The DC Comics movie Batgirl has been pulled from theatrical and streaming releases despite costing $90 million to make, the New York Post reported on Tuesday. Warner Bros. has apparently killed the project altogether, after it had completed principal photography earlier this year and was already in post-production.
According to Variety, “studio insiders” say the decision isn’t due to the quality of the film, directed by Ms. Marvel filmmakers Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah, but a shift in priorities at Warner Bros. Batgirl was greenlit in 2021 as “part of a company-wide effort at Warner Bros. to create feature films specifically for HBO Max,” Variety notes. But the studio is now focusing on theatrical features, and this leaves Batgirl without a home.
The New York Post, however, reports that Batgirl had been “doing test screenings for audiences in anticipation of a late 2022 debut,” and that “those tests were said to be so poorly received by moviegoers that the studio decided to cut its losses and run, for the sake of the brand’s future.” Yike.
Batgirl was slated to star Leslie Grace as the titular Batgirl alongside J.K. Simmons as her on-screen father, Commissioner Jim Gordon, and Michael Keaton himself reprising his role as Batman. The movie was notably written by Birds of Prey writer Christina Hodson. “There’s crazy stunts, crazy drops,” Grace has previously said of the film. “She’s a biker chick, so you’re going to see her do a bunch of badassery… There were a lot of long days, but it was so worth it.” Now that Warner Bros. has pulled the movie, fans won’t get to see any of this badassery.
Although Variety’s sources say the decision to axe the project wasn’t due to quality, I have to wonder if the studio would really cut a $90 million movie altogether solely because of a sudden strategy pivot. $90 million is, like, a lot of money!! The “badassery” quote certainly raises a question or two about possible cringey “girlboss” lines and plot points, but still, just scrapping the entire project—starring, written, and directed by women and people of color—seems… dramatic.
All the more so given other projects Warner Bros. still appears to be moving forward with: Ezra Miller’s The Flash, for instance, remains slated for a 2023 release. This, of course, is despite how Miller is accused of grooming teens and going on the run with an Indigenous teen whose parents have accused Miller of grooming their child. Miller has been missing for almost two months now, evading being served court papers. Trouble started brewing for Miller earlier this year when they had several run-ins with law enforcement on vacation in Hawaii, allegedly starting fights, breaking into guests’ hotel rooms, and making threats to other tourists.
Warner Bros. has reportedly been weighing how to handle Miller’s upcoming movie given their recent behavior—but it certainly hasn’t pulled the plug on the project. Nevertheless, the studio clearly had no trouble throwing out a movie starring an Afro-Latinx heroine. Grace, her fellow cast-mates, and others who worked on Batgirl have yet to speak out on what exactly happened, and we all have lots and lots of questions.