Fans were excited when it was announced that Brendan Fraser (The Whale, Doom Patrol) would be portraying the villainous Firefly in Batgirl, and were equally disappointed when they found out the entire movie would be shelved. Ever since the dreaded announcement, cast and crew have come out to talk about their time on the film, why they think it should have been released, and some have shared behind-the-scene info and even some footage from the ill-fated film. And Brendan Fraser is finally giving some of his thoughts.
During a recent appearance on The Howard Stern Show, Fraser shared some details about playing the character of Firefly in Batgirl:
“Yeah, it was great. Adil [El Arbi] and Bilall [Fallah], who did the Bad Boys movie, are really good at blowing s**t up and they love doing it. You know, like practical fire effects making stuff go bang, they’re all over it, and so firefly is right in their wheelhouse,” Fraser revealed. “Gotham never looked better cast as Glasgow, Scotland. You know it’s decaying and just gorgeous. It looks like it’s Gotham City. It’s perfectly cast. You believe it no matter where you look at the town, if you light it the right way. It was a story about a guy who had been in the service and his benefits were cut and he was very angry with the system and what else is he gonna do but burn it to the ground. That’s all you need to know. That’s a supervillain right there. You’ve got some sympathy for him. You’ve also got some humanity to him and on top of that a screw loose cause you know he’s the bad guy, but is he really like all the best bad guys, you kinda like them a little bit. That was this role. On paper very very good. I relished this part.”
Fraser spoke more about the film, and his disappointment when it was canceled:
“They all say really good things about it,” he explained. “But the thing about it was it was screened in a garden-variety test screening. It was a director’s cut, a first cut, it wasn’t finished. I mean, I don’t know about you, but I don’t eat half-baked cake. I don’t want to see something that’s not ready yet. The sad thing is that I don’t know if it was judged on merit. It wasn’t shown in the best light that it could have been. I mean, yes, once you give a film to the people and the world, it’s open season to criticize or praise it or whatever you want. But this didn’t even really get a fair shake.”
He went on to say that he’s sad the world won’t get to see Leslie Grace’s performance in the lead role. “Little girls are gonna have to wait longer now before they can see a Batgirl who they can identify that says ‘hey she looks just like me too’ in Leslie Grace and she was wonderful,” he added. “Oh gosh, she was good, really terrific. She’s a firecracker. Like dynamite comes in small packages for a reason. She’s a dynamo.”
Originally announced back in 2017, with Joss Whedon attached to direct, the Batgirl film has had a tumultuous history. After the failure of 2017’s Justice League, Whedon wound up leaving the project, originally saying he didn’t have any ideas for a good story, but later saying that wasn’t actually the case and that he “had an idea, it just didn’t fit in the space that was left for it.” Then in 2018, a relatively new writer by the name of Christina Hodson was brought on to the film. She went on to write the Transformers movie Bumblebee, as well as DC’s Birds of Prey in 2020 and the upcoming The Flash movie.
Then in May of 2021, Bad Boys For Life directors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah were tapped to helm the film, and cast Leslie Grace as the titular hero and Brendan Fraser as the villain Firefly. Their film was meant to tie into the aftermath of The Flash, with the return of J.K. Simmons’ Commissioner Gordon, as well as Michael Keaton’s Batman, who is set to reprise the role in the aforementioned The Flash movie.
But then, in August of 2022, after the Warner Bros./Discovery merger, it was announced that, even though the film was in post-production – as it had finished filming back in March – the studio no longer had any plans to release it, citing financial reasons and poor test screenings.
New co-CEO of DC Studios and long-time DC film producer Peter Safran even came out recently and said “There were a lot of incredibly talented people in front of and behind the camera on that film. But that film was not releasable. It happens sometimes. That film was not releasable.”
Now, we still don’t know if the reported rumors are true that the film was scrapped as a tax write-off and can now never be shown, but I for one hope that isn’t true, as I would love for this film, and those who worked so hard to make it, to get the chance to prove itself to the fans who had been waiting so long for it. If Zack Snyder’s Justice League can be allowed to be finished and released, so should Batgirl.