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One year later, Batgirl directors look back on their “unfinished business”

The cancellation of Batgirl is the wound that just won’t heal. It’s been one year since DC Studios announced they were scrapping the movie after it had already finished filming, and creators and fans alike are still mourning what might have been. “It’s the biggest disappointment of our careers,” directors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah summed up in a new interview with Insider.

Before its release, Batgirl garnered hype for its intriguing mix of classic and rising stars. Leslie Grace (In the Heights) starred as the titular character, Brendan Fraser played the supervillain Firefly, and Michael Keaton reprised his role as Batman for the first time in 30 years. Most disappointing for queer fans, the film would have featured the DCEU’s first trans character, Batgirl’s best friend and confidant Alysia Yeoh (Ivy Aquino).

At the same time, because it was slated for a direct-to-streaming release on (formerly) HBO Max, the film received a lower-than-average budget. Following the Warner Bros and Discovery merger, executives scrapped Batgirl, citing a new content direction that prioritized theatrical releases and big-budget experiences.

But directors El Arbi and Fallah say it should have been up to fans to judge the quality of the experience. “We didn’t get the chance to show Batgirl to the world and let the audience judge for themselves,” El Arbi said. “Because the audience really is our ultimate boss and should be the deciders of if something is good or bad, or if something should be seen or not.”

Instead, DC Studios prioritized the release of The Flash, despite the mounting controversies surrounding its star Ezra Miller. Over the last year, Miller faced a slew of accusations and legal incidents, and as one likely consequence, The Flash debuted as one of the biggest box office flops in movie history. All the same, that film ultimately got the honor of featuring Keaton’s Batman reprisal.

“We watched [The Flash] and we were sad,” recalled El Arbi. “We love director Andy Muschietti and his sister Barbara, who produced the movie. But when we watched it, we felt we could have been part of the whole thing.”

“Our movie was very different than The Flash,” he added. “That has a big fantasy component, ours was more grounded. More like Tim Burton’s Gotham City.”

Although Batgirl will likely never see the light of day, the directors are hoping for the chance to work on another DC project. “There’s still a feeling of unfinished business,” said Billal.

“Our love for DC, Batman, Batgirl, Gotham City, it’s so big that, as fans, we could never say no to another project,” El Arbi added. “If we got another chance to be part of it, we’d do it. We didn’t get our day in court. We still want to make our case.”

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