‘Irredeemable’ Batgirl movie shelved along with DC Films’ first trans character
DC Films has unexpectedly cancelled its Batgirl film, despite it having already been filmed.
The film – which was to introduce DC Films’ first transgender character, played by Ivory Aquino – was due to be released on HBO Max.
But it was confirmed on Tuesday (2 August) that the film won’t see the light of day. According to The New York Post, which broke the story, early test screenings didn’t bode well for the film, with a source saying: “They think an unspeakable Batgirl is going to be irredeemable.”
Batgirl was to star Leslie Grace as titular hero Batgirl AKA Barbara Gordon, JK Simmons as her father detective James Gordon, Brendan Fraser as Firefly and Michael Keaton, who would have reprised his role as Batman.
Warner Bros Discovery reportedly spent more than $100 million on the film, way over its $70 million budget. The film’s finances were reportedly a factor in the decision.
Despite the budget being smaller than that of most superhero films, it now ranks as one of the most expensive cancellations in cinema history.
According to Deadline journalist Justin Kroll, a rival studio exec called him after the story broke, saying: “Worked in this town for three decades and this is some unprecedented s**t right here.”
A minute after this story posted got a call from a rival studio exec who was floored by move. "Worked in this town for three decades and this is some unprecedented shit right here." https://t.co/A3aBLPulWz
— Justin Kroll (@krolljvar) August 2, 2022
Batgirl was initially greenlit in early 2021, with the casting of trans actor Ivory Aquino’s inclusion breaking in January 2022.
Aquino is best known for her role as trans activist Cecilia Chung in the docudrama When We Rise, and came out while promoting the series in 2017.
DC and Warner Bros were applauded for casting a trans woman in a trans role, with LGBTQ+ media advocacy organisation GLAAD congratulating Aquino for “this major news.”
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She would have played Alysia Yeoh, who made her comic book debut in 2011 in Batman Vol. 4.
Writer Gail Simone told Wired in a 2013 interview that she felt comics should reflect diversity in society.
“Why in the world can we not do a better job of representation of not just humanity, but also our own loyal audience?” she said.
The character was celebrated as one of the first transgender characters to appear in a mainstream comic book, and her inclusion has paved the way for further gender-diverse characters.
On 12 May, Marvel introduced a new trans mutant superhero named Escapade as part of its 2022 Pride Month comic lineup.