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Batgirl directors reflect on "traumatic," "unprecedented" cancellation

Batgirl directors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah are still willing to work with Warner Bros. Discovery after the shocking cancelation of their DC film

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Batgirl directors reflect on traumatic, unprecedented cancellation
Bilal Fallah and Adil El Arbi
Photo: Tim P. Whitby (Getty Images)

Warner Bros. Discovery’s cancellation of Batgirl is one of the entertainment industry’s biggest stories of the year. Directors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah have expressed their optimism that someday, some way, fans will be able to see the film, starring Leslie Grace in the titular role. As it stands, though, the situation “was a traumatic experience,” as Fallah told Deadline at the Red Sea International Film Festival, where the duo are screening their new film Rebel.

“At that time, it was pretty unprecedented, so it was like movie history, but in a crazy way,” El Arbi reflected for the outlet. He added that “[there’s] nothing that we can do to influence” WB Discovery into releasing the film, though he speculated the current success of Brendan Fraser (who played the film’s villain) could boost Batgirl’s reputation. Even so, he continued: “Should it maybe be released, there’s still a lot of work to be done and I don’t know if they are really going to go back for that,” he said.

In a separate interview with The Hollywood Reporter, the directors said they couldn’t attend the “funeral screenings” for Batgirl because they were in Belgium. That version apparently wasn’t even the latest edit, and they weren’t that far into the process to begin with: “We still needed additional photography, there were a lot of scenes missing and the VFX was not there,” El Arbi shared. He reiterated uncertainty that the studio would ever want to finish the film adding, “[Sometimes] we think it’s fucked, but sometime it’s like… maybe!”

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“It was unbelievable how much support we got,” Fallah told THR. “There was so much support from people in the industry, it felt like all the artists were supporting us and that’s great feeling, because you feel like you’re not alone.”

One of those supporters was James Gunn–who hasn’t formally met with the duo since becoming DC’s head honcho, “[but] the meetings are in the books,” El Arbi teased. It may come as a surprise that the filmmakers would still want to play in that particular playground after the Batgirl trauma, but as El Arbi explained, “You’ve got to imagine, we’re two fanboys and for one second we were in the Batman universe, following in the footsteps of Zack Snyder and Christopher Nolan, and then it was just like we woke up and it was a dream!”

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El-Arbi snuck in a pitch for the pair to helm a big-screen Batman Beyond, while Fallah confirmed that they would indeed be willing to work with the studio again. “But on the condition that the movie comes out,” he quite reasonably stipulated. “I mean, if Warner says ‘Do you want to do the next Batman or Superman?,’ of course we’ll say yes. Just so long as the movie comes out!”