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Throughout history, there has been no shortage of Batman adaptations: movies, TV shows, animated series. The Caped Crusaders, and the villains who rankle them, fill screens every year. It is exaggerated. But this week a new kind of Batman movie was released, and while it might be one of the best takes on the Bat in years, you may never get the chance to see it.
On September 13, the village prankster made its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival. Billed as “an illegal comic book movie,” the film turns the story of one of the Bat’s most notorious villains into a trans coming-of-age story. However, after its midnight showing, the film was pulled of the TIFF alignment on “rights issues.” One of the most exciting and queer Batman-related stories to come out in years is now a disappearing act.
What exactly happened remains unclear. Warner Bros. Discovery, which owns the rights to DC Comics, has not yet responded to WIRED’s request for comment, but Variety reported on Wednesday that “it appears the studio may have issued a cease and desist to block the three additional showings of the film at TIFF.” On Thursday, Vera Drew, the film’s writer/director/star, posted a statement on Twitter saying she received an “angry letter” (not a cease and desist) and added that after receiving the letter she told TIFF and they “We agreed to premiere as planned while lowering our subsequent projections to mitigate potential setbacks.” She also noted that the film was looking for a distribution partner and would be showing at other festivals soon.
“I don’t respond well to harassment or pressure from faceless institutions. It just emboldened me and what I was saying with this movie,” she said. Variety. “We are looking for buyers and distribution partners who will protect us and make this film accessible to trans people and their families everywhere.”
In that, Drew is right, and not just because he wants his movie to end up somewhere besides the garbage. Although not inherently fanfiction, a movie like the village prankster it does what many fanfics do: it inserts people, and/or their lived experiences or aspirations, into narratives where they might not otherwise exist. Drew has said that the film is a reflection of his own transition and mental health issues, and while the film, a DIY hodgepodge of green screen acting, 8-bit animated scenes, and home sets, would never be mistaken for anything in the DCEU. , it’s an expression of what it’s like when you’re queer and trying to see yourself in that franchise.