The cancellation of Batgirl was a big surprise to many. Especially since the film was already filmed. It was already going through post-production. Meaning they were just doing special effects and editing.
There was a lot to get excited about. Fans were looking forward to seeing Leslie Grace in action as the new heroine. Add that Michael Keaton will also be returning as Batman from the Tim Burton films. And Brendan Fraser, who has been making a big comeback recently, will be playing the villain as Firefly. I, for one, was even looking forward to seeing J.K. Simmons back as Commissioner Gordon, which he played in Justice League.
For reasons unknown to the public, the film was canned. And it was used as a tax-write off. The movie itself cost $90 million to make. But it’s reported that the cancellation saved Warner Bros Discovery over $2 billion.
At the recent press conference for the new DC slate, DC Studios co-CEO Peter Safran said:
There were a lot of incredibly talented people in front and behind the camera on that film. But that film was not releasable. And it happens sometimes. And I actually think that [Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David] Zaslav and the team made a very bold and courageous decision to cancel it because it would have hurt DC and it would have hurt the people involved in making it. [‘Batgirl’] would not have been able to compete in the theatrical marketplace. It was built for the small screen. And so again, you know, I think that it was not an easy decision, but they made the right decision.
Peter Safran Says Batgirl Was Unreleasable
Batgirl was supposed to be part of the DCEU, and it was planned to be released on HBO Max. It was the first DC Film that was made specifically for the streaming service. This also meant, the filmmakers didn’t have the flexibility as previous DCEU movies.
Before WarnerMedia was bought by Discovery, Warner had a heavy emphasis on streaming content. At the time, AT&T owned WarnerMedia, and they felt that they were trying to catch up with Amazon Prime and Netflix.
Even DC’s Blue Beetle was also planned as a TV movie before they started filming.
This is why WarnerMedia was sold to Discovery. AT&T didn’t have the resources to keep up with the competition.
When WarnerMedia and Discovery finalised the merger, Batgirl and a few other projects got cancelled. The Batgirl movie was the only DC-related project that got scrapped, however, several more Warner Bros projects, such as Scooby! Holiday Haunt and Raised by Wolves also ended up on the cutting room floor.
Back in August 2022, Batgirl co-director Adil El Arbi stated in an interview with the SKRIPT:
The guys from Warners told us it was not a talent problem from our part or the actress, or even the quality of the movie. They told us it was a strategic change. There was new management, and they wanted to save some money.
Based on this, it feels a bit contradictory to what Peter Safran is saying. There was no problem with the quality, but at the same time, it was not releasable.
When the president of Warner Bros Discovery, David Zaslav, came into power. It was obvious that he didn’t like the direction of the new DC movies. While looking for someone to lead the new DC Films, Zaslav and his team reviewed and cancelled projects that didn’t fit into their vision for the DC Universe.
This also resulted in many reshoots for The Flash and the Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom. Not only that, but this also allowed Henry Cavill to cameo as Superman in Dwayne Johnson’s Black Adam. Batgirl and several other projects were casualties of Zaslav’s vision for the DC Universe.
Batgirl Would Have Hurt DC
Without the post-production done for Batgirl, there is very little chance of us seeing the film. That is unless DC Studios changes its mind about it sometime in the future. They still need a big budget to finish the movie before the public can see it. And there might be legal issues too, since the film has been used for the tax-write-off.
As James Gunn has said, anything that doesn’t fit into the DC Universe is branded as Elseworlds. A DC brand which uses familiar characters but used in a different world, like Batman living in the 19th century or Superman landing in Soviet Russia instead of America.
Batgirl could be part of Elseworlds if they get to show it. It is weird when you think about it. The casting alone is wild. Michael Keaton’s Batman meeting J.K. Simmons’ Commissioner Gordon. I mean, there will be some confusion there because Keaton’s Batman already had the late Pat Hingle play Gordon in Tim Burton’s Batman.
Hingle even reprised his role up until George Clooney’s Batman and Robin. Not to mention he again reprised the role in a TV commercial some years later. In other words, the movie needs a lot of explaining to do. Ezra Miller’s The Flash was supposed to explain it all.
Personally, I do think that Batgirl wasn’t released because of the new DC narrative that the studio is trying to build. It’s not because of the quality of the film. Yes, it’s made for TV or streaming services, but that was expected.
But releasing it would have confused the general audience because it was using familiar characters we’ve seen in previous films. Even though fans would know that this could be an ‘Elseworlds’ film, it just wouldn’t work. In other words, I do kind of agree that the film might have hurt DC as a whole. But at the same time disappointed that we won’t see it.
I would have wanted to see Leslie Grace’s Batgirl. A few months ago, there were reports that she was offered to return for the role but has declined.
What do you think of Batgirl not being released? Do you think Peter Safran was right, saying this was “unreleasable?” Let us know what you think in the comments below.
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