Among the many upcoming Batman movies (or titles related to Bruce Wayne’s alter ego, at least), one of the most highly anticipated of the bunch would have featured a different member of the Bat Family in the lead. Unfortunately, following a controversial decision made by Warner Bros. CEO David Zaslav to cancel the release of Batgirl, it looks we will never see Leslie Grace’s take on the title role in what would have been the hero’s first appearance in a live-action movie since 1997’s Batman & Robin.
However, the cinematic return of Barbara Gordon was only one of several reasons DC fans with an HBO Max subscription were excited for directors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah's almost finished, $90 million streaming exclusive. Now, they are one of the several reasons why fans are upset that the Batgirl movie may never see the light of day (or the dark of night, for that matter). In an attempt to keep the dream of the film alive somehow, let’s revisit all the confirmed and recently leaked plot details from the film that we wished we could have seen — starting with the long-awaited return of one of the brightest actors to play the Dark Knight.
Michael Keaton As Batman
While he received much acclaim for his performance as Vulture in Spider-Man: Homecoming, the comic book character Michael Keaton is most widely celebrated for is the title hero of Tim Burton’s classic DC flicks, 1989’s Batman and Batman Returns from 1992.
The Academy Award nominee’s biggest fans rejoiced when it was announced that he would appear in the Batgirl cast in the cape and cowl — which has seen some interesting updates based on Adil El Arbi’s Instagram story (via IGN). Now, it appears that Keaton’ Batmanaissance will only live on through his role in the upcoming Flash movie (if that doesn’t get scrapped, too) following Batgirl’s cancellation and, reportedly, his replacement by Ben Affleck’s Bruce Wayne in Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom.
J.K. Simmons’ Return As Jim Gordon
Michael Keaton was not the only DC movie veteran whose announced return in Batgirl had fans excited, especially since J.K. Simmons had only been given one other opportunity (two if you count Zack Snyder’s Justice League) to shine in the role of James Gordon.
What really would have made the Academy Award winner’s appearance particularly special is that it would have been his first time portraying the Gotham City Police Commissioner as Barbara Gordon’s father. In fact, it would have been the first time we saw their father-daughter dynamic in a live-action, feature-length film, as Alicia Silverstone’s iteration in Batman & Robin was depicted as the niece of Alfred Pennyworth (Michael Gough).
Brendan Fraser’s DC Movie Debut As The Firefly
Batgirl was actually going to be packed with several landmark firsts, such as the live-action feature film debut of Firefly — a Golden Age DC villain who has had various TV appearances previously. The actor bringing the pyromaniac to life was The Mummy star Brendan Fraser in what would have been his first DC movie, following his role in HBO Max’s Doom Patrol cast as the voice of Robotman. Recalling what a Bargirl test screening viewer told him on his podcast, The Town (via The Direct), Hollywood insider Matt Belloni claimed that Firefly would be revealed as a suspect in the murder of Barbara Gordon’s mother.
DC Villain Killer Moth’s Live-Action Movie Debut
Firefly was not the only DC villain named after an insect who was set to make their feature film debut in Batgirl. Shortly after the film was officially scrapped, stunt performer Jules Wallace revealed on his Instagram that he doubled as Killer Moth, who actually worked in cahoots with Firefly in Batgirl: Year One — a 2003 DC Comics miniseries that Leslie Grace quoted when revealing herself in costume on her Instagram. However, based on Wallace’s photo, it looks like this would have been a whole new version of the character that was more like a street-wise, tattooed gangster instead of mad man dressed as a bug.
The First Transgender Character In A Live-Action DC Movie
One of the most exciting landmark firsts that Batgirl also would have boasted is the first transgender character to appear in a DC movie and, in fact, the first transgender character in a major superhero movie on record. Said character is Barbara Gordon’s roommate Alysia Yeoh, who was introduced in the comics during the New 52 reboot in 2011, and the actor portraying her was Ivory Aquino.
The openly transgender, Filipina-American woman is best known from the biographical miniseries When We Rise as activist Cecilia Chung, which she followed with guest appearances in TV shows like Blue Bloods and New Amsterdam, and roles in films like the 2019 romance, Lingua Franca, and the sci-fi mystery, Lapsis, from 2020.
Reference To Michelle Pfeiffer’s Catwoman
As one might expect from a comic book adaptation, Batgirl would have also had a fair share of fun Easter Eggs for DC fans to excitedly point and holler at — one of which was closely related to Michael Keaton’s character. Matt Belloni also revealed in his aforementioned claims on The Town that the film would have referenced Michelle Pfeiffer’s acclaimed performance as Catwoman in Batman Returns with a shot of her famous crudely stitched, vinyl mask. The podcaster assured that the Academy Award nominee herself — who is now part of the MCU and will reprise Janet Van Dyne on the Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania cast — did not appear in the film, but it sounds like a fun tribute, nonetheless.
A Post-Flash, DC Universe Reset Setting
On The Town, Matt Belloni also provided an explanation for how Michael Keaton’s Batman could have existed alongside Leslie Grace’s Barbara Gordon and J.K. Simmons’ Jim Gordon in the DCEU canon setting of Batgirl.
The film was intended to take place after the events of Andy Muschietti’s The Flash, which takes inspiration from DC Comics’ famous Flashpoint storyline and would have, essentially, revamped the entire universe with a mix of newer and classic cinematic characters. It appears that Batgirl would have been our first taste of this interesting new trajectory for the DCEU after The Flash would have initiated the reset, but, following the announcement that a new plan for the shared universe is in store from WarnerMedia, there is no telling exactly what the future holds.
Personally, my excitement for upcoming DC movies has still not faltered, even after the cancellation of Batgirl, but this was one of the films I was anticipating the most. Perhaps we should not lose hope just yet that we will never get a chance to see the finished product, especially in a world in which #ReleaseTheSnyderCut became a reality. Maybe Batgirl was not even the movie we needed right now, but I think it is one we deserve, especially for the plot details listed above.
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Jason Wiese writes feature stories for CinemaBlend. His occupation results from years dreaming of a filmmaking career, settling on a "professional film fan" career, studying journalism at Lindenwood University in St. Charles, MO (where he served as Culture Editor for its student-run print and online publications), and a brief stint of reviewing movies for fun. He would later continue that side-hustle of film criticism on TikTok (@wiesewisdom), where he posts videos on a semi-weekly basis. Look for his name in almost any article about Batman.