Last month, it was announced that the upcoming DC Batgirl film had been axed by Warner Bros, despite the fact that the movie was already in the final stages of post-production.
Shooting for Batgirl, which was filmed entirely in Glasgow, wrapped earlier this year in March, with the production anticipating a release later in 2022.
Why has Batgirl been scrapped?
According to a source speaking to the New York Post, Batgirl has been “shelved” by Warner Bros entirely following poor test screenings with audiences.
The source said: “They think an unspeakable Batgirl is going to be irredeemable.”
Collider added that some unnamed people who had seen the unfinished film said it was a “huge disappointment and looked cheap in comparison to other films”.
The initial budget for the film had been $75 million, however, due to Covid-19 related delays and extra measures, it had ballooned to $90 million.
TheWrap reported that Warner Bros felt that Batgirl “simply did not work”, and that it went against CEO David Zaslav’s desire for DC films to be “big theatrical event films”.
Alongside Batgirl, it was also announced that Warner Bros also axed Scoob! Holiday Haunt as well.
A Warner Bros spokesperson said: “The decision not to release Batgirl reflects our leadship’s strategic shift as it relates to the DC universe and HBO Max.
“Leslie Grace is an incredibly talented actor and this decision is not a reflection of her performance.
“We are incredibly grateful to the filmmakers of Batgirl and Scoob! Holiday Haunt and their respective casts and we hope to collaborate with everyone again in the near future.”
Reacting the news on social media, directors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Falah wrote in a joint statement: “We are saddened and shocked by the news. We still can’t believe it. As directors, it is critical that our work be shown to audiences, and while the film was far from finished, we wish that fans all over the world would have had the opportunitiy to see and embrace the final film themselves. Maybe one day they will insha’Allah.”
Who was in the cast?
The decision to totally shelf Batgirl is unusual considering the cast for the film was fairly high profile.
Leslie Grace, best known as the breakout star from the 2021 film In the Heights, was due to play Barbara Gordon, aka Batgirl herself.
Oscar winning actor J.K Simmons (Spider-Man: No Way Home, Night Sky) was cast in the role of Batgirl’s father, Commissioner Jim Gordon, Michael Keaton (Dopesick, Birdman) was going to return as Batman, and Brendan Fraser (The Whale, The Mummy) was also going to co-star as villain Firefly.
Talking to Variety, Grace said: “It was an incredible learning experience to be on set with also action veterans like Brendan Fraser, and soak up it all up.
“It was so hard because he’s our villain and I’m not supposed to like him but he’s such a huge teddy bear.
“He is one of the nicest people that I’ve ever met. In our fight sequences the way he would just hit marks, it came from all of his experience. You can’t improvise that kind of experience.
“There’s some crazy stuff that happens. There’s lots of fire because as everyone knows by now, he plays Firefly. There’s crazy fire. There’s crazy stunts, crazy drops.
“[Batgirl is] a biker chick, so you’re going to see her do a bunch of badassery.”
In the same interview, Grace also teased a potential sequel, saying: “There’s definitely some talks about what it could be.
“I’ve seen some of what we’ve shot, obviously in the playback and stuff like that, and it’s insane.
“We’ve already been talking about where do we take this from here because there’s so much that happens in this film.”
Directing duo Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah, billed as Adil & Bilall, were Batgirl’s directors. They previously directed films like Bad Boys for Life, starring Will Smith and Martin Lawrence, Gangsta, Black, Image and episodes of Ms. Marvel, Soil and Snowfall.
What has Brendan Faser said?
Speaking to Variety, Fraser said that the decision to shelve the near-completed film was “tragic”, and that the move “doesn’t engender trust among filmmakers and the studio”.
He said: “Leslie Grace was fantastic. She’s a dynamo, just a spot-on performer. Everything that we shot was real and exciting and just the antithesis of doing a straightforward digital all-green screen thing. They ran firetrucks around downtown Glasgow at three in the morning, and they had flamethrowers. It was a big budget movie, but one that was just stripped down to the essentials.”