'I thought I died': The Flash star didn't understand why he was in the DCEU movie

The two Barry Allens and Supergirl look at someone off camera in The Flash movie
The Flash speeds into theaters this June. (Image credit: Warner Bros. Pictures)

Michael Shannon has admitted he didn't understand why he'd been asked to reprise his role as General Zod in The Flash.

Speaking to Looper, Shannon revealed that he was initially confused when The Flash director Andy Muschietti and Warner Bros. asked him to return as one of the DC Cinematic Universe (DCEU) movie's villains. The reason? General Zod died in 2013's Man of Steel, Henry Cavill's Superman snapping his neck to save some innocent bystanders that Zod was trying to kill.

After a brief explanation about The Flash's multiversal and time-travel-based plot, though, Shannon agreed to make his return as the malicious, conquering Kryptonian.

Asked if he was surprised about reprising the role, Shannon said: "I was a little confused. I said: 'As memory serves me, I think I died in Man of Steel. Are they sure they got the right guy?' 

"But then they explained to me the whole multiverse phenomenon. I was a little behind the times on that. I can't say that I'm a huge consumer of this genre of films – not that I have anything against them. If I'm going to watch a movie, the odds are it's not going to be one of those, but I sure love making them."

General Zod looks out onto a battlefield in The Flash movie

General Zod is being positioned as The Flash's main villain. (Image credit: Warner Bros. Pictures)

Interestingly, Shannon also teased how The Flash's version of Zod will differ from the iteration we saw in Man of Steel, as well as hinting that the supervillain may not have as big a role in proceedings as audiences expect.

"He's a little different in this film," Shannon added. "He's a little more... I don't know how to put it. You don't spend as much time with him, so you don't really get to know as much about what he's thinking. It's not necessarily his movie. That's the thing with these multiverse movies – you get a little bit of this and a little bit of that. But it's really Ezra [Miller's] movie."

The Flash, which is due out in theaters on June 16 and is one of 2023's new movies we're most excited for, is set to be one of last movies in the DCEU's current form. According to new DC Studios co-head James Gunn, The Flash "resets the entire DC Universe (DCU)", enabling Gunn and Safran to start shaping Warner Bros' flagship superhero franchise in their image.

We already know some of the film and TV projects in development for DCU Chapter One: Gods and Monsters, too – Gunn revealed the DCU's initial movie and TV show line-up in late January. Among those first projects are a new Superman film, The Batman Part II, and numerous HBO Max shows, such as Lanterns and Booster Gold. Be sure to find out which of those productions are the most exciting DCU movies and TV shows, in our opinion, while you're here.

A villainous tease or a Machiavellian misdirect?

Barry Allen takes a photograph of Supergirl flying in The Flash movie

Who will be the main villain in The Flash movie? (Image credit: Warner Bros. Pictures)

Of all of Shannon's comments, it's those relating to how often we'll see General Zod in The Flash that make for intriguing reading.

The superhero movie's first trailer suggested that Zod would be its primary antagonist. And, while Shannon's comments suggest that could still be the case – Zod could still be its main villain, he just might not appear in many scenes – it leaves the door open for another character to be the film's real big bad.

We don't expect Sasha Calle's Supergirl or Michael Keaton's Batman to turn to the dark side. Both characters are a force for good, despite the trauma they've endured (mainly in the comics, admittedly). So we can remove them from the equation.

We can't, however, completely dismiss the other Barry Allen/Flash that lead star Ezra Miller will play in the movie.

Yes, we see the two Barry Allens – this multiverse stuff is confusing, isn't it? – team up in the movie's trailer. And, based on their other interactions, it seems the alternate dimension version of Barry Allen a) doesn't really know what's going on, and b) hasn't acquired his speedster abilities yet. How could an un-superpowered individual, with no prior knowledge of the multiverse, be such a threat to it?

Well, maybe he's playing dumb. Maybe he'll use the DCEU's Barry Allen to acquire his powers – the trailer suggests the duo recreate the lightning bolt lab experiment to gift this Barry his powers and, in the DCEU's Barry's case, reacquire them if he lost them. Once he does so, maybe he'll perform a heel turn, reveal he was a bad guy all along, and explain his plan to take over the multiverse.

There are various evil incarnations of the Flash in DC comics and the speedster's other live-action shows and films, including Reverse Flash and Dark Flash. There's a possibility, then, that The Flash's alternate reality Barry could be one of these Machiavellian-like individuals. With the film three months away, we'll find out soon enough.

For more DCEU-based coverage, find out how to watch the DCEU movies in order. Additionally, read up on what's worth knowing about Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom.

Senior Entertainment Reporter

As TechRadar's senior entertainment reporter, Tom covers all of the latest movies, TV shows, and streaming service news that you need to know about. You'll regularly find him writing about the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Star Wars, Netflix, Prime Video, Disney Plus, and many other topics of interest.

An NCTJ-accredited journalist, Tom also writes reviews, analytical articles, opinion pieces, and interview-led features on the biggest franchises, actors, directors and other industry leaders. You may see his quotes pop up in the odd official Marvel Studios video, too, such as this Moon Knight TV spot.

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