one of the stars of batgirl is talking about the future of the recently shelved superhero movie. Actress and trans activist Ivory Aquino wrote an open letter to the head of Warner Bros. Discovery, David Zaslav, on Twitter following a report on The Hollywood Reporter that “funeral screenings” of the incomplete film were being held on the Warner Bros. lot. before the footage was placed in the studio’s vault – and possibly even destroyed.
“As one of many who have put our hearts into the making of this film, I ask that this measure be reconsidered,” wrote Aquino, referring to the suggestion that Warners could destroy existing footage to secure a tax break on the canceled film. Production. “As much as I’ve tried my best to be strong these past few weeks, I find myself crying, for lack of a better term, out of sadness, and tonight was one of those nights.”
Directed by Belgian collaborators Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah, batgirl starred Leslie Grace as Barbara Gordon, daughter of Gotham City Police Commissioner James Gordon (JK Simmons, reprising her role from Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Justice League) who joins the ranks of Gotham City’s overnight cape crusaders – including Michael Keaton’s vintage Batman – in pursuit of the arsonist villain, Firefly (Brendan Fraser). Aquino played Barbara’s best friend Alysia Yeoh, a transgender bartender from Singapore who made her comic book debut in 2011.
Born in the Philippines, Aquino told People in 2017, she realized she was transgender as a child and transitioned in 2005. After moving to America to major in music, she launched her acting career, delivering acclaimed performances in the ABC miniseries When We Go Up and Netflix city tales. batgirl marked its debut in the DC Extended Universe and promised to be one of the most diverse DC adaptations yet.
Naturally, this diversity has unleashed a vocal minority of comic book fans who regularly object to the so-called “awakes” of popular superheroes. And Aquino directly addressed this predictable reaction in his open letter, writing, “As much as Batgirl has been labeled a wake-up movie, it simply formed that way because of writing that reflects the world we live in.” The actress also revealed her intense personal connection to the story El Arbi and Fallah hoped to tell.
“More than anything, it’s a father-daughter story that comes close to home when my father passed away a year ago, just before I booked this project,” she revealed. “I was hoping this would resonate with other kids around the world, grown and not-so-grown, who hold their parents in the highest esteem and who can see Batgirl as a story of that special bond.” Aquino added that she spoke to Grace the day news broke that the film was being shelved. “[She] I had only words of comfort and support. I don’t dare ask if she spent nights holding back tears like I did because she had to be the face of our Batgirl family and had to put on a brave face as a way of taking care of us the way she gracefully directed our movie. “
What will happen next with batgirl‘s existing footage is a subject of much speculation. The film was in post-production when Zaslav scrapped it, announcing that the studio would do a $90 million tax write-off on the project. In a recent interview with French YouTube channel SKRIPT, El Arbi and Fallah revealed that they no longer have access to any of these materials, which they tried unsuccessfully to record on their cell phones. “[Batgirl] it cannot be released in its current state,” said El Arbi. “There are no visual effects, we still had to shoot some scenes. So if [Warners] I wanted us to release the batgirl film they would need to give us the means to do so; to end it properly with our vision.”
In his letter to Zaslav, Aquino kindly asked him to consider providing filmmakers with these means for batgirl could live to fight another day. “If a month ago there was no marketing budget for batgirl, I’d venture to say this was resolved by the turn of events over the past few weeks,” she noted. “Now more people know about our labor of love and are eager to see the movie. I hope you can read this letter. Consider releasing batgirl. She’s always been an underdog and has nowhere to go but up.”