To the Batcave! (Or Not)
The Cancellation of Batgirl
As various news outlets have been reporting for the last couple of days, the DC Extended UniverseStarted as DC Comics' answer to the MCU, the early films in the franchise stumbled out of the gates, often mired in grim-dark storytelling and the rushed need to get this franchise started. Eventually, though, the films began to even out, becoming better as they went along. Still, this franchise has a long way to go before it's true completion for Marvel's universe.-linked, HBOThe oldest and longer-running cable subscription service, HBO provides entertainment in the force of licensed movies along with a huge slate of original programming, giving it the luster of the premiere cable service.-excluse Batgirl film has been canceled. Intended for release later this year (and somehow tying into the Burton-era BatmanOne of the longest running, consistently in-print superheroes ever (matched only by Superman and Wonder Woman), Batman has been a force in entertainment for nearly as long as there's been an entertainment industry. It only makes sense, then that he is also the most regularly adapted, and consistently successful, superhero to grace the Silver Screen.), the movie (which was in the final phases of post-production, apparently) has been put on a shelf, never to see the light of day. One more casualty of the Discovery/Warner Bros. merger.<
So what happened? Well, if you listen to the folks at Discovery, the movie was canned because the initial cut of the film (as seen by test audiences) was "irredemable". The film was apparently so bad that, despite the studio having sunk $90 Mil into it already (and, again, having a cut that was basically done), Warners felt it was better to simply cut their losses. The party line is that releasing the film would have "irreprably damaged the company's brand". Considering this is the company that, over theh years, has seen the releases of Superman IV: The Quest for Peace, Supergirl, Steel, Batman and Robin, and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, that seems a little farfetched.
Now, sure, those films were released by different management (and via different forms of the company), but my larger point still stands: Warner Bros. have released some pretty dog-shit superhero omovies over the years, and continued to do so even when people said, "hey, these suck," so it's hardly likely that Batgirl was so bad that even the WB said, "hooo, this aint worth the $90 Mil we've alreaady suck into it." Clearly there was something more going on.
The real reason that seems to be coming out is that Discovery scrapped not just Batgirl but a number of other projects at or near ready for release (such as the planned Scoob! sequel) to take a nice tax write-off. the soon-to-be combined studio has been axing projects left and right to cut things down to the bone, all so they can save money, and being able to scrap a bunch of projects from the "old management" so they can take a bunch of tax write-offs and pad their bottom line (and the wallets of all the executive) sounds exactly like what would have in a major studio in corporate America.
Some are proclaiming that the death of Batgirl spells the end of superhero dominance at the Box Office. On that front I think the data is a little too hard to parse just yet. For starters, Batgirl was never meant for theatrical release. It was made on a modest (for superheroes, at least) budget, intended for smaller screens. To take it and readapt it for theaters (which, reportedly, is where Discovey-WB wants to focus its resources) likely would have cost a ton of money (and maybe even required reshooting most of the film). That wasn't going to happen.
It is fair to say that probably somme luster has come off the superhhero genre post-Avengers: Endgame. Marvel has been struggling to figure out the right direction for the Marvel Cinematic UniverseWhen it first began in 2008 with a little film called Iron Man no one suspected the empire that would follow. Superhero movies in the past, especially those not featuring either Batman or Superman, were usually terrible. And yet, Iron Man would lead to a long series of successful films, launching the most successful cinema brand in history: the Marvel Cinematic Universe. in their new phases of movies, and fans have hardly been chomping at the bit for Kang and his Multiverse Saga, not the way Thanos carried the previous film saga. Things feels bloated and limp across the board right now, but it may be a little too early to say the whole of the superhero genre is on the way out.
More accurate is probably to state that the DC Extended UniverseStarted as DC Comics' answer to the MCU, the early films in the franchise stumbled out of the gates, often mired in grim-dark storytelling and the rushed need to get this franchise started. Eventually, though, the films began to even out, becoming better as they went along. Still, this franchise has a long way to go before it's true completion for Marvel's universe. is likely on the way out. That series of films has never taken off the way the WB would have liked, and since the release of Justice League the studio has tried to find a way to revamp and redeem their films. The DCEU, had it been successful, would have been a major jewel in the crown for the WB and corporate owners AT&T. Instead it was maimed and limping, AT&T shoved the WB out the door, and now their new owners want to clean house and kill everything from the old guard. That's normal business.
This isn't like Disney and Marvel. Disney bought Marvel (and their MCU) because those films became massively popular. It would have been unthinkable when Disney bought the comic studio for them to say, "hey, your shit sucks. Scrap it all." But for WB (and by extension DC ComicsOne of the two biggest comic publishing companies in the world (and, depending on what big events are going on, the number one company), DC Comics is the home of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and just about every big superhero introduced in the 1930s and 1940s.) their shit has sucked. Hard. There have been brights spots in their little sorta-shared universe, but by and large the WB has struggled to be a rival to Marvel. Discovery clearly knows this.
Right now the movies that are either done and likely to make theatrical money (Black Adam and Shazam: Fury of the Gods) or sequels to big hits (The Batman 2, Joker: Folie a Deux) are still in the pipeline. You can count on anything else with even a hint of trouble (maybe even The Flash will get the axe). It wasn't working, it probably will never truly get working, and it's likely time to wipe and rebuild.
That doesn't mean Discsovery-Warner is getting out of the superhero business. DC has too many big characters that can make money to just scrap everything entirely. Hell, Marvel isn't making as much money on their films as they used to and they still have a three-phase plan in places to build to the end of their next Saga. Until every superhero projects starts to crash and burn the genre should still be considered alive and kicking. One day it may die, but it's doubtful that day is any time soon.
Still, this is a sad day for fans of Batgirl. Good or bad, it would have at least been nice to see what all the fuss was about with her film. Maybe one day this canned project will get released and then we'll see what it was scrapped. Until then, though, we're left to wit and wonder just what Discovery has planned.