When it was first announced that Michael Keaton would be appearing in this year’s Batgirl movie, it was tough to believe. But now after the casting has not only been confirmed by Warner Bros, but the actor himself has posted shots of himself as Batman from the Batgirl set, there’s no doubt about it — Michael Keaton is playing Batman in Batgirl. But after this week’s announcement that a lot of Warner Bros’ high profile films over the next year were having their release dates pushed back, there are a lot of questions as to why Batgirl isn’t also pushed back and — if it still releases as planned in 2022 — whether or not the movie will make any sense.
Since J.K. Simmons is starring in Batgirl as Commissioner James Gordon — a role he first played in 2017’s Justice League — we know the upcoming film is set in the DCEU, whose Batman is currently played by Ben Affleck. Ever since the presence of Michael Keaton in Batgirl has been made public, it’s been assumed this discrepancy would be explained by The Flash. Both Affleck and Keaton are appearing in the film as their respective versions of Batman. One prevailing theory is that — since the film will undoubtedly feature time travel and DC’s cinematic multiverse — the events of the film would potentially erase Affleck’s Batman from existence and replace him with Keaton’s Dark Knight.
But now, according to the current release schedule, fans are going to be seeing Michael Keaton in Batgirl long before they have a chance to see him in The Flash. This past Wednesday, the news emerged that the release dates for Black Adam, The Flash, Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, DC League of Super Pets, Wonka, and Meg 2: The Trench had all been pushed back. In terms of the DC Comics related films in the above list that were originally meant to release this year, all but Black Adam and DC League of Super Pets have been pushed back to 2023. The latter has been pushed back from May to July, while Black Adam has been delayed from July to October. The only good news is Shazam! Fury of the Gods, originally scheduled for release in June 2023, has been moved up to December 2022.
As Comic Book notes, Batgirl currently doesn’t have a release date, though it’s been widely reported it would release on HBO Max in 2022 — most likely in December. Meanwhile, The Flash has been pushed back to June 23, 2023. So, unless news of a much later Batgirl release date is forthcoming, there will be — at minimum — almost seven months between Michael Keaton showing up in a role he hasn’t played in 30 years, and fans getting an explanation of exactly why that’s the case. If you don’t think that’s a potential problem, imagine if when She-Hulk eventually premieres on Disney+, Mark Ruffalo is nowhere in sight and the Hulk is instead played by Ed Norton. Or Eric Bana. Or Lou Ferrigno. Then imagine the casting change isn’t explained until some time mid-2023. See the problem yet?
There could be a much simpler answer. Unlike all of the films included in Warner Bros’ announcement this week, Batgirl‘s premiere date — though expected in 2022 — hasn’t been set. Warner Bros. may already be planning to release Batgirl after The Flash, but they simply chose to not mention Batgirl. How do you announce a change to a release date, after all, when you haven’t announced the release date you’re going to change? Hopefully, we’ll know soon enough. And when we know, we’ll make sure you know.