobile from Batman 89 and Batman Returns makes a welcome appearance. You might call it the Burtonversemobile. Or not. It’s in good nick too.
Classic Batwing Feels
And on classic vehicles, it’s nice to see the Batwing take a central role too. Fans of Tim Burton’s Batman movie will remember the Batwing, and Batman flying it low along Broad Avenue to remove Joker’s Smylex balloons that were designed to kill the assembled crowd. Towards the end of that sequence, Joker gets off a shot that hits the Batwing direct, causing it to crash and burn.
We wouldn’t see the Batwing again until Batman Forever – but it was a second version developed following the original’s destruction. However, at some point in the years between then and the 2013 setting of The Flash, Keaton’s Wayne must have built another modelled closely on the OG flying machine but taking elements from the one in Batman Forever.
Because the Batwing we see in The Flash – in which, during at least one version of events in the battle against Zod, he perishes – has striking callbacks.
The Joker’s Laugh
The Joker’s laughing bag from the end of Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman makes an appearance! After Jack Nicholson’s Joker has fallen to his death, and the authorities gather around his body on the ground, he’s laughing – on loop. Pat Hingle’s Commissioner Gordon reaches into the inside pocket of Joker’s jacket and pulls out a silky drawstring bag from which the laughter is emanating.
Michael Keaton’s Bruce Wayne has this in The Flash in his Batcave – which is discovered and remarked on by the younger version of Barry Allen.
Tim Burton’s Batman is endlessly quotable, with actors including stars Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson delivering lines in the most memorable way. So to see Keaton’s Bruce Wayne repeating his classic lines “I’m Batman” and “You want to get nuts? Let’s get nuts!” from the Burtonverse in The Flash is a trip.
Hank the Dog
In the film’s opening action sequence, where The Flash rushes to help save babies on a maternity ward as Gotham General hospital collapses, he also saves a therapy dog alongside the children and a nurse.
There’s a therapy dog from the Doom Patrol comics called Hank, adopted by Negative Man – aka Larry Trainor – as a support animal to help him with his trauma. The Doom Patrol are allies of the Justice League, and in the comics they’re known to have had their history largely unaffected by the Flash’s timeline alteration in the Flashpoint arc, on which The Flash movie is based.
If you look closely at the posters and pictures on display in Barry Allen’s apartment, you’ll notice at least one Egyptian image. In the comic books, The Flash travels back to ancient Egypt and meets Black Adam, Doctor Fate, and Hawkman – all introduced in the Black Adam movie – before they adopted their modern day identities.
This is a subtle way of tying the mythologies of both movies together and embedding both more deeply within the DC Extended Universe that it’s part of. It could also potentially have been a subliminal set-up for future team-ups that might now never happen.
There’s a comic-book shop in the background in one scene called Whizz. While at first glance, it might seem like a reference to The Flash’s speed, it also recalls Whiz Comics. This anthology comic book series is notable for being the publication in which Shazam – formerly Captain Marvel – made his debut.
Another shop in the background is named Grayson’s. It’s a barber’s. Batman fans – and to be honest, anyone with a passing interest in the Dark Knight – will immediately recognise this as the surname of the Caped Crusader’s sidekick, Dick Grayson. Grayson’s alias was, of course, Robin before he went on to adopt the mantle of Nightwing.
Interestingly, Dick Grayson’s hair has changed a lot within the DC Animated Universe – a lot of the styles he has sported considered bad – and there are videos and threads online discussing it. Could this be a sly nod to this fan discourse?
Posters with the most
There are a handful of movie posters that can be seen adorning the walls of Barry Allen’s apartment, and they’re mainly, fittingly, Warner Bros titles. V For Vendetta is one, which, like The Flash, began life as a comic book.
Read more: The troubled timeline of The Flash
There’s also a Mars Attacks! poster, though. This zany cameo-stuffed alien invasion comedy is another Warner Bros film, notable for its director Tim Burton – who directed Michael Keaton as the Caped Crusader in Batman and Batman Returns – and the casting of Jack Nicholson. Nicholson’s Joker has a presence in The Flash via his laughter bag. Mars Attacks! also features Danny DeVito – who played Oswald Cobblepot aka the Penguin in Batman Returns.
People talk about blink-and-you’ll-miss it cameos but rarely are they cameos where that’s actually the case. In the case of Nikolaj Coster-Waldau in The Flash, it is. The Game of Thrones star can be seen eating in the street in a moment that flashes past in a heartbeat. What’s interesting about this is that Coster-Waldau is an actor fan-cast in DC roles like Ares and Two-Face but who has yet to make an appearance in the DC Universe.
Some fans are saying they’re hoping he’s Reverse Flash… and some are speculating he’d make a great new Batman, not least because The Flash director Andy Muschietti has been tied to the upcoming Batman film The Brave and the Bold. Muschietti worked with Coster-Waldau in his earlier film Mama and saw fit to include him briefly here.
So is there a chance that this fleeting glimpse of the Danish Jaime Lannister actor signals a major role in an upcoming DC movie? We’ll have to wait and see.
And speaking of fleeting cameos, the film’s director has one towards the end of the film. We see him standing outside the courtroom eating a hot dog when the Flash comes along and swipes it out of his hand.
Patty and Albert
We meet two characters called Patty and Albert – in the past timeline, Patty is Barry’s roommate, and Albert her boyfriend.
In the comics, Patty Spivot was the blood expert for the Central City Police Department crime lab and worked alongside Barry. They ended up dating. Patty appears in The Flash TV series as part of the Arrowverse.
The comic books also include a character named Albert Desmond, who was a CCPD forensic scientist. He became a supervillain known as Doctor Alchemy
There’s a nod to a character named Summer Gleeson via the sign on a van in the background in one scene. Summer Gleeson first appeared in Batman: The Animated Series but versions of the character have appeared throughout the DC universe. She’s an alternative to Vicki Vale, who featured in Burton’s Batman film played by Kim Basinger, and is a TV reporter.
This is especially noteworthy because of the multiverse shenanigans in the film.
Gotham City Pizza
You might notice a Gotham City Pizza box in the kitchen of Wayne Manor. Back when Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight came out, a Domino’s tie-in led to the creation of a Gotham City Pizza on the chain’s menu – and there was a TV commercial to advertise it. Meanwhile, the film The Dark Knight itself featured a Gotham City Pizzeria.
The Flash is available to rent or buy on digital now. Watch a trailer below.