A bombshell dropped on the superhero movie world last night with the announced cancelation of Batgirl, the first solo outing based on Barbara Gordon…albeit loosely. Leslie Grace, a woman of Dominican decent, was set to play the redheaded caucasian Batgirl, which given the images I’ve seen of her isn’t nearly as bad as the Latina Supergirl they wanted to drop on us. Grace was just light enough to pull it off in the same way that the half-Japanese Dean Cain once pulled off Superman in Lois & Clark. This also further weakens Michael Keaton’s odds of returning in what’s been called a Batman Beyond style mentor role to new heroes. There was also talk on one of my sources that this new Batgirl and Latina Supergirl would replace their male counterparts in the DC Extended Universe version of the DC “Trinity”, keeping Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman.
Now that’s all gone, leaving questions as to the future of the DCEU. Already suffering from a few contentious issues from traditional DC universe fans and even a bunch of legal snafus it may be the change in leadership between WarnerMedia and Warner Brothers Discovery that led to the movie’s downfall…and yet the movie is practically ready to release. What could this mean going forward? At this point it’s all speculation but what the heck, that’s fun.
Why cancel a movie that reach test screening levels this far out? Well, the New York Post claims those screenings didn’t go very well.
The reportedly $70 million movie (the source said the budget was actually more than $100 million), which was doing test screenings for audiences in anticipation of a late 2022 debut, would rank among the most expensive cinematic castoffs ever.
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. It’s a DC disaster.
“They think an unspeakable ‘Batgirl’ is going to be irredeemable,” the source said.
The Post has reached out to Warner Bros. for comment.
Considering how the DC movies have done under the previous regime you get an idea that the new leaders of Warner Brothers and their other acquisitions may not want another mediocre movie on DC’s listings.
- Man Of Steel did well enough but only Snyder’s fan base gives it any praise, and even some of them jumped ship on Batman V. Superman: Dawn Of Justice. The latter was criticized as a movie as much as it was an adaptation. And none of the recent DCU movies have been great at being adaptations. Except for Shazam! but that was based on Geoff Johns’ destruction of Billy Batson’s story.
- Justice League had a bunch of problems. WarnerMedia wanted to course correct and went about it the long way. Using Josh Whedon to punch up the movie with reshoots while Snyder was mourning the loss of his daughter (not cool, Warner) led to a confused tone as they tried to balance Snyder’s tone and Whedon’s. Things did not go according to plan.
- So in order to push HBO Max–which WarnerMedia was begging to get up to the levels of Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+–they bowed to the “Snyder Bros” that Warner Brothers had been going out of their way to trash and released the infamous “Snyder Cut”. Snyder took the opportunity to add a bunch of things and while the now miniseries had a consistent tone the DC fans still weren’t happy. I haven’t seen it so I can’t comment much on it but that was a lot of money to thrown at a director’s cut just to push their new streaming service, and I’m not sure it worked out the way they had hoped.
- Meanwhile, while the first Wonder Woman was praised as the first decent DCEU movie (I thought it was okay but with a few missteps as mentioned in my review) the sequel, Wonder Woman 1984 was panned. While the colors were actually bright (rare for DCEU) they turned Maxwell Lord into an obvious Trump knockoff, I’ve seen questions of Minerva’s motivations as Cheetah, and that whole thing with Steve Trevor’s ghost inhabiting another man’s body and Diana willingly sleeping with him in a very creepy move for our heroine hurt it in the long run.
- Suicide Squad and Harley Quinn & The Birds Of Prey. I think last night’s article was long enough without going into these disasters, especially how they ruined Cassandra Cain for Margot Robbie’s take on Harley.
- Admittedly Joker and The Batman did well for Warner Brothers, but at what cost? Todd Phillips by admission wanted to do a non-superhero movie with a classic and iconic supervillain. Reeves gave us a poor Batman who pounds the stuffings out of bad guys and a Riddler that fell into the “serial killer out to expose things” villain instead of the lover of mental challenges via puzzles. Both had a tone that is way to dark. I’ll get into that more tomorrow. (I’m doing more teasers than usual this week.)
- Then you have the legal issues of the performers. Ezra Miller’s decent into madness has been well documented at this point, and this cancelation further puts the future of his Flashpoint inspired Flash movie into jeopardy. Meanwhile Amber Heard’s case with Johnny Depp has done her no favors either. I’ll stay out of both of those dramas but with both coming so close to releases of The Flash and the sequel to Aquaman it really puts WB in a bad light.
David Zaslav, the CEO of the current Warner Brothers incarnation, is looking to flush out the old regime. Walter Hamada, who has made some odd choices, is the only one left, and rumors question that future. CNN’s attempt at a news streaming service is dead while TBS and TNT will stopping their current crop of scripted shows and reports say Nexstar may take over the majority of The CW, the network co-owned with Paramount after the merging of The WB and UPN. Apparently Zaslav has his own ideas of how to utilize the DC characters in movies and TV going forth.
But again I caution against celebration. Outside of Dan DiDio leaving, not much has changed at DC Comics. Pandering tokenizing and Clark-ending Superjunior still exist because the DiDio acolytes, especially ones on the far left, continue to alter the face of the DC Universe and I’m not sure Zaslav and his people care about comic books any more than anyone else in their industry. We don’t know what tone he’s looking for, or exactly why Batgirl was canceled, at least as of this writing. I’m not ready to believe this is a positive change until I see it happen. I’ve been burned too many times.
It could be that the movie, as some reports suggest, would be going too far out of Barbara’s origin and character. (Grace was given the “Burnside” outfit, made to supposedly make it easier for cosplayers despite cosplayers loving the challenge of bringing a costume to life from the comics or animation.) After all Barbara has been in nearly every animated appearance since The New Adventures Of Batman, three different live-action incarnations–admittedly one of them was Batman & Robin–and I think every video game since Batman: Vengeance either as Batgirl or as Oracle. People know this character, but again it’s not clear if adaptation was one of the factors involved with killing the film just as it was about ready to come out of the chute.
Will we ever see this movie? It won’t be hitting theaters or HBO Max, as Warner Brothers Discovery wants to bury this like an old Atari cartridge or like modern Disney’s done with Song Of The South. Never say never though. We’ve seen leaked bootlegs of Roger Corman’s Fantastic Four, David E. Kelley’s Wonder Woman, the live-action Justice League TV pilot, and even a pilot based on Power Pack. If there’s enough left of it, the bootleggers may sneak it out of the vault, especially if directors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah are so into their product that they sneak it out and leak it themselves. Officially however it appears to be headed for lockdown and given the recent DC fare in movies, TV, and HBO (not to mention the state of the comics universe) I’m not sure we aren’t better off for it as DC fans. I do feel sorry for people who put all that work into it but I stopped expecting a proper adaptation years ago.
UPDATE: Just Some Guy has a great take on the current DCEU failings.