More Details On Surprise ‘Batgirl’ Decision, WB Still Unsure What To Do About ‘The Flash’

While I was sitting in a movie screening last night, Warner Bros. decided it was a good time to shake up the world of Hollywood. Initial reports were that WB had scrapped an “irredeemable” Batgirl movie, refusing to release it either in theaters or on HBO Max streaming as they had so many others. Those early stories were indeed a bit hyperbolic, and more details have emerged that paint a picture of a decision that is more clinical than creative.

Multiple sources including THR have chimed in and confirmed the axing of the $90M Batgirl film. That budget, you’ll note, is higher than the $75M it was intended to be, having ballooned largely due to delays caused by COVID-19. But the increase is a key factor in the decision, especially in the new Warner Bros. Discovery era under CEO David Zaslav, which has already seen the axing of a Wonder Twins movie, and the move of Blue Beetle from streaming exclusive to theatrical. The old regime wanted Batgirl as an HBO Max release only, and the budget was catered to fit such a strategy. But the added costs, plus the additional funding needed for promotional purposes, made that impossible. And yet, it was also too expensive to definitely recoup expenses through a theatrical release, so the film found itself in an ugly no-win situation.

Reports are that Batgirl isn’t the only movie that’s been scrapped. A sequel to the animated Scooby Doo film, Scoob, was also killed off. Released overseas in July 2020 and in the U.S. in May 2021, Scoob was one of the first major films to brave a theatrical release during the pandemic but ultimately found its greatest success in digital sales.

This whole Batgirl situation is such a terrible look for WB and the DCEU, though. For one thing, the film was set to star In the Heights actress Leslie Grace as Barbara Gordon, offering up a bit of Latinx cultural diversity to the Bat-verse. JK Simmons was set to return to the role of Commissioner Jim Gordon for the first time since Justice League, while Brendan Fraser was to play the villain Firefly and Michael Keaton was expected to suit up as Batman. All of that is gone now, and it re-establishes the sense that the DCEU is a mess and not to be relied on for any consistency whatsoever. It seemed that they were making progress, but this throws all of that into question.

That said, the move was made in order to streamline the DCEU with a focus on the theatrical experience. If Zaslav has his way, there will be a new Superman movie announced soon, probably some decision made on The Flash and future Batman movies. According to Variey’s sources, WB is “still contending” with what to do about Flash in the wake of multiple abuse and misconduct allegations against star Ezra Miller. What happens if that movie gets dropped, as well? There’s virtually no chance it goes to HBO Max exclusively. If Keaton loses his role in Batgirl and in The Flash, plus with recent reports that Ben Affleck is playing Batman in Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, what the heck is Keaton around for?

 

Travis Hopson has been reviewing movies before he even knew there was such a thing. Having grown up on a combination of bad '80s movies, pro wrestling, comic books, and hip-hop, Travis is uniquely positioned to geek out on just about everything under the sun. A vampire who walks during the day and refuses to sleep, Travis is the co-creator and lead writer for Punch Drunk Critics. He is also a contributor to Good Morning Washington, WBAL Morning News, and WETA Around Town. In the five minutes a day he's not working, Travis is also a voice actor, podcaster, and Twitch gamer. Travis is a voting member of the Critics Choice Association (CCA), Washington DC Area Film Critics Association (WAFCA), and Late Night programmer for the Lakefront Film Festival.