Batgirl will remain a Hollywood legend for all the wrong reasons. The movie was deep into post-production. It starred Academy Award nominee Michael Keaton, returning to his most famous role. He was joined by Academy Award winner JK Simmons, and future Academy Award winner Brendan Fraser. It was directly linked to an upcoming entry in the DCEU in the form of The Flash.
Then, one day, suddenly it wasn’t. The $90 million budgeted HBO Max exclusive was unceremoniously shit-canned and consigned to the trashcan by a tax write-off, never to be completed, never to be seen.
The directors of Batgirl, Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah, were out promoting their new Syrian war drama Rebel when the subject came up, specifically in relation to Andy Muschietti’s The Flash. That was also a notorious bomb. Despite very positive early word of mouth, it made $268.5 million worldwide from a $200 million budget (officially, although rumors say nearly $300 million was the final figure) along with mixed reviews from critics.
Batgirl was to arrive on Max within weeks of The Flash, continuing the story of Keaton’s Bruce Wayne from the movie. In an interview with Insider, El Arbi says watching The Flash was an emotional experience for them:
“We watched it, and we were sad. We love director Andy Muschietti and his sister Barbara, who produced the movie. But when we watched it, we felt we could have been part of the whole thing.
We didn’t get the chance to show ‘Batgirl’ to the world and let the audience judge for themselves. Because the audience really is our ultimate boss and should be the deciders of if something is good or bad, or if something should be seen or not.
Our movie was very different than ‘The Flash’. That has a big fantasy component, ours was more grounded. More like Tim Burton’s Gotham City.”
Fallah said the film’s write-off was the biggest disappointment of their careers. However, like an abused spouse, they would still work for DC again:
“Our love for DC, Batman, Batgirl, Gotham City, it’s so big that, as fans, we could never say no to another project. If we got another chance to be part of it, we’d do it. We didn’t get our day in court. We still want to make our case.”
It is the considered view of many at the Outpost that James Gunn’s reborn DCU faces some tough headwinds, so we will see what happens.
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