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The Batgirl movie may never be released, even though it’s already done

There’s a new boss in Gotham (and Warner Bros.)

Batgirl movie concept art. She is on a ledge, overlooking high rises. Image: Warner Bros. Pictures
Joshua Rivera (he/him) is an entertainment and culture journalist specializing in film, TV, and video game criticism, the latest stop in a decade-plus career as a critic.

Things are getting a little weird in Gotham City. Batgirl, the forthcoming DC Comics film directed by the Bad Boys for Life duo Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah, is reportedly no longer coming to HBO Max and will not be released in any form.

According to reports from The New York Post and The Wrap, Batgirl was effectively done. Filming wrapped in March, and the project had been in test screenings with audiences. This, the reports indicate, is where the film was doomed, testing poorly during a time where new Warner Bros. leadership is looking to rebuild DC’s theatrical brand.

It’s not particularly common for a completed franchise film to be completely shelved like this, and it’s especially odd now with streaming platforms hungry for content. However, new Warner Bros. CEO David Zaslav has major plans to overhaul the entire company’s film output, and regime changes often mean many once-sure bets get discarded in sometimes surprising ways.

Batgirl has had a long and tortured development history. First announced in 2017, the film initially had Avengers director Joss Whedon attached to direct before exiting in 2018. The final film had assembled a strong cast, with In the Heights breakout star Leslie Grace in the lead role, Brendan Fraser set to play the villain Firefly, and Michael Keaton returning in some way as Bruce Wayne/Batman.

Polygon reached out to Warner Bros. but did not receive comment by publication time.

Update (Aug. 3): Batgirl directors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah have released a statement on the movie’s cancelation. In the statement the directors say that the movie is “far from finished,” and hope that one day people will get to see it. They also specifically thank Leslie Grace, “who portrayed Batgirl with so much passion, dedication, and humanity.”

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