Marvel star Zoe Saldana has blasted Warner Brothers for canning their $90M Batgirl movie as she came out in support of the film’s star Leslie Grace.
An incredulous Saldana, 44, aired her grievances with the studio in a post shared to her Instagram Stories Thursday morning.
‘Not fair… Truly atrocious act from a studio. For what? For a tax break?!’ the actress posted in bold font.
‘Not fair’: Marvel star Zoe Saldana has blasted Warner Brothers for canning their $90M Batgirl movie as she came out in support of the film’s star Leslie Grace
She also re-posted an Instagram Story from The Hollywood Reporter quoting a social media post Leslie shared addressing the canning on Wednesday.
‘To every Batgirl fan – THANK YOU for the love and belief, allowing me to take on the cape and become, as Babs said best, “my own damn hero!” Batgirl for life!’ Grace said.
The decision to axe Batgirl — which was slated to be released on HBO Max later this year — came after a series of test screenings were panned by audiences, and studio execs thought it would hurt the future of the brand as they seek to streamline the DC Extended Universe.
Grace spoke out for the first time after the axing and shared behind-the-scenes pictures and footage from the film’s production on Thursday.
‘For a tax break?!’ An incredulous Saldana, 44, aired her grievances with the studio in a post shared to her Instagram Stories Thursday morning; pictured April 2022
Showing her support: Saldana also re-posted an Instagram Story from The Hollywood Reporter quoting a statement Leslie made addressing the canning
Writing on Instagram following criticism of the sudden canceling from directors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah on Wednesday, the actress said she was proud of the movie executives deemed ‘awful’ following test screenings.
‘Querida familia! On the heels of the recent news about our movie ‘Batgirl,’ I am proud of the love, hard work and intention all of our incredible cast and tireless crew put into this film over seven months in Scotland,’ Grace wrote.
‘I feel blessed to have worked among absolute greats and forged relationships for a lifetime in the process! To every Batgirl fan – THANK YOU for the love and belief, allowing me to take on the cape and become, as Babs said best, ‘my own damn hero!”’
As she stood by the movie, Grace – who was set to star in the lead role as Batgirl – shared videos and pictures of the production, including several photos of herself in the Batgirl costume and of the crew having fun.
Grace, who was set to star as Batgirl, defended the $90 million movie on Wednesday after Warner Brothers executives canceled it
‘I am proud of the love, hard work and intention all of our incredible cast and tireless crew put into this film over seven months in Scotland,’ Grace wrote
As she stood by the movie, Grace shared videos and pictures of the production
Grace also showed off a video and her and her colleagues singing and dancing along to Nelly Furtado’s Promiscuous inside a tent
‘I am proud of the love, hard work and intention all of our incredible cast and tireless crew put into this film over seven months in Scotland,’ Grace wrote
One of the photos shows Grace posing in the purple superhero attire, complete with a black cape, flowing red hair and the Batgirl cowl over her face.
Another photo shows off Grace in blood and bruise makeup, relaxing inside a tent while wearing the costume. The actress was also wearing a large jacket and winter cap over the outfit.
Along with a photo of her unmasked, bloodied and bruised, Grace also shared what appears to be a picture from the film set of her and another actor running near a large fire.
Grace also posted a video of her and her co-stars singing along to Nelly Furtado’s Promiscuous inside a tent as they laughed.
At one point in the video, Grace jokes that Babs, the Batgirl character, can twerk as she dances to the song with her fellow actors before sharing a hug.
Another video Grace shared shows her in a dressing room removing her microphone and adjusting her costume’s pants as she sings Whitney Houston’s I Will Always Love You.
Grace’s defense of the movie came just hours after the directors voiced their disbelief that the movie had been canned, saying they wished Batgirl could have been shown to fans across the world.
But God willing ‘inshAllah’ it will be one day, Arbi and Fallahsaid said.
Another video Grace shared shows her in a dressing room removing her microphone and adjusting her costume’s pants as she sings Whitney Houston’s I Will Always Love You
Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah, the two directors of axed Batgirl, have spoken out after Warner Bros dropped the movie. Writing on Instagram, they wrote: ‘We are saddened and shocked by the news. We still can’t believe it’
The two directors wrote the statement to fans on social media, ending with the slogan ‘Batgirl For Life’
Those who have seen the film say she simply donned a Batman outfit for Halloween and proceeded to fight terrorists
Meet Leslie Grace: The Latina actress who would have played the DC Universe’s Batgirl
Leslie Grace Martinez was born to Dominican parents on January 7, 1995 in the Bronx and grew up in Davie, Florida.
While in middle school, she recorded and released an independent Christian music album in partnership with CD Baby, but her mainstream debut came with her cover of the 1961 Shirelles hit Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow.
By 2013, her self-titled album reached number four on the Billboard Latin Albums Chart and number three on the Billboard Tropical Albums chart.
