Batgirl, Racism, and Transphobia

Warner Bros.

In the days following the cancellation of Batgirl, it became more than apparent that racism and transphobia played a role.

Prior to logging offline for Shabbos, I started seeing social media leaking the film’s plot and test screening reviews. As a transgender woman let alone film/TV critic, I couldn’t be more surprised by what I saw. The fact of the matter is I don’t like that my gut instinct was right: racism and transphobia were at play. It might not have looked that way to the executive offices at Warner Bros. Discovery but it’s there when you pull out and see the bigger picture. When you have a Latina lead character and a transgender sidekick, of course, the bigots are going to submit a low test score. This is what they do! I see it every single time that an LGBTQ film comes out. The review bombing starts immediately on IMDb, Letterboxd, and Rotten Tomatoes. Is it surprising that the test screening audience is any different? Probably not.

If Black Adam had the same test scores as Batgirl, why didn’t Warner Bros. pull the plug on that film? What about Shazam! Fury of the Gods? Both films had similar test scores. Oh, right–they already invested a lot of money into the film’s marketing campaign. Regardless, the recent decisions are going to make it hard for anyone to want to work with Warner Bros. in the near future? Based on recent comments from David Zaslav, it wouldn’t surprise me if Clint Eastwood decides to end his long-term relationship with the studio. Christopher Nolan was already upset with how the previous leadership treated Tenet and also decided to leave his longtime home. Where Zaslav went on a listening tour and planned to write the wrongs, he certainly made a major wrong in the process!

It hurts the most to see a major studio deciding to cancel a film with prominent transgender representation. This is also the same studio that is still in business with transphobic author J.K. Rowling. How are transgender people supposed to see themselves on screen when bigots are submitting low test scores? Bigots were never going to be in the film’s demographic. Why is it that they were even allowed into the audience to begin with? The transgender community deserves better. How are you going to inspire transgender youth when you send a message that our stories are not as important than money from bigots? This is the message I’m getting in the film’s cancellation. Frankly, it’s sickening and disheartening.

Honestly, last week’s activities make it very hard to ever get excited for DC movies ever again. That DC Films needs to get their house in order isn’t enough at the moment. The DC fandom is a serious turnoff at the moment, what with all the harassment. I was over-generous in my Wonder Woman 1984 review because I didn’t want to receive death threats again. But like so many others right now, I have zero interest in watching The Flash. Moreover, I have no plans to watch Lady Gaga in the sequel to the film that gave me no shortage of harassment and death threats following a negative review. The PTSD is real.

To say that Batgirl was “irredeemable” is to play straight into the hands of racists and transphobes. The film’s cancellation continues to be a bad look for the studio as more leaks begin to come out. Hate has no home here.

Please subscribe to Solzy at the Movies on Substack.

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.