Directors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah from Disney+’s ‘Ms. Marvel.’

Directors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah from Disney+’s ‘Ms. Marvel.’

There was shock and disbelief yesterday when reports began to emerge that Warner Bros. Discovery had decided to ditch the DC title ‘Batgirl’ – even though the movie had finished shooting and was in the middle of post-production.

That feeling of disbelief was shared by the directors of the movie, Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah. The duo, who had previously worked on the likes of ‘Bad Boys for Life’ and the Disney+ series ‘Ms. Marvel,’ have been quick to respond.

El Arbi and Fallah (who had been taking a quick break from editing the movie for El Arbi’s wedding in Morocco) were informed of the studio’s decision a short time before the news began to emerge into the world. And now they have hit Instagram to express their stunned feelings over the move.

“We are saddened and shocked by the news. We still can’t believe it,” the directing duo wrote in the post. “As directors, it is critical that our work be shown to audiences, and while the film was far from finished, we wish that fans all over the world would have had the opportunity to see and embrace the final film themselves. Maybe one day they will.”

They continue, “Our amazing cast and crew did a tremendous job and worked so hard to bring Batgirl to life. We are forever grateful to have been part of that team. It was a dream to work with such fantastic actors like Michael Keaton, J.K. Simmons, Brendan Fraser, Jacob Scipio, Corey Johnson, Rebecca Front and especially the great Leslie Grace, who portrayed Batgirl with so much passion, dedication and humanity.”

“In any case, as huge fans of Batman since we were little kids, it was a privilege and an honor to have been a part of the DCEU, even if it was for a brief moment,” the statement ends. “‘Batgirl’ For Life.”

Though there had been talk of problematic test screenings or issues with the movie’s quality, the studio’s own statement refutes that.

“The decision to not release 'Batgirl' reflects our leadership’s strategic shift as it relates to the DC universe and HBO Max,” it read. “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’ (the animated movie that was scrapped at the same time as the superhero adventure) and their respective casts and we hope to collaborate with everyone again in the near future.”

Batgirl herself, Leslie Grace, added her own statement, via Twitter.

“I feel blessed to have worked among absolute greats and forged relationships for a lifetime in the process!” she wrote. “To every Batgirl fan – THANK YOU for the love and belief, allowing me to take on the cape and become, as Babs said best, ‘my own damn hero!’” You can see her full stamen below…

Turns out the real reason for the change was something far more mundane – the incoming executive team is changing the direction of how Warner Bros. handles its DC titles (again) and ‘Batgirl’ fell through the cracks as a movie that wasn’t big enough to justify the budget to upgrade and market it for theatrical release, as it had been planned as a direct-to-HBO Max movie.

The corporate decision was made to write it off on taxes as a loss, as part of an accounting technique in the wake of the merger between Warner Bros. and Discovery that allows for such moves.

It’s only available for a limited time, so other movies including ‘Blue Beetle’ seem safe for now.

Yet to our thinking, this is just another sign that Warner Bros. still appears to have very little idea how to plan for and execute a coherent strategy for its DC movie universe.

Robert Pattinson as Batman

Robert Pattinson as Batman in Warner Bros. Pictures’ action adventure “The Batman,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Photo Credit: Jonathan Olley/™ & © DC Comics. Copyright: © 2021 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.

There are various strands, between the DCEU and the unconnected likes of ‘The Batman’, with different versions of characters floating around.

Merging Warner Bros. and DC has led to even more chaos, as a new executive team arrives and decides to change up the thinking once again. Plenty of other projects in development and existing shows are being cancelled as the corporate strategy shifts.

While at one point the studio was all about sharing content between theatrical and HBO Max (and, during the pandemic, releasing everything day-and-date), it now appears to be intent on keeping bigger theatrical titles in their lane and making fewer movies for the streaming service in order to cut costs.

We’re still not sure that this all sounds like a good idea, at least not until Warner/Discovery and DC has a workable policy for its movies and TV series. While not everyone has to look to Marvel, Disney’s approach to essentially letting Kevin Feige and his creative partners control every aspect of their output has paid dividends and (largely) delighted fans.

Warners is said to be on the hunt for someone who can offer similar guidance on the DC front, though picking from the comic book company’s ranks or the movie side hasn’t yet led to firm success.

DC has certainly had hits – ‘Aquaman’ made more than a billion dollars, while ‘Joker’ brought both big box office and Oscar-winning kudos.

Dwayne Johnson as Black Adam

Dwayne Johnson as Black Adam in New Line Cinema’s action adventure 'Black Adam,' a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Copyright: © 2022 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved. Courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures.

But all this chopping and changing has not been good for the movies’ reputation, and while DC has ‘Black Adam’, ‘Shazam! Fury of the Gods’ and ‘Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom’ on the way, they’ll all need to perform to stop the concern over output quality and the direction behind the films as a whole.

And while ‘The Flash’ – whose future remains in flux while star Ezra Miller continues to bring the wrong type of press – seems destined to still get the blockbuster treatment, it’s really not a great look to effectively flush a movie directed by and starring people of color down the corporate toilet to serve the needs of shareholders.

Plus, it’s hardly the best sign to creative people who might want to work with you in future and are now concerned that their hard work may end up on a shelf forever.

Leslie Grace as Batgirl

Leslie Grace in HBO Max's 'Batgirl.'

Batgirl

Batgirl

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Based upon the popular DC character of Batgirl. Read the Plot