Warner Bros. has canceled Batgirl, sparking fears The Batman 2 could be next on the hit list. That won’t happen, and this is why.
Batgirl was first announced back in 2017, with Joss Whedon tapped to write and direct. In the fallout of his Justice League cut, he left the project, paving the way for Bad Boys for Life’s Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah to come aboard.
Leslie Grace, who starred in 2021’s In the Heights, was cast in the titular role. Michael Keaton was also set to return as Batman, alongside JK Simmons as Commissioner Gordon and Brendan Fraser’s villainous pyromaniac Firefly.
It has since been axed by Warner Bros., with no plans to release the film theatrically or on HBO Max, despite it having finished shooting. Could this be the beginning of a cull? Perhaps, but The Batman 2 won’t be touched.
Why was Batgirl canceled?
A cascade of reasons have been attributed to Batgirl’s cancelation: some have said it simply wasn’t good enough; others think it didn’t fit into the overarching plans for the DCEU; and crucially, it appears to have been a financial decision, with the studio reportedly taking a “tax write-down” on the film.
Until recently, Warner Bros. was under the stewardship of Jason Kilar, who heavily prioritized increasing HBO Max’s subscriber base with day-and-date releases of Dune, Godzilla vs. Kong, The Matrix Resurrections, and other films.
This caused a rift between the studio and filmmakers; most of all, Christopher Nolan, who packed his bags and moved to Universal Pictures for Oppenheimer as a result.
Batgirl was intended for release on HBO Max, so there’s never been any deception regarding screenings in cinemas. However, amid Netflix’s stock price plummeting and Batgirl’s budget reaching in excess of $80 million, the powers that be decided it didn’t have the “spectacle that audiences have come to expect,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.
In a statement, Warner Bros. said: “The decision to not release Batgirl reflects our leadership’s strategic shift as it relates to the DC universe and HBO Max.”
Will The Batman 2 be canceled next?
It’s understandable why Batgirl has raised the alarm of The Batman 2 being canceled. If a movie that’s already been shot can be easily shelved, what’s to stop the studio from getting rid of projects still in development?
Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav, who took over from Kilar following the recent merger, is “prioritizing cost-cutting measures and refocusing Warners on creating theatrical films rather than projects for streaming.”
In an earlier interview with Variety, he said: “When you open a movie in theaters, it has a whole stream of monetization. More importantly, it’s marketed. It builds a brand so when it does go to a streaming service there’s a view that it has a higher quality that benefits the streaming service.”
Importantly, he praised The Batman, saying it “did extremely well in generating viewership and interest even though it was in movie theaters first. It’s a great sign for the motion picture business.”
Ergo, it’s safe to assume Zaslav has no plans to halt development on Matt Reeves and Robert Pattinson’s sequel, nor should we expect any cancelations for the likes of Black Adam, Aquaman 2 or The Flash.
While the latter film has its own controversies, these are movies that have been marketed thus far as big-screen events. The Batman also grossed north of $770 million, even with more restrictive age ratings in some territories, so the sequel’s success is almost preordained.
What will Warner Bros. cancel after Batgirl?
While The Batman 2 is safe, other projects could be in the firing line. Comic book movie viewers have been expressing concern over Blue Beetle, which was originally planned as an HBO Max release before pivoting to theatrical.
It’s due to hit cinemas in August next year. Director Angel Manuel Soto has been liking several tweets rallying in support of the movie, but there’s not been any update at the time of writing.
According to IGN’s Jim Vejvoda, six projects have been canceled: Cyborg, Green Lantern Corps, Justice League Dark, Batgirl, New Gods, and an Amazons spin-off.
HBO Max-centric projects still being developed include a Black Canary movie following Birds of Prey, and shows and films based around Constantine, Madame X, Zatanna, Hourman, Static Shock, Gotham Knights, and Aqualad.
There aren’t any plans for Batgirl to be released in any capacity.