Maybe she’s a little biased but Batgirl star Leslie Grace says that the film she saw was “incredible.” The $90 million DC Comics movie was axed last year when negative feedback from test screenings and the millions more that it would take to complete it proved too much for its studio, Warner Bros.
Directed by Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah, who also directed Bad Boys For Life, the third installment in the Bad Boys franchise, the film’s demise was hastened by the merger of WarnerMedia and Discovery, Inc., who chose to take the tax break instead of finishing the movie.
“The decision to not release ‘Batgirl’ reflects our leadership’s strategic shift as it relates to the DC universe and HBO Max,” the studio told CNN last August.
But Grace, who is Afro-Latina, says that the movie, costarring Brendan Fraser as the villain Firefly and Michael Keaton returning as Batman was more than salvageable.
“I got to see the film as far as it got to; the film wasn’t complete by the time that it was tested,” Grace told Variety this week. “There were a bunch of scenes that weren’t even in there. They were at the beginning of the editing process, and they were cut off because of everything going on at the company. But the film that I got to see — the scenes that were there — was incredible. There was definitely potential for a good film, in my opinion. Maybe we’ll get to see clips of it later on.”
After the merger and the decision not to move forward with Batgirl, James Gunn and Peter Safran were named as co-CEOs of DC Studios. They made other unpopular moves with DC franchise movies, leaving the third Wonder Woman without a clear path for release and eliminating the Henry Cavill version of the Superman franchise.
“One of the things Peter & I were aware of when we took the job as heads of DC Studios was a certain minority of people online that could be, well, uproarious & unkind, to say the least,” Gunn posed to his Twitter account last year. “No one loves to be harassed or called names – but, to be frank, we’ve been through significantly worse. Disrespectful outcry will never, ever affect our actions.”
Online chatter speculated that Grace being the first Black Batgirl may have hurt the film’s chances to succeed. For his part, Fraser says it’s a shame the film didn’t make it to completion.
“What I find most lamentable is that now a whole generation of little girls are going to have to wait longer to see a Batgirl and say, ‘Hey, she looks like me,’” Fraser told Variety. “That makes me sad. I know how good she was. And I know what this would mean to so many people.”
Arbi and Fallah have moved on to the fourth Bad Boys film, announced by Will Smith and Martin Lawrence in a social media post last month.
They will be back in the directing chairs after their success with the third installment which made $426 million. At the time the cancellation of Batgirl was made public the Morrocan/Belgian filmmakers shared their disappointment in a since-deleted Instagram post.
“We still can’t believe it,” they said in a joint statement last year. “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, insha’Allah.”
Here’s how Twitter reacted when news of the cancellation was released:
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