Warner Bros’ latest DC superhero film, Batgirl, has been canned and the news has caused a wave of backlash online.
£74 million had already been spent on the film, which was going to see Michael Keaton reprise his role as Batman and Brendan Fraser return to the big screen after a several-year hiatus. JK Simmons was also going to star, alongside American singer-songwriter Leslie Grace who would play Batgirl, only the third Latina to be cast in a leading role in a DC superhero project.
But due to rising production costs and reported unsuccessful early test screenings, the film, which was being made for HBO Max, has been completely cancelled.
Although the official Warner Bros statement said: “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, ”a source told the New York Post, that the studio,“ Think an unspeakable Batgirl is going to be irredeemable ”.
Batgirl was being shot in Glasgow and cast members were seen filming in the Scottish city earlier this year. Screenrant said that “the film is all but complete” making the decision to abandon the production all the more unfathomable.
The decision is likely to be in part due to a change of guard at the top of the company: David Zaslav, the CEO of the newly merged Discovery and WarnerMedia, is reported to be “looking for savings” and even recently closed CNN’s £240 million streaming service.
Of course, the internet could be relied upon to dissect the matter further, offering jokes, memes and heartfelt objections to the move. Was it really due to the money, Twitter users asked? What about Brendan Fraser’s big revival? And what about there being one fewer female lead now in the already male-heavy DC Universe?
Here are some of the best comments swirling around online.
For most, the decision to cancel Batgirl has been simply met with disbelief.
“This is the greatest marketing campaign ever, I’m desperate to see this now,” Tweeted one fan.
“If any disgruntled WB employee *wink wink* has the .mp4 for the Batgirl movie *wink wink* do us all in favor and “accidentally” post it *wink wink,*” joked another.
“Batgirl is going to just become an incredibly rare piece of lost media that will show up with incomplete VFX on YouTube or Vimeo in like 5 years,” added a third.
“Leaked footage of WB executives discussing what to do about Batgirl,” said a fourth, alongside a hilarious Seinfeld clip.
Others were most upset with the news because it will mean that Brendan Fraser does not get to play the sociopathic pyromaniac Firefly. The role was going to catapult the actor back into the mainstream-since 2014 he has starred in just three films, with Batgirl set to be his fourth of him.
However, Fraser also has the lead role in Darren Aronofsky’s forthcoming film The Whale, alongside Stranger Things star Sadie Sink. So although it’s not quite the same as a DC super-baddie, at least fans will get to see the American-Canadian on screen soon.
“Bro we really lost Brendan Fraser as a Batman villain?? This truly feels unreal,” Tweeted one fan.
“NOO THE BRENDAN FRASER RENAISSANCE TOOK A HIT I REPEAT, THE BRENDAN FRASER RENAISSANCE TOOK A HIT,” said another.
“Bro I was actually excited for batgirl to come out, if only for my main man brendan fraser to make his triumphant return as the main man firefly, and then to also have the GOAT killer moth appear, with some excellent batgirl content too. and now it’s all gone,” Tweeted a dramatic third fan.
Women in DC
Then of course there were those who were infuriated about the fact that there remain so few women lead roles in the DC Universe. Wonder Woman, Catwoman and Harley Quinn are DC’s biggest female stars, and although there are other powerful female characters, such as Aquaman’s Mera, they do not have titular roles.
“Wonder Woman and BOP are two of the greatest DC films and they’re both led by women. Batgirl should’ve continued that tradition smh,” Tweeted one fan.
“WB/DC canceled Batgirl – the movie with a female Hispanic lead, a trans supporting character, and two minority directors – but no word on whether the Flash movie with the EXTREMELY problematic lead is going ahead. What a dumpster fire,” said another.
Although Morbius is from Sony’s Spider-Man Universe, not the DC Universe, this didn’t stop people online from comparing the two. Morbius, which stars Jared Leto as a doctor who adds vampire bat DNA to his own, was re-released after its first run flopped, and did n’t do much better on its second round either. Fans online said it seemed unfair that while Morbius got two shots at making some money, Batgirl didn’t even get one.
“We are living in a society where Morbius was in theaters not once, but TWICE, and Batgirl can’t even get an HBO Max debut,” Tweeted one fan.
“I just refuse to believe a movie with JK Simmons, Michael Keaton, Leslie Grace and Brendan Fraser is somehow worse than Morbius,” Tweeted another.
“Imagine releasing Morbius but drawing the line at Batgirl,” said another.
Then of course there were questions about whether the decision was actually a money-saver. After all, £74 million seems a lot of cash to have already dropped for the project.
“But just think of how much we could make by *not* releasing BATGIRL,” joked one fan posting a picture of Gene Wilder staring off into the distance with a greedy-looking man hanging over his shoulder.
“Regardless how you feel about Batgirl or Scoob, they were nearly complete. And to scrap them all together to “save money” is probably one of the dumbest cop-outs we kept hearing as of late. Both projects served better,” argued another fan.