Warner Bros. Has to Confront Their Ezra Miller Problem

The studio says they might scrap The Flash but are still holding out hope that Miller can right their careening ship.

Warner Bros. Has to Confront Their Ezra Miller Problem
Ezra Miller attends the First Annual “Time 100 Next” gala at Pier 17 in New York City in 2019. Photo:Getty Images

After reportedly starting a cult in Iceland, allegedly grooming underage children, throwing a chair at a woman and harassing innocent karaoke crooners inside a Hawaiian bar, and most recently, getting charged with felony burglary, Ezra Miller might finally lose their job. Maybe.

Despite Warner Bros. CEO David Zaslav saying just last week that he was “very excited about” Miller’s The Flash, it seems like the pile of growing evidence against the actor is heaped too high to ignore. Yesterday, Rolling Stone reported that Vermont’s children service department is looking for the mother and three children who had been living on Miller’s farm. And on Thursday The Hollywood Reporter revealed that the studio is, just now, looking at three potential outcomes for Miller’s future with the DC Comics franchise. They read like some sort of Goldilocks parable.

The first is that Ezra Miller enters therapy and some sort of rehabilitation program that would then allow them to do a sit-down interview and explain their erratic and violent behavior. This avenue, according to the source, would also allow Miller to participate in limited press for the film, which premieres in June 2023. While I hope that Miller gets the help they need, I don’t think a gab-sesh on Jimmy Kimmel’s couch is the appropriate outlet to defend grooming underage children. I’ve read enough pop psychology books to suspect that the motivation of “getting to do limited press” might not be enough to turn around the actor’s behavior. The situation has escalated beyond a TV host sympathetically asking Miller if they regret their actions. I’m not advocating for carceral justice, but a late-night press tour doesn’t seem like the best punishment for criminal behavior.

The second scenario is what I’m calling the Death on the Nile treatment where the studio doesn’t include Miller in any media appearance to promote the movie and would drop them from further franchise installments. After sexual assault accusations against Armie Hammer came out, Disney did not include him in any media promotions for Death on the Nile, and his role was generally downplayed in the press. This might be the least offensive of the three options, the baby-bear bed choice: Just right. Keep Miller out of the spotlight, release the movie, and then move on from the whole fiasco without them. The actor likely signed a standard morality clause, which allows a studio to distance itself from an actor’s bad behavior. So this probably makes the most sense for the studio, too.

The third and least likely scenario is that the studio scraps the $200 million movie entirely. THR describes this decision as an “unprecedented move.” Though, lest we forget, Warner Bros. did precisely this to the $90 million Batgirl just last week for, essentially, tax reasons. (No one in that cast currently seems to have any underage grooming allegations against them.) This decision, unfortunately, negatively affects the many innocent and hardworking people who’ve brought The Flash to life, which is my only hesitancy about fully embracing it. Plus, we’d also lose out on seeing Michael Keaton reprise his role as Batman, something no one wants.

As someone who once lost a job for letting two kids watch more television than their parents recommended, it would be nice to see a serial harasser be held accountable in Hollywood. (Granted, a $200 million budget wasn’t on the line for my babysitting gig.) Going forward with The Flash as is, without reprimanding Miller in any way, sends a clear message of Warner Bros.’ priorities: making that sweet, sweet, money. This isn’t a surprise by any means, that’s what companies do (okay someone give me an honorable MBA.) But this situation feels like such a clear opportunity to draw a line about acceptable behavior. It would be disappointing to see the studio completely ignore it for the sake of profits and a press tour.

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