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From its inception, the DC cinematic universe has had a rough time keeping up with its competition. After a series of disastrous financial decisions, the DCEU would need a miracle if it wanted to compete with the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Enter The Flash, a last-ditch effort to jump into the “multiverse” craze. The movie was supposed to be DC’s Avengers. Unfortunately, critics weren’t impressed by the film, and fans were less than pleased with Ezra Miller’s behavior during the affair.
On the other hand, Batgirl would be a streaming-only film for DC to tackle the digital market. However, for reasons that still evade most fans, Batgirl was canned just before its release.
What happened to the movie? Is there any chance it will ever see the light of day? And, more importantly, what was it about? Let’s answer these questions as we delve into one of the most controversial films in the DCEU’s history.
Batgirl Had No Place in the New DCU
According to DC Studios’ Co-chairman Peter Safran, the Batgirl movie would have hurt the DC brand. There’s some debate on what Safran meant by this, but it makes more sense when we consider the current state of DC and Warner Bros.
Warner Bros’ new CEO after the merger with Discovery is David Zaslav. One of the first measures he applied once he took office was to cancel some nearly completed projects. These films include Batgirl and Coyote vs. Acme, two films that were late into post-production.
According to Zaslav, the cost of releasing those films would have been too much for Warner Bros to bear. “When I look at the health of our company today, we needed to make those decisions,” Zaslav told Variety last year.
Batgirl Will Return to the DCU
Even though the movie was canceled, Batgirl herself was not. Safran has mentioned that “Batgirl’s a character that inevitably we will include in our story,” even as the DCU now enters its new phase helmed by James Gunn.
On the other hand, Safran also used the term “unreleasable” when discussing Batgirl. This, however, doesn’t reflect Leslie Grace’s portrayal of the character, he commented.
One thing to note is that the canceled film wasn’t set in Matt Reeves’ The Batman universe. That might be the key to understanding why the movie was canceled. With Batgirl, DC would have at least three separate continuities to juggle in the DCU.
If there’s one thing that’s worked for Marvel so far it’s how monolithic the MCU feels. Even with its What Ifs and alternate stories, there’s one major MCU that every movie fan follows. Even die-hard DC fans have noticed how disjointed their cinematic universe narrative appears.
James Gunn, the new head of the DCU, has the mission to consolidate the universe under one banner. Superhero flicks may be losing steam, but that doesn’t mean Gunn can release an inferior product to the competition.
The Batgirl film, as completed as it was, would be yet another odd end in the DCEU. calling it “unreleasable” doesn’t necessarily speak of its quality. It was a move that, in the long run, might boost sales for DC.
What Was the Canceled Batgirl Film About?
The canceled movie would have seen Leslie Grace’s Barbara Gordon teaming up with Michael Keaton’s Bruce Wayne to take down Firefly, a pyromaniac villain played by Brendan Fraser.
Twitter user and comics fan Neb disclosed most of the film’s plot last July. Thanks to this leak, we know that the movie would have taken place in the new continuity set up by The Flash‘s ending.
Batgirl‘s universe would have included references to both Suicide Squad and Tim Burton’s Batman.
Back at GCPD, Barbara breaks in to the GCPD evidence lockers using her photographic memory. She sees Harley Quinn's bat from Suicide Squad and the mallet from Birds of Prey.— Neb | 🏳️🌈 (@NebsGoodTakes) July 15, 2023
She grabs an old batarang and also finds Catwoman's cowl, which she uses to make her own cowl. pic.twitter.com/iSkoESeH0o
We also know that the film would have J.K. Simmons play the part of Jim Gordon, although he’d be older than he was in the Justice League movies.
Will The Movie Ever Be Released?
Officially, Batgirl will never get a proper release. Now that Peter Safran and James Gunn lead the DCU, releasing the film could damage the ongoing cinematic universe. As Zaslav called it, Batgirl is “unreleasable.”
We only know of some production pictures that have been leaked online. Things like the Firefly costume and Catwoman’s cowl have leaked online, but not much more. Since the film never formally entered post-production, chances are we’ll never see a workprint either.
Stranger things have happened before, though. In 2009, an unfinished copy of X-Men Origins: Wolverine leaked online. That could very well happen with Batgirl in the future, though, at this point, that’s unlikely.
With Coyote vs. Acme, the other canceled WB project sold to external distributors, there’s a slim chance the studio might release at least some parts of Batgirl in the future.
What happens to Leslie Grace’s character is still up to the studio, so it’s too early to tell whether or not WB will reuse the cast of Batgirl in a Gunn-helmed film. As it stands right now, Batgirl‘s sudden cancelationis one of the most bizarre cases out of the entire superhero film craze. Especially since The Flash was released.