“Batgirl” co-director Adil El Arbi revealed that Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige offered him and partner Bilall Fallah words of encouragement after Warner Bros. axed their film, opting not to release it theatrically or on streaming as originally planned.
In a screenshot of an email posted to Arbi’s Instagram Story, Feige wrote, “My friends I had to reach and let you know we are all thinking about you both. Because of the wonderful news about the wedding (congrats!) and the disappointing news about Batgirl. Very proud of you guys and all the amazing work you do and particularly Ms. Marvel of course! Can’t wait to see what is next for you. Hope to see you soon.” (Arbi married journalist Loubna Khalkhali the same day news of the cancellation broke.)
A separate post from the filmmaker revealed that Edgar Wright (“Last Night in Soho”) and James Gunn (“The Suicide Squad”) also reached out to support the duo following the news. “Your kind words and experience mean a lot and help us through this difficult period,” Arbi said on Instagram.
In addition to helming the first and last episode of “Ms. Marvel,” Arbi and Fallah directed “Bad Boys for Life,” the 2020 threequel to Will Smith and Martin Lawrence’s buddy action-comedy film. The duo were set to follow in Gunn’s footsteps by directing both Marvel and DC projects, as the “Peacemaker” creator was also behind all three “Guardians of the Galaxy” films. Similar to Arbi and Fallah, Wright was also set to helm a comic book adaptation with “Ant Man,” spending years developing the film before exiting due to creative differences.
Earlier this week, Warner Bros. Discovery announced that the nearly finished “Batgirl,” which cost $90 million to make, would not be released. “Batgirl” was developed under previous leadership and ultimately, the studio’s current leaders determined, in spite of reshoots and increased budget, that the movie did not work. CEO David Zaslav bluntly defended the decision, which is seeing the studio shift away from direct-to-streaming releases, saying, “We’re not going to put a movie out unless we believe in it. That’s it. The objective is to grow the DC brand, to grow the DC characters, but also our job is to protect the DC brand, and that’s what we’re going to do.”
Meanwhile, Arbi and Fallah said in an Instagram statement they were “saddened and shocked” by the announcement. “We still can’t believe it. As directors, it is critical that our work be shown to audiences, and while the film was far from finished, we wish that fans all over the world would have had the opportunity to see and embrace the final film themselves. Maybe one day they will insha’Allah,” the duo wrote.