The Batgirl film would have featured Latina actress Leslie Grace in the titular role as she battled Brendan Fraser’s Firefly who turned to a life of crime after he is fired from his job, loses his health insurance and could no longer care for his sick wife
Grace has been nominated for Best Contemporary Tropical Album, Female Tropical Artist at the 14th Annual Latin Grammy Awards, as well as Female Tropical Artist of the Year and Tropical Album of the Year at the 26th Premio Lo Nuestro.
In 2014 she also obtained nominations in the Billboard Awards in the categories of New Artist of the Year and Hot Latin Songs, Artist of the Year, Female.
Her acting debut began with the 2021 film adaptation of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tony Award winning musical In the Heights.
El Arbi and Fallah, who also directed Bad Boys For Life and Disney+’s Ms Marvel, wrote in a statement on Instagram: ‘We are saddened and shocked by the news. We still can’t believe it.
‘As directors, it is critical that our work be shown to audiences, and while the film was far from finished, we wish that fans all over the world would have had the opportunity to see and embrace the final film themselves.
‘Maybe one day they will insha’Allah.’
The directors continued: ‘Our amazing cast and crew did a tremendous job and worked so hard to bring Batgirl to life. We are forever grateful to have been part of that team.
‘It was a dream to work with such fantastic actors like Michael Keaton, JK Simmons, Brendan Fraser, Jacob Scipio, Corey Johnson, Rebecca Front, and especially the great Leslie Grace, who portrayed Batgirl with so much passion, dedications and humanity.
‘In any case as huge fans of Batman since we were little kids, it was a privilege and an honor to have been a part of the DCEU even if it was for a brief moment. Batgirl For Life.’
Batgirl was first given the greenlight in 2021 as part of a company-wide effort to create feature films specifically for HBO Max.
It would have featured Grace in the titular role as she battled Brendan Fraser’s Firefly who turned to a life of crime after he is fired from his job, loses his health insurance and could no longer care for his sick wife.
Warner Bros spokesperson said on Tuesday: ‘The decision to not release Batgirl reflects our leadership’s strategic shift as it relates to the DC universe and HBO Max.
‘Leslie Grace is an incredibly talented actor and this decision is not a reflection of her performance. We are incredibly grateful to the filmmakers of Batgirl and Scoob! Holiday Haunt and their respective casts and we hope to collaborate with everyone again in the near future.’
Filmmakers were told the decision came down to a ‘purchase accounting’ maneuver available to Warner Discovery because the company changed hands earlier this year.
It allows Warner Bros Discovery to not have to carry its losses forward while it tries to pare down its $3 billion in debt, according to Deadline.
And as it tries to recoup its losses, company officials are moving away from its strategy of releasing big budget movies to encourage subscriptions to HBO Max, and are instead focusing on creating large scale films that could compete in theaters.
By doing so, executives at a variety of production companies have decided, the films would have cultural relevance by the time they arrive on streaming platforms.
Holy Wokery Batgirl! TOM LEONARD investigates why Warner Bros’ $90million new superhero movie has been deemed so awful it will never be released
Night has fallen on Gotham City. Criminals and ne’er-do-wells are preparing to commit their devious acts. And now, there may be no one to stop them.
Batgirl, an apparently ‘woke’, big-budget film featuring a female version of the Caped Crusader, has been ignominiously scrapped — shocking the film world.
Condemned as ‘irredeemable’ by studio executives at Warner Bros, it seems that not even a lengthy spell in the editing room could rescue it. Nor was it good enough to send ‘straight to video’, as used to be said of films too bad for the cinema.
Despite being completely finished and reportedly having cost $90 million (£75 million), Batgirl will never be released in any format — not even on one of the internet streaming services that often seem willing to broadcast any old tat.
It may even be the most expensive film ever made that will never see the light of day.
The film had got as far as test screenings and was being slated for release in cinemas and on the U.S. streaming service HBO Max by the end of this year.
However, the audience feedback was so awful that — in an almost unprecedented move — Warner Bros has decided the reputational damage of releasing such a dud would be even worse than wasting the tens of millions of dollars it has already spent on it.
‘It just didn’t work,’ said an insider. The decision is also a blow for Glasgow, which had stood in for Gotham City in the movie.
The Batgirl film has been ‘canned’ by Warner Bros. after spending more than $90m on the movie because studio executives want to move away from made-for-streaming projects
Given the low standard of so much of the content on Netflix, Amazon Prime and other streaming services, and the fact that superhero films have a fanatically loyal audience, it all represents a jaw-dropping failure.
But why was it cancelled so late in the day, and after so much time, money and resources had been spent on it?
Some have alleged the film may have been scrapped rather than released for tax reasons; Warner Bros can now claim Batgirl as a tax write-off — helping it recoup some of its costs elsewhere. However, that doesn’t account for why the film was so bad in the first place.
And here there are certainly strong clues to suggest that Batgirl was only the latest in a long and disastrous line of Hollywood films that have prioritised politically correct values over entertainment. As Robin might say, Holy Woke, Batman!
Fans will remember that in the original comics, Batgirl is the night-time alter ego of Barbara Gordon, the daughter of Gotham City’s red-headed police commissioner Jim Gordon.
