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Brendan Fraser says axed 'Batgirl' movie was a blockbuster 'stripped down to the essentials'

Fraser was slated to enter the DC Universe as the blazing villain known as "Firefly."

By Josh Weiss
Brendan Fraser and Batgirl Vol. 1: Beyond Burnside (Rebirth)

Over the summer, Warner Bros. Discovery (acting on orders from the conglomerate's new and cost-conscious CEO, David Zaslav), made the unexpected decision to indefinitely shelve its live-action Batgirl film, which had been slated for an exclusive streaming release on HBO Max in late 2022.

Written by Christina Hodson (Birds of Prey) and co-directed by the duo of Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah (Ms. Marvel), the feature was headlined by Leslie Grace as Barbara Gordon/Batgirl and featured an all-star supporting cast of Brendan Fraser and Gotham City veterans Michael Keaton, and J.K. Simmons. Recently speaking with Variety about his big Hollywood comeback, Fraser — who was supposed to play the villainous role of Garfield Lynns, aka Firefly — described the cancelation as "tragic."

“It doesn’t engender trust among filmmakers and the studio," he added. "Leslie Grace was fantastic. She’s a dynamo, just a spot-on performer. Everything that we shot was real and exciting and just the antithesis of doing a straightforward digital all green screen thing. They ran firetrucks around downtown Glasgow at 3 in the morning and they had flamethrowers. It was a big-budget movie, but one that was just stripped down to the essentials."

It was reported that Warner Bros. Pictures held "funeral screenings" on the Burbank lot for the cast and crew. Fraser, however, was not among them. “I don’t eat half baked cake,” he said, going on to praise the work of El Arbi and Fallah. “Everything that Adil and Bilall shot felt real and exciting."

Darren Aronofksy, who directed Fraser in The Whale (an upcoming drama about a 600-pound man hoping to reconnect with his daughter that has generated plenty of awards season buzz), also voiced his disappointment with the Batgirl news. Aronofksy knows exactly what it's like, having suffered the cancelation of his own Batman project (an R-rated take on the Year One comic) in the early 2000s just before Christopher Nolan rebooted the Caped Crusader. "I’m sad when movies don’t get out there," admitted the filmmaker.

In other news, Fraser is down to reprise the swashbuckling role of Rick O'Connell in a fourth Mummy film if the proper script came along. “I don’t know how it would work,” he told Variety. “But I’d be open to it if someone came up with the right conceit.” Stephen Sommers, who wrote and directed The Mummy and The Mummy Returns, explained that he cast Fraser because the actor "could throw a punch and take a punch and he had a great sense of humor. You really like the guy. He never comes across as cocky or arrogant.”

Looking for some sci-fi adventure? Check out Battlestar Galactica, Heroes, Warehouse 13, Eureka, SYFY's Resident Alien, Sliders, Intergalactic and more on Peacock now.