Op/Ed: Warner Bros. Chose Ezra Miller and White Privilege Over Latinx & Trans Representation

Ezra Miller’s alleged behav ior is the conundrum du jour for Warner Bros.’ The Flash.

Arts Movies & Television Triston Brewer

This article was published on October 24th, 2022

As a collective, audiences are used to Hollywood doing damage control on huge international movie stars, often going above and beyond the norms in order to protect what they think is an unbelievable talent that is too important to the company’s bottom line. We’ve also seen films shifted and re-cast after debacles that cause a sh*tstorm of controversy less than five years ago, Kevin Spacey was replaced in Ridley Scott’s All the Money in the World after accusations of sexual harassment and assault splashed across headlines on both sides of the Atlantic.

Even more recently, Johnny Depp was replaced in Fantastic Beasts by Mads Mikkelsen for allegations of spousal abuse. But now that we have endured months (possibly years, by some accounts) of the particular misgivings and misfortunes of Ezra Miller, even the most casual observer is wondering why he continues to enjoy the support of a studio despite countless claims of abuse and inappropriate conduct by him?

Ezra Miller Has Hit After Hit, And NOT The Ones Hollywood Likes

Ezra Miller has more hits than Madonna’s latest album compilation, and unlike her collecting them across 30 years, Ezra got all of his in less than 1. Warner Bros. still has planned to release his superhero movie The Flash despite a slew of assault charges racked up against him. Since 2020, Miller has been in the news for a plethora of things, none of which include a movie release. They have involved charges of grooming, assault – the list goes on and on and on. In 2020, Miller was seen on camera choking a woman in Iceland at a bar. In May of this year, he was arrested for spitting in someone’s face in a bar in Hawaii. He was subsequently arrested again for throwing a chair at a woman, all the while proclaiming his insistence at not being searched by a man as he identifies as non-binary now. 

If only the charges stopped there. 

Only a few weeks later, Miller was again making headlines, and this time for allegedly grooming a young boy since he was just 12 years old and Miller as 23. Next, the family sought an order of protection against Miller when the actor threatened the parents with a gun and behaving inappropriately with her child. And still, after all these allegations and questionable antics, Warner Bros. is standing by their man investment. 

The Art of Deflection, Hollywood Style

Through a series of rants, whether coherent or not, it has become readily apparent that Ezra Miller is hiding behind a group that has historically been marginalized to minimize accountability for abusive behavior. Kevin Spacey used the same tactics when he finally came out of the closet after being accused of sexual assault. Jussie Smollett and Amber Heard also incorporated such defensive tactics to deflect from their abusive behavior, each to varying degrees of success.

The conundrum in Miller’s particular case, however, is there has been no repercussions for his dangerous behavior. The Flash continues to be supported by the full weight of the studio, even after Miller used his social media to taunt the police while trying to locate him. He is still attached to high-profile projects and yet has no serious legal or criminal reprisals to speak of. 

Where is the accountability? 

Why is Warner Bros. still – after this much bad press – backing someone this volatile?

Ezra Miller is not an international box office star with a plethora of hits on his resume. 

He is not The Rock.

He is not Vin Diesel. 

He is not Tom Cruise. 

If you were to take a lunchtime poll at any school in America or abroad, not many would be able to identify him based on name alone. He is, by and large, an unknown Hollywood commodity cast in a $200 million dollar film in a cinematic universe that is bereft with problems currently. According to insiders, The Flash film is viewed to be the most pivotal in the studio’s revamp and is meant to reset the entire universe of their comic book films. Therefore, lots of money is riding on this one movie, and it is – at this point – bigger than Ezra Miller. 

Which is probably part of the reason why we will never see Batgirl, which was shelved by Warner Bros. for being “mediocre” despite earning the same review ratings as The Flash. It seems as if the studio would rather risk further eyerolls and neck twists by the public over this soft reboot of DC Films than 86 Ezra Miller, shelve that film, and do what seems to be the right move to make. And to be clear, Warner Bros. has other options it could pursue but have made no moves to thus far. As in:

1) Recast Ezra Miller and reshoot The Flash with another actor. 

It’s been done before by other large-scale movies to varying degrees of success. And if Warner Bros. is willing to eat $90-120 million on a shelved Batgirl (with a star in Leslie Grace with NO criminal charges against her, mind you), then is Ezra Miller to previous for the same treatment?

2) Release the film as is, and center Batgirl and Batman

Batgirl was highly anticipated as it returned the first man cast in a feature film about the beloved character, Michael Keaton, back in the cape, along with DC’s version of Supergirl. With Ezra’s version of The Flash on the outskirts of the film, damage control would be in place. File this one under ‘the Armie Hammer directive’.

3) Send The Flash straight to streamer HBO Max

The cheapest option of the three, the merger between HBO and Warner Bros. would send The Flashdirect to homes, avoid expensive international marketing costs, and still give the other performers in the film a chance to be seen for their contributions.

Warner Bros. Meets New Hollywood

Warner Bros. has had over a year to act, but now that they have dragged their asses on this issue and this actor, it may be up to the general ticket-buying public to make the decision for them. There has already been a backlash against the studio for shelving Batgirl and its Afro-Latina and queer stars. Leslie Grace as Batgirl and trans actress Ivory Aquino as Alysia Yeoh were seen as steps in the right direction for the studio.

There has already been a petition to boycott Ezra Miller from future roles or to be recast, and the movie has yet to come out. Whether Warner Bros. ultimately shelves an even more expensive project or runs with it, the damage has been done and Ezra Miller will forever be seen as the case study into how Hollywood dropped the ball yet again to the detriment of underserved communities. 

All for a bottom line. 

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