The star of the film was a little-known Afro-Latina singer-actress named Leslie Grace. This alone was a big risk as 27-year-old Grace’s only previous major acting role was in the box-office flop In The Heights, a ‘musical drama’ made by woke hero Lin-Manuel Miranda, the man behind the musical Hamilton.
Hollywood icon Michael Keaton was reprising his role as Batman, while Commissioner Gordon — Batgirl’s father — was played by the actor J.K. Simmons, who starred in 2002’s Spider-Man.
Batgirl being filmed in Glasgow after parts of the Scottish city were turned into ‘Gotham’
The film was directed by Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah, young Moroccan-Belgians best known for the TV series Ms Marvel, about a Muslim Pakistani-American teenage girl who is bullied at school until she develops superpowers.
When Ms Marvel was released in June, it received a tsunami of abuse from comic book fans complaining about its unbearable wokeness.
(The series is made by Disney, so progressive nowadays that it applies racism warnings to the crows in Dumbo and offers a children’s show — called ‘Baymax!’ — which features a scene in which a robot asks a transgender man what sort of sanitary product he should buy for a 12-year-old girl.)
Batgirl’s screenplay was by Christina Hodson, the British writer of ultra-feminist film Birds Of Prey, accused by one critic of ‘hating on men — all men . . . [and] dull to the point of numbing’.
Batgirl also featured a transgender character, Alysia Yeoh, Barbara Gordon’s flatmate, played by the trans actor Ivory Aquino.
The appearance, critics say, is of a film putting its ‘progressive’ values ahead of all other concerns.
And not for the first time. Superhero films — normally somewhere audiences might go to escape our era’s endless culture wars — have increasingly become major repositories of wokery.
In 2021, Marvel’s mega-budget movie Eternals — starring Angelina Jolie, Kit Harington and Richard Madden — was panned by fans and critics alike as dull and preachy. It included Marvel’s first gay superhero and its first deaf one.
Lightyear, a spin-off from Pixar’s celebrated Toy Story film series, was expected to be one of the biggest movies of this summer. Instead, it bombed.
Critics complained that it substituted liberal virtue-signalling — Buzz Lightyear’s commanding officer is a black lesbian and the film features the first same-sex kiss in a Pixar production — for the simple, unpoliticised joys of the original movies.
By contrast, this summer also saw the release of Top Gun: Maverick, a barnstorming reboot of the wildly popular 1986 film Top Gun, an action film about gung-ho American fighter pilots. It has provided a sharp rejoinder to Hollywood bosses who insist their increasingly right-on output is just a reaction to changing audience tastes and social mores.
Tom Cruise’s new film proudly re-treads much the same ground as the original Boy’s Own-style adventure, featuring virtually no women, no let-up in the shameless machismo and no scenes in which pilots question their sexuality or their patriotic devotion to U.S. firepower.
In short, it’s almost joyfully off-message with 2020s Hollywood.
Perhaps as a result, it’s been a monster hit with critics and at the box office — so far it’s the highest-grossing film of the year and, remarkably, given his long history of making blockbusters, even of Cruise’s career.
The decision on the film — which was to be released later this year — came after test screenings were panned by audiences, and studio execs thought it would hurt the future of the brand as they seek to rebrand the DC Extended Universe
With one recent exception — 2017’s entertaining romp Wonder Woman, starring Gal Gadot — films with female superheroes as the main attraction have generally not been commercial and critical triumphs, whatever their diligent support for girl power. Many have been simply dismal.
The trend began as far back as 1984, with Supergirl, a feminist remake of Superman starring Helen Slater and with supporting actors including Peter O’Toole and Faye Dunaway.
This has notched up an execrable 8 per cent approval rating on the critics’ aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes.
Catwoman, which arrived in 2004, scores only 9 per cent and regularly features in critics’ ‘worst movies ever’ lists. The film starred former Bond girl Halle Berry as Batman’s anti- heroine love interest (with superhuman feline abilities and a black leather catsuit).
The following year, Jennifer Garner squeezed into a similarly revealing outfit to star as Elektra, a supernatural assassin who has to protect an innocent man and his daughter. Nice switch of traditional gender roles there — except it, too, was a clunker, earning a dire 11 per cent on Rotten Tomatoes.
When will Hollywood get the message that audiences should be offered what they want to watch, instead of being spoon-fed sour-tasting woke medicine?
No time soon, it seems. Looming on the horizon are two big-budget TV series — House Of The Dragon (a prequel to Game Of Thrones) and The Lord Of The Rings: The Rings Of Power. Both have gone through the wokeness wringer.
Game Of Thrones became a huge hit a decade or so ago precisely because it was so politically incorrect — endless, graphic violence broken up with plenty of gratuitous nudity.
House Of The Dragon will reportedly feature ‘gender fluidity’, a non-binary actor and barely any sex.
As for Amazon’s £400 million Rings Of Power series (a prequel to The Lord Of The Rings), it has been accused of veering sharply from J.R.R. Tolkien’s vision to feature black dwarves and hobbits, female orcs and powerful women characters that were never in his much-loved books.
Will they be as thrillingly popular as the original characters — or will they, too, slink into the shadows like Batgirl?