Batgirl directors El Arbi and Bilall Fallah recently spoke to Yahoo Entertainment about the canceled Leslie Grace-starring DC film and their newest movie, Rebel. When asked if Batgirl would have been a hit had it ever been released, El Arbi said the low budget and “grounded” story could have helped it succeed before he went on to praise the movie’s cast.
“People do love the Bat family: they love Batgirl, they love Gotham City, they love Michael Keaton and Brendan Fraser gave an Oscar-worthy performance in the movie,” El Arbi said.
El Arbi also discussed how the movie was originally intended to be released exclusively to streaming rather than in theaters. “[Streaming] allows you freedoms that you don’t get in theaters,” he explained. “If it was a theatrical movie, we might have needed to have had bigger action sequences than we had. But we’ll never know! Hopefully we can come back to DC and show what we can really do. It’s like unfinished business — we’ve got to prove ourselves one day.”
What happened with DC’s Batgirl?
Joss Whedon was hired to direct, write, and produce a Batgirl movie for DC in 2017; however, Whedon left the project in 2018. Bad Boys for Life’s El Arbi and Fallah were hired to direct the film in 2021, with the cast being announced a few months later. Along with Grace and Fraser, Batgirl would have starred Michael Keaton as Bruce Wayne/Batman, J.K. Simmons as Commissioner Gordon, Jacob Scipio as Anthony Bressi, Ivory Aquino as Alysia Yeoh, and Ethan Kai in an undisclosed role.
In August 2022, Warner Bros. Discovery announced Batgirl was no longer being released to streaming or in theaters. While there’s since been much speculation as to why Warner Bros. Discovery pulled the plug on the nearly-finished movie, Variety reported the decision was most likely made to give the company a tax write-off.
“It was really a blend between [Christopher] Nolan and [Tim] Burton,” El Arbi told Yahoo Entertainment about the movie. “Gotham City was a more realistic world, and the story was very straightforward and emotional. It was more of an actor’s movie without a lot of visual effects. We don’t really like CGI, so we used a lot of miniatures. There was this one great action sequence where a truck crashed into a tunnel and we did it with miniatures like Burton did in Batman. It remains the coolest thing we’ve ever done in movies — it was old school filmmaking and we’ll do it again!”