In all honesty, I thought something might be up when -- not all that long ago -- there was a sudden flurry of news blurbs hitting the Information Superhighway about (all of a sudden) these Warner Bros. and DC Comics properties being turned into major motion pictures, telefilms, and television series. Why, it seemed like a week wouldn't go by without yet one more piece of comic book intellectual property was going to be given an adaptation! Casts were announced! Directors were hired! Scripts were being written! By gosh and by golly, it just seemed like there would be no end to it!
And -- dare I mention this -- it all happened not all that long after Hollywood superspender and creative AntiChrist (my term) JJ Abrams was suddenly gifted All Things DC by the suits at Warner Bros.
Even back at the time, I thought a number of these projects were a bit suspect. After all, a few of them involved superheroes that -- no disrespect intended as I'm one of DC Comics' longer lasting fans -- just weren't big names. You know? They certainly didn't have marquee credentials. Blue Beetle? The Wonder Twins? Batgirl? Yes, yes, yes, each property -- along with their respective characters -- certainly have their own audience. It'd be silly to argue otherwise. But a solid handful of them going into active development ... all at the same time ... with no advance preparation or market testing or anything that's typically gone into building a brand? Really?
Lo and behold, a few months back it was announced that Warner Bros. new management had begun rethinking some of these assignments. From what little speculation had been put into the blogosphere, some of this was owed to the creative destruction left in the wake of the Justice League movie -- don't even get me started on the whole Joss Whedon and Zack Snyder business -- as well as the fact that none of these projects had turned much (if any) profit. And -- if memory serves me -- it was about this time that the blibs and blurbs started to leak out about how the DC TV properties on The CW had, essentially, bankrupted a network and even pushed the whole shebang so very deeply into the red that the channel was put up on the seller's block for anyone who wanted it. The future of these shows was suddenly in question, and word recently hit the web that the beloved incarnation of The Flash starring Grant Gustin would be ending with a truncated season next year. (Mind you: all of this hit also not all that long as did the news involving the silver screen 'star' Ezra Miller had been engaging in what looked to be a life of debauchery while on Warner Bros.'s dime.)
See ... nothing in or about Hollywood happens in a vacuum, people. If you're hearing these things being featured so predominantly in the press, then that likely means that somewhere some suit wants you to hear these things ... and that suit is likely hoping it'll inflict the maximum amount of damage to serve whatever secret and nefarious cause he or she supports.
It looks like that goal was achieved. Executives have been fired. The future of The CW, HBO Max, and a whole lot of intellectual property has been put in doubt ... and now the Batgirl film -- which has actually been completed -- is being permanently shelved so that the studio can claim its $90 million budget as a tax loss.
Just how bad must that film be?
Anyone who has done any bit of serious reading regarding some of the dumbest things Warner Bros. executives are allegedly to have said about the DC Comics films knows that this hasn't been the happiest creative marriage in all of Tinseltown. As is often the case when mergers of this sort happen, there's a love/hate relationship that blossoms very quickly; when those emotions are not brought under control, then both sides are apt to develop some bad blood along the way. I'm not entirely certain what any suit who greenlit a Batgirl movie was thinking -- especially putting it in the hands of a two-person directing team with no established track record in genre projects much less superhero stuff. Perhaps they thought, "Well, Batgirl isn't a big name, how big could the risk really be?" "Maybe it'll score well with the kids." "If anything, maybe the youth will confuse it with a Marvel movie and come to ours anyway?"
Whatever the truth may be and whatever efforts that went into creating a film that has been dubbed "irredeemable" by test audiences, I suspect there will be a few more heads chopped in the days ahead for the Batgirl supporters.
At least we can watch that from afar and enjoy the popcorn.