Batgirl: What DC’s film scrapping reveals about Hollywood — and capitalism
I like a good DVD set. Give me the full filmography of a director I’ve never heard of, or a show that was canceled after two seasons, and I’ll be happy. I’ll probably never get to watch it, I just want to own it. Bonus points if it’s a weird shape or some kind of unwieldy sculpture. The harder it is to fit on my shelf, the better.
My compulsive hoarding of pop culture ephemera was just one of those annoying quirks about me; one that made it impossible to move easily or convince potential friends and lovers that I was a functioning adult. However, as we move towards an almost entirely digital media landscape, where streaming companies have the power to withhold movies and TV episodes they find controversial or unprofitable, physical media collection becomes less a hobby and no longer a necessity.
Protecting the art we have becomes increasingly important as studios begin to treat it more and more like any other commodity, liable to be discarded at any time for reasons we may not be. never even know.
A few weeks ago it was announced that Warner Bros Discovery bat girl the film would be shelved by the company’s new owners, never to be released to the public despite being more or less completed. The makers of the $90m (£77m) film claim they were unable to access the servers containing the footage after the decision was made, and subsequent reports revealed the company would soon destroy all footage. traces of the film in order to write it off for tax purposes.
The fact that we don’t get to see another superhero movie about a Batman C-list character probably doesn’t strike you as the greatest tragedy in the world, and I understand that. The quality of Warner Bros. DC movies has been hit or miss at the best of times, and we’re unlikely to be deprived of the next one. Citizen Kane here. But it’s still pretty weird, isn’t it?
It’s bizarre that hundreds of cast and crew can have months of hard work sacrificed on the altar of capitalism in exchange for tax relief. Was the movie really that bad? Did they accidentally mix up some of the script pages with my old Commissioner Gordon/Alfred fiction, tainting the film beyond repair? If so, that’s fair enough, but it seems unlikely (I keep all my fanfiction on a private server).
What is even stranger is the fact that, while Warner Bros decided to remove bat girlthe company still seems to be moving forward with next year’s release Glow film, despite the fact that its lead star Ezra Miller has spent the last year sabotaging his own reputation.
Although Miller recently requested mental health support, that doesn’t change the fact that Warner Bros. made no effort to pull the film when allegations against the actor included burglary, assault and, at one point. time, a potential kidnapping. Seriously, does the bat girl the directors accidentally film a murder or something?
From a very basic public relations standpoint, choosing to drop the innocuous enough girl movie while keeping the hugely controversial boy movie is such a stupid decision that I first thought it would be part of an extremely sophisticated 4-D marketing campaign. It’s worse when you consider that bat girlThe main character of was to be an outspoken and proud lesbian, and another significant character was to be played by a trans woman. Each of these things would have been a first for the DC Extended Universe and would have allowed Warner Bros. to make a real statement after a decade of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s often anemic gestures towards diversity).
Even from the perspective of pure, unfiltered capitalism, we’re talking about a Batman movie here. Not only that, but a Batman movie that would have seen the return of Michael Keaton’s iteration of the character from Tim Burton’s 1989 film. The cynic in me means this all happened because new bosses at Warner are solely driven by profit, but after a certain point it just feels like they wanted to set a big pile of money on fire to send a message. Is the new CEO of Warner the Joker? It’s as sensible a theory as anything I can think of.
What I do know is that a movie studio that gives itself carte blanche to remove even mediocre art sets a disturbing precedent. Studios have always had the option of altering films as they’re made or re-editing them after the fact into something foreign to the original vision, but this new scorched-earth approach feels like a bridge too far. .
To keep up to date with all the latest opinions and comments, sign up for our free weekly Voices Dispatches newsletter. click here
When you create something like a movie, its value extends beyond itself and out into the world, affecting the wider culture in both big and small ways. Choosing to retain or deny this value is tantamount to cultural vandalism, whatever the reasons. When those reasons are so obviously profit-oriented, vandalism can seem much more excessive and destructive.
It is not new to say that “capitalism destroys creativity”; any freshman art student will tell you that. But the acceleration of this destruction, and the widening of its scale, is something new and very worrying. We consume art and entertainment every day, but refuse to treat it like the vital commodity that it is, viewing it instead as a frivolous enterprise in which we graciously allow creatives to indulge.
I’m not saying that scrapping a Batman spinoff that probably isn’t even that good is the 21st century’s answer to the vanity bonfire, but it’s definitely something to be wary of. I hope this whole saga isn’t indicative of how we’ll treat art in the future, but in the meantime, I’ll continue to store my DVDs just in case.