One of the film genres that have been nearly constantly successful over the past decade has been superhero films. Sure, some don't do well or are not well received, but for every Captain Marvel there are three Captain America movies, so it works out. The past few years have seen many films delayed in release, but MANY new titles have been announced to be released over the next few years. This week, however, it was announced that one superhero film would never see the light of day: Batgirl.
Warner Bros. Discovery, the parent of DC Comics, announced that Batgirl has been officially canceled. This happens from time to time when production doesn't go to plan, or behind-the-scenes conflicts make creating the movie simply too difficult or impossible. This time, though, what happened is a little different. Batgirl isn't having production issues. In fact, it's been completed and is theoretically ready to release.
What happened is that the movie isn't very good. Test screenings seem to suggest that those who saw the movie were less than impressed, causing Warner Bros. Discovery to reconsider their entire plan to release the movie to the world. In fact, it's so bad that the company decided it wasn't even worth releasing on either of its streaming services, HBO Max or Discovery+.
A complicated environment
Another issue that led to the decision is deeper down and a little inside baseball. The newly merged company seems to be completely reconsidering its DC investments beyond just this single film. The Arrow-verse is dead, with The Flash TV show coming to an end following a shortened 9th season. The DC movie universe seems to be in trouble, with The Flash film star Ezra Miller continuing to spiral into legal trouble.
So, what's going on? It would appear that Discovery, now in charge of the merged brand, has decided to take the DC media investments in a new direction. There are problems with stars, there are problems with production, and there is a problem with actual storytelling. With all of that in the atmosphere, DC and Warner Bros. seem to be trying to decide what to do with the high-profile brand.
What could be coming
It is possible that the new owner is intending to follow Marvel's very early lead, bringing together a multi-faceted media experience across the company's brand offerings. This could mean that there are not two versions of The Flash (one on TV and one in theaters) at the same time, telling different stories with different actors. The end result could be TV series and film series that are interconnected, with characters showing up in a film and then followed by a series to explore their back story.
The company now has the power, focus, and distribution methods to accomplish this. HBO Max and Discovery+ will become a single, powerful network with content from all of the company's properties. The company also owns TV distribution and has agreements for extended distribution. Plus, Warner Bros. is a large movie studio - meaning they could potentially compete with Disney and Marvel with a continuous universe that keeps people consistently invested.