Have you ever poured your soul into something? Maybe it was a project for history class. Maybe it was a leading role in your school play. Or maybe it was just a silly doodle you drew while pretending to listen to your friend complain about her boyfriend. Regardless of what the product was, everyone is familiar with the feeling of pouring your heart into something. Now imagine that something gets completely scrapped. Its destiny is to never see the light of day. That’s what seems to be the situation with Warner Bros.’ cancellation of the upcoming ‘Batgirl’ movie.
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‘Batgirl’ was directed by Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah. The duo previously directed 2018’s ‘Gangsta’ and, more recently, episodes for the MCU’s ‘Ms. Marvel,’ so they’re no strangers to the superhero genre. Leslie Grace, who made her film debut with ‘In the Heights,’ where her performance as Nina Rosario garnered her positive attention, took on the titular character. Michael Keaton was set to reprise his take on Bruce Wayne/Batman, and JK Simmons was set to return as Commissioner Gordon, while Brendan Fraser took on the role of the villain, Firefly. Those are some pretty noteworthy names involved. There’s an expectation set from the source material and the casting that makes this film feel like one worth watching. But, I suppose, we never will get that chance. The story of the DC project being canceled before it was released has been circling everywhere since the shocking news was announced. It’s not every day an anticipated film gets pulled from existence. But why is this specific cancellation so wrong?
Lights, Camera…Whoops! Nevermind
There are many reasons why the tragedy of ‘Batgirl’ is so striking. For starters, the film was already shot – and that’s a decent amount of work. Not only was shooting completed, but the project was residing in the stage of post-production – another decent amount of work. There are so many people behind-the-scenes earning their living and fulfilling their dreams through cinema. From writers, to technicians, to stunt coordinators, all the way to caterers. And now, all that hard work is for nothing. Remember when I asked if you’ve ever poured your soul into anything? Well, it’s not hard to assume that nearly every single person working on this project did just that. And after all that heart-pouring, it got canceled. It’s like getting home after school and running to your parents to tell them you created something special that day, only to not have the product you created to show them. I can’t sympathize enough with Leslie Grace, as this role would have truly been her breakout onto mainstream media. She received the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to portray a superhero, but no one will see her version of the character. “Feeling awful” probably doesn’t even begin to describe her emotions, and I can only hope the actress/singer receives more roles to demonstrate her talent.
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Movies are hard to make. We know this. Movies are so hard to make, that not many even make it through the development phases. There are so many negotiations and studio intricacies that halt films from ever moving into production. So, when a project does get to production, and even gets to post-production, that’s an extra dose of heartbreak when it falls through.
The Curse of a Bad Movie
The main reason given for the film being canceled is that it just wasn’t good enough. But what does that mean exactly? Lots of factors play into making a bad movie a “bad movie.” If it isn’t good enough in the final stages, was it promising earlier on and something got warped along the way? Or were the signs of it being bad ignored early on, causing a headache when it was finally in the later stages of the process? So many questions running around that I wish we had more answers for. One thing I do know is: bad movies exist. I wish I could say it’s not the end of the world to release a bad movie, but critics can be brutal and audiences can be unforgiving, so bad movies can have a lasting impact on the careers of those involved. It’s unfortunate, but it’s true. You can’t blame a studio for wanting to escape the curse of a bad movie, though you can blame them for the methods they take to escape that curse.
I’m going to be completely honest, I didn’t actually know of this film until it was canceled. It was flying under the radar until all the gossip was raiding the film world with the cancellation of ‘Batgirl.’ So the question is (yes, I’m asking yet another question), would it have been better to have the bad publicity the film was seemingly predicted to have given its “not good enough” status, than to have the intense publicity it does now as a canceled project? Would the supposed inadequacy of it be worse than all this ruckus surrounding its cancellation? Different people may have different answers. Personally, I would’ve preferred to have just watched a bad movie. I’m no studio executive, but at least there’s a basis for the film to be judged on because audiences can actually go see the film and judge for themselves. Now we’re just in this weird wishy-washy area wondering what this film could’ve been like. I’ll repeat myself and say that you can’t blame Warner Bros. for wanting to avoid releasing something bad, or something they’re not proud of, but that decision has immense repercussions for all those involved. It means the rest of us will be throwing our questions out into the void, saddened by the fact that we won’t get answers.
Will ‘Batgirl’ be Forgotten?
All the hype surrounding the cancellation has brought ‘Batgirl’ to widespread attention, for better or worse. With that attention, there is a power that the scrapped film has garnered, and a possibility for fans and workers to bring it back. On the flipside, with the way Hollywood works, the situation could boil over in a few months, and no one could give the hassle a second look. Movies come and go, and some leave the public eye faster than others.
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All in all, I think the situation with ‘Batgirl’ gives an uneasy feeling that no art is safe. There’s always a possibility of being left behind, or canceled. That’s not a very happy thought, but it’s a truthful one. Hopefully, the hard work done for this film won’t be forgotten, no matter what, and we will still be able to give credit where credit is due for everyone who poured their soul into it.
By Rachel Beltowski
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Rachel Beltowski is a screenwriter and film critic, with a passion for character-driven stories and thought-provoking themes. From adventure to horror, Rachel enjoys stories which take the audience on an emotional rollercoaster and allow for personal expression that would otherwise go silent. Rachel was drawn to The Hollywood Insider’s dedication to individual perspectives and positive world impacts. The Hollywood Insider has provided a foundation for Rachel to share her insights and leap into the center of the entertainment industry. Rachel hopes to bring a fresh voice into the world of film and television, and share her love of stories with others.