Holy Wokery Batgirl! TOM LEONARD investigates why Warner Bros’ $90million superhero film was axed
Night has fallen on Gotham City. Criminals and idlers prepare to commit their devious acts. And now there may be no one to stop them.
Batgirl, a seemingly “wakeful,” big-budget film featuring a female version of the Caped Crusader, has been ignominiously scrapped – a shock to the movie world.
Condemned as ‘irreparable’ by studio executives at Warner Bros, it seems that even a long stint in the editing room couldn’t make it. Nor was it good enough to send ‘straight to video’, as it used to be said of movies that are bad for the cinema.
Despite being all set and reportedly costing $90 million (£75 million), Batgirl will never be released in any format – not even on one of the internet streaming services that often seem willing to broadcast old tat.
It may be the most expensive film ever made that will never see the light of day.
The film had reached test screenings and was set to hit theaters and on the US streaming service HBO Max by the end of this year.
However, the public feedback has been so appalling that — in an almost unprecedented move — Warner Bros. has decided that the reputational damage of releasing this turkey would be worse than losing the tens of millions of dollars it has already spent on it.
The Batgirl movie is ‘canned’ by Warner Bros. after spending over $90 million on the film as studio executives want to distance themselves from projects made for streaming
“It just didn’t work,” said an insider. The decision is also a blow to Glasgow, which had stood for Gotham City in the film.
Given the low standard of so much content on Netflix, Amazon Prime, and other streaming services, and the fact that superhero movies have a rabidly loyal audience, it’s all an overwhelming failure.
But why was it canceled so late in the day and after so much time, money and resources had been spent on it?
Some have argued that the film was scrapped for tax reasons; Warner Bros can now claim Batgirl as a tax write-off, allowing it to recoup some of its costs elsewhere. That doesn’t explain why the movie was considered so bad, though.
And here’s certainly strong evidence that Batgirl was just the latest in a long and disastrous series of Hollywood movies that prioritized politically correct values over entertainment. As Robin would say, Holy Woke, Batman!
Fans will remember that in the original comics, Batgirl is the nocturnal alter ego of Barbara Gordon, the daughter of Gotham City’s red-haired Police Commissioner Jim Gordon.
The star of the film was a little-known Afro-Latina singer-actress named Leslie Grace. This alone was a big risk, given that 27-year-old Grace’s only previous major acting role was in the box office flop In The Heights, a “musical drama” created by awake hero Lin-Manuel Miranda, the man behind the musical Hamilton. .
Hollywood icon Michael Keaton reprized his role as Batman, while Commissioner Gordon – Batgirl’s father – was played by actor JK Simmons, who starred in Spider-Man in 2002.
The film was directed by Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah, young Moroccan-Belgians best known for the TV series Ms Marvel, about a Muslim Pakistani-American teenage girl who is bullied at school until she develops superpowers.
Batgirl gets filmed in Glasgow after parts of Scottish city turned into ‘Gotham’
When Ms. Marvel was released in June, it faced a tsunami of abuse from comic book fans who complained about its unbearable wakefulness.
(The series was created by Disney, so progressive these days that it applies racism warnings to the crows in Dumbo and offers a children’s program – called ‘Baymax!’ – featuring a scene where a robot asks a transgender what kind of sanitary product he is. should buy for a 12 year old girl.)
The screenplay for Batgirl was by Christina Hodson, the British writer of the ultra-feminist film Birds Of Prey, who was accused by one critic of “hatred men – all men.” . . [and] dull to the point of numbing.”
Batgirl also had a transgender character, Alysia Yeoh, played by the trans actor Ivory Aquino.
According to critics, it seems that a film puts its “progressive” values above all other concerns.
And not for the first time. Superhero movies — normally somewhere audiences could go to escape the endless culture wars of our time — have increasingly become important repositories of wakery.
In 2021, Marvel’s mega-budget film Eternals – starring Angelina Jolie, Kit Harington and Richard Madden – was labeled boring and preachy by fans and critics alike. It included Marvel’s first gay superhero and the first deaf.
Lightyear, a spin-off of Pixar’s celebrated Toy Story film series, was expected to be one of this summer’s biggest films. Instead, it bombed.
Critics complained that it has replaced liberal virtue signaling — Buzz Lightyear’s commanding officer is a black lesbian and the film features the first gay kiss in a Pixar production — with the simple, unpoliticized delights of the original films.
In contrast, this summer also saw the release of Top Gun: Maverick, a stormy reboot of the wildly popular 1986 film Top Gun, an action movie about ruthless American fighter pilots. It was a sharp response to Hollywood bosses who insist that their increasingly direct acting is merely a response to changing public tastes and social mores.
The Batgirl movie is said to have played Latina actress Leslie Grace in the titular role as she battled Brendan Fraser’s Firefly, who turned a life of crime after he was fired from his job, lost his health insurance and could no longer care for his ailing wife.
Tom Cruise’s new film proudly treads much the same territory as the original Boy’s Own-style adventure, with virtually no women, no slowdown in the blatant machismo, and no scenes where pilots question their sexuality or their patriotic devotion to American firepower. .
In short, it’s almost joyfully off-message with the Hollywood of 2020.
Perhaps as a result, it’s been a monster hit with critics and at the box office – so far it’s the highest-grossing film of the year and, notably, given its long history of making blockbusters, even of Cruise’s career.
With one recent exception — 2017’s Wonder Woman, starring Gal Gadot — movies with female superheroes as the main attraction have generally been commercial and critical triumphs, regardless of their zealous support for girl power. Many were just gloomy.
The trend started way back in 1984, with Supergirl, a feminist remake of Superman starring Helen Slater and supporting actors like Peter O’Toole and Faye Dunaway.
This has led to an appalling 8 percent approval rating on the critics’ aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes.
The decision on the film — due to be released later this year — came after test screenings were panned by the public and studio execs believed it would hurt the future of the brand as they look to rename the DC Extended Universe.
Catwoman, who arrived in 2004, scores just 9 percent and is regularly on critics’ “worst movies ever” lists. The film starred former Bond girl Halle Berry as Batman’s anti-heroine love interest (with superhuman feline abilities and a black leather catsuit).
The following year, Jennifer Garner stepped into an equally revealing outfit to star as Elektra, a supernatural assassin tasked with protecting an innocent man and his daughter. Nice change from traditional gender roles there – except it was also a clunker, earning a whopping 11 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.
When does Hollywood get the message that the public should be offered what they want to see, instead of being spoon-fed a sour-tasting drug?
No time soon, it seems. Two major TV series loom on the horizon: House Of The Dragon (a prequel to Game Of Thrones) and The Lord Of The Rings: The Rings Of Power. Both have gone through the wake-up wringer.
Game Of Thrones became a huge hit a decade or so ago precisely because it was so politically incorrect – endless, graphic violence punctuated by lots of free nudity.
House Of The Dragon will reportedly feature gender fluidity, a non-binary actor and barely any sex.
As for Amazon’s £400 million Rings Of Power series (a prequel to The Lord Of The Rings), it has been accused of deviating greatly from JRR Tolkien’s vision of featuring black dwarfs and hobbits, female orcs and powerful female characters. which never appeared in his beloved books.
Will they be as excitingly popular as the original characters – or will they also sneak into the shadows like Batgirl?