Trans-Inclusive Batgirl Movie Has Been Canceled Despite Being Completed
Trans-Inclusive Batgirl Movie Has Been Canceled Despite Being Finished
The film was in the can and set to introduce the DCEU’s first trans character, but now it's dead. What happened?
Anticipation for the Batgirl movie has been building for months. The film, which stars Leslie Grace as Barabara Gordon aka Batgirl, also marked the return of Michael Keaton as Bruce Waine and J.K. Simmons as Commissioner Gordon. It was set to introduce Brendan Fraser as its villain, Firefly, but best of all the film was going to feature its first-ever trans character, Alysia Yeo played by trans actor Ivory Aquino.
With a lineup like that, what’s not to love?
When news broke Tuesday that the film, despite being essentially completed, had been shelved, it sent shock waves through the fandom and Hollywood. The film was presumably heading to HBO Max later this year and had made it as far as test screenings, but now it will never see the light of day. Why? The answer, it seems, is complicated.
Warner Bros.’ New Regime
Batgirl was initially greenlit in early 2021, since then Warner Bros. has gone through a regime change with a new CEO, David Zaslav, taking the reins and seemingly changing the studio’s strategy. Previously there had been a massive effort to boost the company’s streaming service with a strategy that included top-tier movies heading to HBO Max on the same day as their theatrical releases, but this was scrapped when Zaslav took over.
Batgirl, it seems, no longer fit into the new strategy, as it was not quite a high-budget enough to go theatrical alongside the DCEU’s other upcoming films, Shazam! Fury of the Gods, Black Adam, or even the now controversial Flash film, thanks to the many allegations of misconduct by its star Ezra Miller.
Taxes, Taxes, Taxes
If the film wasn’t the right fight for the theatrical release, why didn’t the studio just send it directly to HBO Max per its initial plan? The answer, it’s believed, is related to taxes. The budget for the film had already grown from $70 million to $100 million dollars due to pandemic-related delays and issues. According to Variety, it seems that Warner Bros. crunched the numbers and found that even though the film was essentially completed, the additional $30 to $50 million that would be required for its global rollout was just too high a price. Instead, the company is opting to simply shelve the film (along with a Scoob! sequel) and take the tax write-off.
“Irredeemable” Test Screenings
After the news broke, Warner Bros. released a statement saying that the decision to kill the Batgirl film was no reflection of its quality. “The decision to not release Batgirl reflects our leadership’s strategic shift as it relates to the DC universe and HBO Max. 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 [the also canceled] Scoob! Holiday Haunt and their respective casts and we hope to collaborate with everyone again shortly,” a spokesperson told The Hollywood Reporter.
However, leaked reactions to the Batgirl test screenings tell a different story. The New York Post reports that the film was shelved due to them going very poorly. “They think an unspeakable Batgirl is going to be irredeemable,” an inside source said.
Whatever Warner Bros.’ reasons for its shocking reversal on the Batgirl film, it’s a heartbreaker for fans who were eagerly anticipating its groundbreaking representation of an Afro-Latina Batgirl and her trans bestie.