DC boss says it was ‘bold and courageous’ to axe Batgirl, and the misogyny is very, very real

Batgirl

As DC Studios unveiled a new slate of projects, CEO Peter Safran reflected on the controversial Batgirl cancellation – and came up with the worst excuse for its demise.

Originally destined for HBO Max, the film was set to blaze a trail with Afro-Latina actor Leslie Grace in the lead role as Barbara Gordon/Batgirl, and Ivory Aquino as Batgirl’s best friend Alysia Yeoh, who would have been the first trans actor in a DC Comics live-action film.

Despite being a film of firsts, last year, Warner Bros and DC shocked superhero fans everywhere by pulling the plug on the production after its first test screening.

In an unprecedented move, they refused to bring the $90 million film to HBO Max as previously confirmed, citing a “strategic shift” in leadership.

However, the New York Post later revealed that test audiences had labelled the movie “irredeemable”.

Six months after Batgirl was cancelled, and it seems DC bosses have stopped playing coy about their feelings towards the fated film. At a slate unveiling for the comic book studio on 30 January, DC Studios co-head executive Peter Safran doubled down on the decision to shelve Batgirl.

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“I saw the movie, and there are a lot of incredibly talented people in front of and behind the camera on that film,” Safran said at a Warner Bros press event. “But that film was not releasable, and it happens sometimes. That film was not releasable.

“I actually think that [president and CEO of Warner Bros. Discovery David] Zaslav and the team made a very bold and courageous decision to cancel it because it would have hurt DC. It would have hurt those people involved.”

Batgirl
Unfairly cancelled: Leslie Grace as Batgirl. (DC Studios)

“As I said, a lot of talented people were involved, but the film just was not releasable,” Safran added. “It would not have been able to compete in the theatrical marketplace; it was built for the small screen. So, again, I think it was not an easy decision, but they made the right decision by shelving it.”

This contradicts the testimony of co-star Brendan Fraser, who told Variety: “Everything that we shot was real and exciting and just the antithesis of doing a straightforward digital all-green screen thing,” after expressing his disappointment at the cancellation.

In particular, the excuse that releasing the film would have “hurt” people involved does not track with the hopeful pleas of Grace and Aquino that the film could still go ahead.

In August last year Aquino took to Twitter with an emotional plea: “As one of many who poured our hearts into the making of this movie, I ask that this measure be reconsidered.

“As much as I’ve tried my best to be strong these past few weeks, I’d find myself crying, for lack of a better term, from grief, and tonight was one of those nights.”

Ivory Aquino was set to star in the doomed Batgirl. (Getty)
Ivory Aquino was set to star in the doomed Batgirl. (Getty)

Batgirl directors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah added: “We wish that fans all over the world would have had the opportunity to see and embrace the final film themselves.”

The fact that the DC bosses are committed to the bizarre excuse that it was not fit for public consumption is particularly galling after they have continued to support Ezra Miller in The Flash.

Despite a string of criminal offences committed by Miller, who has taken a step back from the spotlight to recover, DC co-head James Gunn dubbed The Flash “the greatest superhero film” at the Warner Bros press event for upcoming DC films.

It’s not the first time fans have pointed out the double standards for The Flash and Batgirl, with fans outraged that one could go ahead and not the other.

Per Deadline, the salt in the wound would appear to be that Batgirl was axed because its storyline potentially impacted plans for The Flash.