OPINION: The Decision to Cancel ‘Batgirl’ Was a Bad One

The decision to cancel ‘Batgirl’ was a stupid one, made by a studio that seems to be unsure of what it wants.

To quote Zack Snyder, “You’re Living in a F**king Dreamworld” if you think there’s a single ounce of a plan for the DC Extended Universe anymore. At this point, it would be much better for your mental health to just look at every live-action DC project as its own standalone project and just let go of any attachment to a shared universe with the situations going on right now. What sparked this you ask? Well, if you’ve been living under a rock for the past 48 hours, Batgirl is no more, the film is dead and shelved indefinitely as Warner Brothers Discovery proves that even though it is a new company, the studio has retained the cluelessness of past leadership.

Batgirl was a film that went through development hell. It was originally set to be written and directed by the now disgraced fandom figure Joss Whedon. After Whedon was accused of butchering Justice League, Whedon ultimately stepped away from Batgirl. The film would go on to gain steam once again with writer Chirstina Hodson being brought on board in 2018, and directors Bilall Fallah and Adil El Arbi boarding the project in May 2021. Leading lady Leslie Grace would later sign on to the project in July 2021, with filming slated to begin later that year. After shifting release dates for other DC films, which would’ve helped to establish the new timeline, Batgirl never received a proper release date outside of 2023.

And now we know that the film is being shelved permanently. Initial reports claimed it was because the film didn’t fit what David Zaslav and the rest of Warner Bros. Discovery sought for the DC Extended Universe, while other reports claimed the decision was because the film wasn’t an “event film.” As we now know, it appears to have been a mix of it all, with the studio seeking to get a tax write-off for Batgirl.

The thing is, Batgirl was nearly done. Deadline confirmed the directors were well into post-production on the film and reports indicated the test screenings of the films were getting mixed-positive reviews. This did not stop Warner Bros. Discovery from canning it despite the film costing a reported $90 million because the studio didn’t think it fit its new image of what DC films should be. This is a ridiculous decision that reportedly had one rival studio executive “floored,” calling the situation one of the most “unprecedented” of their three-decade-long career. 

Not to feed into any rumors or conspiracies but it makes one think the new regime could be completely abandoning the previous one’s attempt at a soft reboot and possibly looking to ditch the concept of a new timeline spawning from the events of The Flash, with Ben Affleck most recently replacing Michael Keaton in Aquaman and The Lost Kingdom. The change the studio is after, however, is mostly attributed to the film’s new release date, now set to release before The Flash and including some important details for the future. 

The move to shelve the film, though, is just completely and utterly baffling, especially as Warner Bros. Discovery has deemed itself as a new regime that wants to save money and trim. By shelving Batgirl, the studio has willingly shelved a $90 million film for a meager $15-$25 million tax write-off. It’s a project that could’ve easily been released on HBO Max as originally intended. After all, Batgirl was a project that was reportedly near completion and at the tail end of post-production. The fact that the studio felt the film wasn’t built for theaters makes absolutely zero sense as plenty of films made for streaming have received theatrical runs. The most frustrating bit of it all is that with Batgirl being a tax write-down, it means the film can never be released through any monetizable method, or even sold to another studio, so unless the film miraculously makes its way onto the internet via a leak, it will never see the light of day.

Another downside to this decision? DC had its chance, once again, to capitalize on the potential success of a live-action Batfamily, this could’ve been the jumping-off point, the gateway to so many beloved characters from the comics. Fans have been dying to see the many children of Bruce Wayne come together on the big screen like Cassandra Cain, Stephanie Brown, Duke Thomas, Jason Todd, Tim Drake, Damian Wayne, Kate Kane, and Luke Fox, but of course, instead we receive crushed dreams and wasted potential.

On top of the absent Batfamily, Batgirl would’ve offered another chance for the Birds of Prey and allowed them to become whole as they welcome Barbara Gordon into their ranks. The Batgirl film was even reportedly going to set up the Black Canary solo project, one that could meet a similar fate to Wonder Twins and now Batgirl, as it may not meet the arbitrary standards Zaslav wants DC films to hold. The fact that a tax break factored into all of this makes it feel as if Warner Brothers has lost all of its artistic integrity, leaving the studio merely an IP-fueled cash cow that’ll push out slop for the masses. 

The decision to cancel Batgirl just makes no sense in the end.

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