Movies

Batgirl backlash: Furious director hits back at fans: ‘STFU’

The Flash Trailer with Ezra Miller and Michael Keaton

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Batgirl is a fan-favourite character that has been integral to Batman’s mythos for decades. The alter-ego of Barbara Gordon, her history is long and complicated, inevitably leading to many fans having their own opinions on what should be done with her on-screen. As the daughter of Commissioner Gordon and eventual sidekick to The Dark Knight himself, her story has become defined by The Killing Joke graphic novel, in which she is shot down by the Joker. The new film looks to be exploring the origins of the character, her Year One adventure. Getting a superhero’s costume right is one of the most important first steps for any comic book movie, but some fans have already slammed the choices. On social media, one wrote: “That is awful. I mean, really bad. Who signs off on this s**t???”  

It’s become something of a tradition for first-look photos from superhero films to be met with criticism. There was a backlash against the debut images of Heath Ledger’s Joker and Ben Affleck’s Batman just to name a couple. Now it is Batgirl’s turn, with Leslie Grace’s premiere as the Bat-family member being met with derision online.  

A vocal section of fans has been calling out the reimagined look, with many of them taking to Twitter to share their disdain. @oz_0147 wrote: “Nice cosplay!” While @tproz40 added: “Looks like a CW costume.”

Since the image dropped last week, the cast and crew have remained silent on the situation – until now. Taking to Instagram, director Adil El Arbi shared the meme of Batman slapping Robin that has been circling the internet for years. He changed the text in the speech bubbles, with Robin saying: “It looks like a cospla….” Before Batman slaps back saying: “STFU and wait for the film.”  

Batgirl’s new look is clearly inspired by The New 52, the 2011 revamp and relaunch of DC Comics. In it, many characters were updated to better reflect the 21st century with varying success. Barbara’s costume was a massive hit though, sporting a grounded style that incorporated real-world clothing items. She even donned bright yellow Doc Martin boots, which in 2014 resulted in an uptick in sales for the legacy brand.

The film’s style doesn’t just end there though, as it is also bringing in inspiration from the Adam West original series from 1966. Yvonne Craig played Batgirl in it, changing the Dark Knight’s black and grey for purple and yellow. The 2022 outfit has combined The New 52 with the 1966 looks for a wholly original version of both.

Director Arbi is joined by Bilall Fallah, with the pair both overseeing production on the new Gotham City spin-off. The duo is best known for directing Bad Boys for Life, but they aren’t new to the superhero craze. They have each produced two episodes of Ms Marvel, the upcoming Disney Plus series which takes place in the MCU.

As for Batgirl itself, much of the film will depend on the events of the upcoming The Flash movie. It is set to be the first in the new era of the DCEU, one which has reset the timeline after the events of Zack Snyder’s Justice League.

The Flash will see Ezra Miller’s Barry Allen run back through time in a bid to change his past mistakes. In doing so, he will rip open the fabric of the universe, unleashing a multiverse of Batmen and various Flash incarnations. One Batman will be Affleck’s, who has confirmed it will be the last time he plays the Caped Crusader, saying it “put a really nice finish on my experience with that character.”

Michael Keaton will also be coming back after 1992’s Batman Returns. In a welcome move for fans, he will be stepping in as the older and wiser version of the character, mentoring the younger vigilantes on what it means to be a hero. As such, he will also be appearing in Batgirl, taking on a Batman Beyond type role. 

JK Simmons is also returning as Commissioner Gordon, last seen in Justice League. Rounding out the main cast is Brendan Fraser as Firefly, one of the Bat-Family’s recurring villains over the decades. Fraser is also connected to DC, starring in the series Doom Patrol. Yet, this is a part of The CW’s Arrowverse, not the DCEU. However, as Ezra Miller’s Barry Allen did appear in The Flash series and the multiverse is knocking on DC’s door, anything is possible in this modern age of the superhero genre.

The film is slated for a 2022 release date, though Warner Brothers have not confirmed a precise premiere. It will release via HBO Max in the USA, meaning UK fans will likely catch it on NOW, though this is similarly unconfirmed.

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