While The Flash‘s 83% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes doesn’t seem that bad on the surface, the film, one of the last in the DC Cinematic Universe epoch before James Gunn takes over, is still the biggest superhero movie box office flop in history, losing Warner Bros. Discovery over $200 million dollars.
Despite The Flash‘s plodding showing at the box office, Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah, directors of Batgirl — a DC Universe film that was canceled by Warner Bros. Discover execs — are still disappointed that their movie never had a chance to see the light of day.
“We watched [The Flash] and we were sad,” Adil said in an interview with Insider. “We love director Andy Muschietti and his sister Barbara, who produced the movie. But when we watched it, we felt we could have been part of the whole thing.”
Adil continued, “We didn’t get the chance to show ‘Batgirl’ to the world and let the audience judge for themselves. Because the audience really is our ultimate boss and should be the deciders of if something is good or bad, or if something should be seen or not.”
One of the first actions taken by newly appointed CEO David Zaslav for Warner Bros. Discovery in 2020 was the cancelation of Batgirl, not only theatrically but even on the company’s streaming service, Max (then known as HBO Max). Batgirl, which was in post-production when the decision was finalized, featured actress Leslie Grace (In the Heights) in the titular role, Academy Award-winner Brendan Fraser (The Whale, The Mummy) as arsonist antagonist Firefly, J.K. Simmons (Spider-Man, Law & Order) as Commissioner Gordon and Michael Keaton appearing as Batman (a role which he reprised for the first time since 1992 in The Flash).
“Our movie was very different than ‘The Flash,'” Adil said. “That has a big fantasy component, ours was more grounded. More like Tim Burton’s Gotham City.”
One of the biggest frustrations with Batgirl‘s cancelation for the directors, fresh off their stint on Bad Boys for Life, was that they wouldn’t be allowed to showcase their portrayal of Michael Keaton’s Batman.
“I felt like a kid on set working with Keaton,” Bilall said. “I totally forgot that I was directing.”
The filmmakers noted that Keaton and the rest of the cast touched base with them when the news of Batgirl‘s cancelation hit.
“He was sad but he also said he had fun,” Adil said of Keaton.
“It’s the biggest disappointment of our careers,” Adil added. “As a fanboy, just to be in the presence of Keaton as Batman, that’s just a privilege and an honor. But it’s a bittersweet feeling.”
Notwithstanding, the directors harbor no ill-will towards DC, and still have the hope that their “unfinished business” can go finished one day.
“There’s still a feeling of unfinished business,” Bilall said.
“Our love for DC, Batman, Batgirl, Gotham City, it’s so big that, as fans, we could never say no to another project,” Adil said. “If we got another chance to be part of it, we’d do it. We didn’t get our day in court. We still want to make our case.”