Bat girls for life? — Nothing about Batgirl said ‘cancel worthy’
A wedding present gone wrong – devastating news arrived during Adil El Arbi’s wedding in Morocco.His and Billal Fallah’s (Bad Boys for Life, Ms Marvel) passion project, Batgirl, got scrapped by Warner Bros. Being on the last stages of production, Adil and Billal took a week off from editing, never to return.
The $90 million project starred Leslie Grace, for whom this could’ve been an opportunity to break-out and enter the spotlight of the film industry. The plot saw Michael Keaton’s Batman become mentor for the titular character Barbara Gordon (Batgirl), who is a daughter of Gothams’ Commissioner Gordon (J.K Simmons). During the cancellation, the cast too got completely ‘blindsided’.
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Who killed Batgirl? Inside the $90m decision that shocked Hollywood
by Robbie Collin
The reasons for this decision still remain undisclosed. Some assume that since the screen tests started, the movie was just irredeemably bad and unwatchable. Whereas Robbie Collin of The Telegraph suggests that this movie being dunked because of its quality doesn’t make logical sense.
Instead he argues ‘it can’t be said that dreadfulness has traditionally been a barrier to entry’.
Continuing to compare the film to other less successful superhero films, Collin said ‘Look at Morbius, Fantastic Four or Catwoman, or the original 2017 well-we-have-to-put-out-something cut of Justice League – a film which was all but reshot from scratch four months from release.’
Sonic the Hedgehog’s infamous trailer released in April 2019, which after getting tons of critique and backlash, also resulted in Paramount announcing a full rework to the design of the main character.
The movie went through a shredder, almost every scene had to be redone. And in January 2020, the public saw a new design on the big screen.
So even if Batgirl was an unreleasable flop, history shows it still could have had a future.
The other potential reason was taxes. If parts of the movie had to be reworked and redone, Warner Bros. would have to spend another estimated $80 million, so a tax write-down could make sense. A tax write-down basically means that the movie could not be watched in any legal way. It will be erased from the face of the earth.
‘Its progressive credentials seemed immaculate’, wrote the Telegraph’s Robbie Collin. He listed: an afro-latin lead, Leslie Grace, for whom it was supposed to be a breakthrough; creators of the two best-rated Ms. Marvel episodes Adil El Arbi and Billal Fallah in the directors’ chairs; famous for Birds of Pray Cristina Hodson as the screenwriter, and a transgender supporting star Alysia Yeoh. Nothing about Batgirl said ‘cancel worthy’.
Furthermore, Batgirl was no Flash. Ezra Miller’s Flash, as of now, is still coming to big screens in 2023 despite all the controversies and the allegations against him, namely assault charges.
According to Variety’s sources, The Flash, which has a budget of $200 million, ‘simply costs too much’ for Warner Bros. to be scrapped entirely. Reshooting with a new actor to replace Miller is also not an option since it is ‘cost-prohibitive’ because the actor is ‘in virtually every scene.’
But throwing out $90 million for Batgirl is apparently not too much for Warner Bros. to handle.
A young filmmaker commented on how “it is utterly f***ed up that projects like Flash are still greenlighted, while Batgirl, a breath of fresh air from all the white male superheroes, gets cancelled.”
Movies are not viewed as a pieces of art anymore — they are investment assets. If something does not work, they can simply be dumped. However, it is not only the movie itself that gets flushed down the drain. It is people’s careers and years of their lives. Actors, directors, and even small businesses in Glasgow, where they filmed, all the time and energy spent on the project.
“I think that it’s very disrespectful and inconsiderate to the people, the directors and the crew who worked on the movie”, a young filmmaker from Ukraine told Harbingers’ Magazine.
Over the last weekend, a flow of media support covered Adil and Billal’s socials. Big Hollywood names reached out to the directors to offer their support. Kevin Feige, who has worked with the pair before on Ms. Marvel, wrote a heartfelt message to them, saying he was sorry to hear ‘the disappointing news about Batgirl’.
This kind of media coverage highlights the actual scale of the problem. But Could this be the point at which directors and actors start reconsidering their choice to work with Warner Bros.?
Adil and Billal are just starting out on the ‘big cinema’ scale and it’s important for big-name studios like Warner Bros. to give young and new places a chance.
The studio announced they would love to work with Batgirl’s crew again, but there is little chance the crew would feel the same.
Time will tell whether Batgirls’ cancellation will have any repercussions on Warner Bros. and the film industry in general, for at least one Ukrainian filmmaker I spoke with was clear that “as a young person just starting out in the film industry, I do not want to experience the same treatment Adil and Billal did”.