Warner Bros has officially cancelled Batgirl, revealing that the movie will not be released “due to a strategic shift”.
The film, directed by Bad Boys For Life’s Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah, and starring Leslie Grace, J.K. Simmons, Michael Keaton and Brendan Fraser, was meant to be released this year on HBO Max exclusively.
But now Warner Bros has shelved the project which was shot and heavily into post production, at a reported cost of $90 million. According to a statement released, the reason was not to do with the quality of the performance, as has been heavily rumored.
“The decision to not release Batgirl reflects our leadership’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.”
Scoob! Holiday Haunt is also mentioned in the statement. This was meant to be an animated sequel to the recent Scoobie Doo movie but this has also been dropped by Warner Bros.
While strategic shifts are common in the movie world – we saw this with a move away from the ‘Snyderverse’ DC movies – but to not release a nearly finished movie is a bold and rather unprecedented move.
It all comes in the wake of the recent merger between Warner Bros and Discovery. Batgirl was a movie greenlit before this merger, as was the upcoming The Flash and Blue Beetle movies (as well as the in-production Aquaman sequel, Shazam sequel and greenlit Wonder Woman 3).
There’s no word on whether or not those films will be affected by this strategic shift, however The Flash has already had its release date moved and this has seemingly had repercussions for other DC movies.
Batgirl leaves a Batman problem
The key change here has to do with Michael Keaton. His arrival in the DC Universe as an older Batman, reviving the role he had in the Tim Burton movies, was seen as a big, positive move by fans.
It mirrored a similar shift with what’s happening in the Marvel world, where the Multiverse storyline allows writers to bring in previous versions of superheroes, played by their original actors.
The problem is, DC’s own multiverse storyline was meant to be kickstarted by The Flash. The film’s delay has meant that cameos Keaton has made in other movies, which were meant to be released after The Flash, are now out of sync.
Case in point Aquaman And The Lost Kingdom. A light-hearted Instagram post by star Jason Momoa confirmed that Ben Affleck was back as Batman for this movie.
It’s unconfirmed but it is thought that Michael Keaton was originally meant to have a cameo in this film and that is likely to have changed because the film’s release date has changed – it’s now coming out before The Flash.
Keaton was also a big factor in Batgirl. Batgirl, despite being an HBO Max exclusive, was the movie where Keaton’s Batman was going to make his long-awaited appearance. This will now not be the case.
The cancelling of Batgirl raises more questions than it gives answers about Warner’s strategic shift with its DC properties.
It’s thought that Warner’s wants to focus on big-budget, big screen movies for its superheroes and Batgirl is a casualty of this shift.
Given how intrinsically tied the DC movies are to telling a larger tale, though, it leaves its current superhero puzzle with one key piece missing.
By Marc Chacksfield