When news broke earlier this month that Warner Bros. would be shelving the nearly complete “Batgirl” instead of releasing it as planned on HBO Max, it prompted an immediate question: What would become of “The Flash”? While both DC superhero films were highly anticipated, the future of the latter seemed more questionable at times given that it stars Ezra Miller, the 29-year-old actor who has faced multiple criminal charges — in addition to abuse and assault allegations — over the past several months.
As of two weeks ago, when Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav said on a quarterly earnings call that he was “very excited” about upcoming DC titles including “The Flash,” the film is still set for a 2023 release. On Monday, Miller announced they were addressing their “complex mental health issues.”
“Having recently gone through a time of intense crisis, I now understand that I am suffering complex mental health issues and have begun ongoing treatment,” Miller said in a statement shared with The Washington Post. “I want to apologize to everyone that I have alarmed and upset with my past behavior. I am committed to doing the necessary work to get back to a healthy, safe and productive stage in my life.”
The statement arrived after months of silence from Miller about the allegations against them, and amid reported conversations at Warner Bros. about how to handle the $200 million film, which is expected to play a key role in the DC Extended Universe. According to Evan Nierman, a crisis management expert who serves as chief executive of the public-relations firm Red Banyan, this was a logical next step for Warner Bros. because it “puts the onus onto Miller.”
“It takes a situation where someone could be assumed to be criminal or malevolent and turns that into someone who’s worthy of some grace and understanding,” Nierman said. “I suspect Warner Bros. was all-too-happy to go down this road. I don’t know who’s paying for the [treatment], but even if the studio were paying for it, that seems like a pretty worthwhile investment considering what they’ve already poured into the movie itself.”
Reached for comment regarding Miller’s statement, Warner Bros. representatives directed The Washington Post to a publicist for Miller who had no further comment.
Miller has been arrested twice this year in Hawaii — once in March for disorderly conduct and harassment at a karaoke bar, and again in April for allegedly throwing a chair that struck a woman’s face at a private residence. Miller pleaded no contest to the disorderly conduct charge and paid a fine; the harassment charge was dismissed. A temporary restraining order filed by a couple who alleged the actor threatened them was also dropped in April. Last week, Miller was charged with felony burglary in Vermont, where they live, for a May incident in which they allegedly stole bottles of alcohol from a house whose occupants were not present.
Assault allegations against Miller date back to April 2020, when a video went viral in which the actor appeared to be choking a woman in Iceland; no charges were filed. Miller has also faced multiple allegations of abuse and grooming, some of which have resulted in requests for protection orders. In June, according to Rolling Stone, the parents of an 18-year-old sought a restraining order against Miller on behalf of their child, whom they said Miller had groomed for several years after visiting North Dakota’s Standing Rock Reservation. Later that month, the Daily Beast reported that a Massachusetts mother and her 12-year-old were granted a temporary harassment prevention order against Miller after he was allegedly inappropriate toward the child.
It is unclear whether Miller will be involved in future projects as the Flash. Warner Bros. executives have their work cut out for them between now and the current film’s June 2023 release date, according to Nierman.
“The key is going to be, can Ezra Miller stay out of trouble until the premiere?” the crisis management expert said. “I would have to think that Warner Bros. is going to do everything in its power to increase the odds of that.”
This post has been updated.