Warner cancels 'Batgirl' project already in post-production

The film, helmed by Belgian-Moroccan duo Adil & Bilall, was made for a streaming release on HBO Max later this year.
Warner cancels 'Batgirl' project already in post-production

It's always baffling to understand why studios do what they do, when it comes to cinematic projects. But when DC comics and Warner Bros. are involved, it becomes a true labyrinth of differing opinions, which involves studio heads, fans and critics. That makes up a cacophony that prevents us from ever getting to the truth in the matter.

Some say Batgirl's downfall was the project's huge budget, which of course couldn't be the case, as now over $90 million US have been spent and the film is just going away. Shelved somewhere, nearly finished and that's a huge waste of the above mentioned budget. Some others say the pull is due to a shift in leadership at Warner Bros, as Aaron Couch at The Hollywood Reporter points out "Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav [is] prioritizing cost-cutting measures and refocusing Warners on creating theatrical films rather than projects for streaming." Warner Bros. completed its merger with Discovery in May of 2021, to form a company that includes AT&T’s WarnerMedia and Discovery Inc.

It has also been said the film was shown to test audiences and didn't fare well, though we can't imagine that being true. The beautiful Leslie Grace, from In the Heights would have been the first Latina Barbara Gordon/Batgirl, which would seems to make the test audiences racist... And we all know DC fans aren't that. Or are they? Let's not forget that the project is also helmed by Adil & Bilall, two Belgian filmmakers with roots in the MENA, who are responsible for another badass Muslim comics heroine, Ms. Marvel, which fared well on Disney +. Yet the consensus around the world seems to silence Arab filmmaking voices at the moment, in a very subdued and manipulative way. But more on that to come this month.

The casting seemed all around brilliant, with Michael Keaton as Batman, J.K. Simmons as Gordon's father, the Commissioner James Gordon, and Brendan Fraser as the villain Firefly.

Another rumor surfacing is about the film not being "big enough" for the big screen and not "small enough" to stream. Eh? What? We didn't get that either and loved the behind-the-scenes photos leaked of the Gotham set in Glasgow. It looked both big enough and small enough. And sometimes it's just not about size.

Ultimately, as Peter Bradshaw points out in The Guardian, studio execs have always shown their "virility" by shelving projects. However, even the seasoned critic admits this hasn't been done before, for a fully finished film. Which has already been made and is ready to be screened for eager audiences around the world.

The New York Post first reported the film was being scrapped, it was called "irredeemable" behind the scenes, and disclosed that the action of removing it completely, so audiences will never ever get to watch it, was to save the brand's name.

Whatever the reason, it follows a dangerous trend of talented professionals being used up, chewed and discarded, leaving the final decision in the hands of studio executives who don't really care much about cinema, rather about the bottom line. And we hear this is only the beginning of the cuts and daggers at Warner Bros. Discovery.

Update 8/4: Leslie Grace took to Instagram and I had to share.

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