If Warner Brothers’ expensive superhero film The Flash is released next summer — and does not follow the fate of this year’s Batgirl, which has been summarily canceled — it will be fascinating to watch what the publicity circus does with its leading man. Or, to be more exact, leading human, as its star Ezra Miller has dismissed conventional ideas of being pigeonholed as anything conventional. They declared in 2018 that, “Queer just means no, I don't do that. I don't identify as a man. I don't identify as a woman. I barely identify as...

If Warner Brothers’ expensive superhero film The Flash is released next summer — and does not follow the fate of this year’s Batgirl, which has been summarily canceled — it will be fascinating to watch what the publicity circus does with its leading man. Or, to be more exact, leading human, as its star Ezra Miller has dismissed conventional ideas of being pigeonholed as anything conventional. They declared in 2018 that, “Queer just means no, I don’t do that. I don’t identify as a man. I don’t identify as a woman. I barely identify as a human.”

It is perhaps not a long path from these statements to Miller’s recent announcement that they are finally attempting to put their wildly chaotic life in some sort of order. In a carefully worded statement provided — possibly through gritted teeth — by the actor’s representative to the trade magazine Variety, Miller stated that, “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. 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.”

If this is taken at face value, it provides a welcome repudiation of Miller’s increasingly bizarre actions over the past few months, which have included being charged with felony burglary in Vermont after allegedly stealing liquor, harassing a family in Massachusetts, housing a family in Vermont on what is reputedly both a cannabis farm and a place where weapons and ammunition are freely available and attacking patrons at a Hawai’i karaoke bar. There are more, of course. It seems as if anyone present in the vicinity of Ezra Miller would be advised to run extremely fast, as otherwise the inevitable result would be chaos, often with a side order of intense crisis.

Miller remains — perhaps to the irritation of some who would simply like to see them canceled — an excellent actor. Their performance in We Need To Talk About Kevin remains a masterclass in coiled aggression, and their quirky incarnation of Barry Allen’s Flash character was one of the very few bright spots in the otherwise interminable Justice League film. It suggests that The Flash should be a hugely entertaining film with an eccentric but unmissable star performance in it. But, at a time when any problematic actor is canceled before you an say “Johnny Depp,” why does Miller still have this apparently Svengali-like hold on the executives at Warner Brothers?

Part of the reason is prosaic. The Flash is a $200 million blockbuster, and scrapping it would be a hugely expensive write-off. And with Miller in virtually every scene of the film, elaborate reshoots would be impossible. Given the relative failure of Warner Brothers’ streaming service HBO Max, it is unlikely that releasing the film that way is a possibility either, which means it is better to have their 2023 summer tentpole out in cinemas, with a chastened and penitent star fulfilling their publicity commitments without further incident.

Yet it’s also tempting to wonder whether Miller’s showily non-binary status is also frightening an industry that has been bending over backwards not to offend an increasingly politicized and vocal section of society. While most LGBTQ people look at Miller’s actions in the same aghast way as everyone else, there are inevitably those who will defend Miller on the grounds that they are somehow being persecuted and that their extraordinary behavior is in fact nothing more than a manifestation of this complex.

This is plainly bogus; otherwise, the entire non-binary community would be doing their best impersonation of a gang of feral savages at all times. But Miller’s strange ability to cling onto their career and public reputation, with an indulgence unoffered to the likes of Depp and Armie Hammer, may suggest that there are different calculations at play than simple commercial expediency. In any case, we shall find out two things before long: whether The Flash is any good, and if Miller can somehow restrain themselves from actions that will land them in prison before their film is released.