Ms. Marvel Directors Adil El Arbi And Bilall Fallah Compare Their Work In The MCU To Their Upcoming Batgirl

Some incredibly talented directors have burst onto the cinematic scene as of late, and Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah are definitely a part of that group. The duo has been making movies for the past several years, but they truly rose to prominence when they helmed Bad Boys for Life. More recently, they’ve made their way into the superhero genre with Marvel Studios’ Ms. Marvel (which is currently available to those with Disney+ subscriptions). And even before the show was released, they’d already been tapped to direct Warner Bros. and DC Films’ Batgirl. The two comic book adaptations certainly have their similarities and differences, but how exactly do they compare? Well, El Arbi and Fallah have spoken to that. 

Kamala Khan and Barbara Gordon are somewhat alike. They’re both capable young women with a desire to fight the good fight and are passionate about protecting their respective cities. However, they both have different power sets, with Khan’s being more energy-based (in the Marvel Cinematic Universe) and Gordon’s more reliant on her fighting skills and gadgets. When I spoke with Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah during the press junket for Marvel Studios’ latest TV venture, I couldn’t help but ask about how the series informed their approach to the upcoming DC movie. When answering, El Arbi provided insight into the other factors that went into the pair of productions:

Batgirl was this origin story, and Ms. Marvel, too. I mean those two characters, we start with them from the beginning, and then you have the responsibility that you have to take on. And it was interesting to see how you need to design a character that you care about, and you relate to, even though they are eventually in these extraordinary circumstances. But obviously, Ms. Marvel is a teenager, she’s in that colorful animation world that we put in it. And Batgirl is in Gotham City with some darkness and more serious as an adult and [Kamala Khan’s] a teenager, and you have really the spectrum. But there's a lot of similarities between the two of them.

These comments suggest that the directors understand what’s needed for both of the beloved comic book characters. For instance, in the case of Ms. Marvel, a lighter touch was needed, and that’s something that many have seemingly appreciated about the critically acclaimed MCU show. On the other hand, it sounds like Batgirl is going to be a bit more mature, which makes sense considering that you’re dealing with a Gotham City-set story that involves the villainous Firefly, played by Brendan Fraser

Not much is known in the way of specific plot details when it comes to the DC Comics’ adaptation, but the tidbits that have been dropped so far tease a tale that’ll stay true to the source material. Before the Leslie Grace-led movie wrapped in April, she dropped the first look at her comics-accurate costume. The movie will also see the return of J.K. Simmons’ Commissioner Gordon, who will be showing off a paternal side that wasn’t apparent in Justice League.

Though the directors’ most recent comic book venture took place in the DC Universe, they’re still hoping to do more work in the MCU. They actually pitched future Marvel gigs for themselves during our chat, including an X-Men film and a live-action flick starring the Miles Morales iteration of Spider-Man. Personally, I think they’d be great fits for either property.

Their next superhero project doesn’t appear to be set in stone just yet, but I’m confident that they’ll receive more opportunities to craft comic book features. Ahead of that though, I’m curious to see what they do with Batgirl and the Ms. Marvel season finale in a few weeks.

Ms. Marvel drops new episodes on Disney+ every Thursday as part of the 2022 TV schedule. Meanwhile, Batgirl is slated to hit HBO Max, but a release date has yet to be announced.

Erik Swann
Senior Content Producer

Covering superheroes, sci-fi, comedy, and almost anything else in film and TV. I eat more pizza than the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.