David Zaslav, the new President and CEO of Warner Bros. Discovery, blamed the shelving of Batgirl on wanting to protect the DC brand. And yet, The Flash movie is still on the studio’s slate as they seek to determine what to do with the film following the countless allegations and arrests surrounding its star Ezra Miller. For a studio intent on protecting its brand, the decision to react slowly to Miller’s actions is a poor one.
None of us know if Batgirl was good and now with the film being shelved in favor of a tax write-down, it’s likely we’ll never know, which is bizarre. After all, this is the same studio that released Suicide Squad and Wonder Woman 1984, films that while still successful was far from critical darlings. Batgirl was developed as an HBO Max film, with rumors later circulating that, like with Blue Beetle, the Leslie Grace film would actually get a chance to grace the big screen in a theatrical release. It had two promising directors at the helm – a duo that directed some of the best episodes of Ms. Marvel for Marvel Studios – and a rising young star in the titular role.
Let’s not forget, that it also managed to secure the incredibly talented Michael Keaton, who was set to return as Batman, and Brendan Fraser as the film’s villain. Even if it wasn’t an “event film” as the studio had hoped, there was plenty to be excited about with Batgirl. Instead of releasing it, the studio decided not to put any more money into it and try to recoup its cost with a write-down. So, why then has The Flash continued to move along with no problem?
Ezra Miller, who was once a promising actor in Hollywood, has quickly seen his star dim in recent years due to their actions. It all began with a video surfacing of Miller allegedly choking a fan in a video in April 2020. Somehow, despite the video circulating all over social media, nothing seemed to become of it, and it was quickly swept under the rug. Flash forward – pun intended – to March 2022 and Miller was arrested in Hawaii for disorderly conduct and harassment at a karaoke bar. A couple of weeks later, Miller was then arrested again for assault after he was said to have thrown a chair, resulting in the injury of a 26-year-old woman.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, in June the actor was accused of grooming a child and a protective order was put in place against him. The problem? Miller was said to be on the run with the teen. Later reports would suggest a mother and her three children had moved into the actor’s Vermont farm in a “roommate situation” that was concerning because there were said to be unattended guns and drugs on the property. Then the actor was charged with “offense of felony burglary into an unoccupied dwelling” in Stamford, Vermont earlier this week. And that’s just a simple summary of everything.
To say your studio wants to protect its brand all while bringing an actor with so many allegations back for reshoots? I mean, that seems quite ludicrous. The fact that the future of The Flash still remains in question is just downright absurd. If it’s okay to pull the plug on Batgirl, a $90 million film, ya know, one where the leading lady wasn’t at the center of a troublesome media storm? Then surely the same can be done with The Flash.
Canceling Batgirl was cruel to those who worked on the project. There was a sense of pride and passion in Batgirl that was evident by all involved. There’s no reason Batgirl couldn’t have at least been put on HBO Max and given a chance to be seen. Grace and directors Bilall Fallah and Adil El Arbi deserved to have their work seen. And while The Flash director Andy Muschietti is talented, and his cast impressive, they ultimately have to carry the weight of Miller’s troubles into the promotion of the film and that’s not fair to them. Purely removing Miller from marketing the project isn’t enough because the cast and crew will still be asked to answer for their actions.
Sure, The Flash has a hefty budget and could play a huge part in the DC cinematic universe moving forward, but at what point is the line drawn? You can’t claim you want to protect the brand and then release a film starring someone with such a worrisome list of allegations against them. Actions speak louder than words.