HBO Max Batgirl costume receives mixed reactions

Leslie Grace’s Batgirl costume for the HBO Max film is revealed, but receives mixed reactions, despite being comic accurate.

The upcoming Batgirl HBO Max Original movie has finally revealed the costume Leslie Grace (In The Heights) will be wearing. But it has drawn both praises and rants from fans of the character.

The Batgirl costume Leslie Grace will sport in the HBO Max film is revealed, with mixed fan reactions. (Images: DC Entertainment/HBO Max)

The success of HBO Max’s Peacemaker has rekindled the interest of DCEU fans looking forward to the new direction the superhero multiverse will be taking. Fans have raved about the comic accurate costumes of both Peacemaker and Vigilante in the James Gunn-directed show.

But while the costume revealed for Leslie Grace is comic accurate, there are notable concerns regarding the choice of using the Burnside design. Check out the details revealed so far below.

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The first look at the Batgirl costume

The first official photo of the Batgirl costume was released this January by DC Entertainment and HBO Max. Leslie Grace herself has shared the glamour shot on social media such as her Twitter feed. The young actress also quotes from the comic book Batgirl Year One:

I use their expectations against them. That will be their weakness. Not mine. Let them all underestimate me… And when their guard is down, and their pride is rising, let me kick their butts.

The line is spoken by Barbara after her trial by fire, being called by circumstances to become a hero and adopting the Batgirl persona.

A later behind-the-scenes picture of the costume during filming provides a more subdued look. It also reveals that it will have a pair of goggles as part of its ensemble:

In a September 2021 interview with Entertainment Tonight, the actress shared her first experience with costume fittings for the Batgirl role:

No, I'm dying! They haven't told me anything, I honestly cannot leak anything, even if I knew. But I have no idea! I think probably until I head off, I won't know much, but I'm dying to know what that outfit looks like. I know that I'm going to be fitting, like, 35 different fittings for this costume.

The actress also describes how her take on the character will be and Barbara Gordon’s relationship with her father, Police Commissioner James Gordon (to be portrayed by J.K. Simmons, reprising his role from the Justice League film):

She's someone who's been underestimated by even her own dad and being the youngest kid, sometimes you're insulated from all of the tough stuff of life and she's so eager to prove to herself and to everybody else that there's some things that she can handle.

The Burnside costume is comic accurate, BUT…

While some fans have reacted positively to the reveal of Leslie Grace’s Batgirl costume, it has received an equal number of negative reactions. In the same tweet that the actress posted, fans have expressed their disappointment, comparing it to the lower budget style costumes on the CW shows:

There are even those who find the much earlier 2002 Batgirl costume from the short-lived Birds of Prey TV series (worn by Dina Meyer, who played Barbara Gordon aka Oracle) to look better:

To its credit, the design is comic accurate. It is nearly a perfect recreation of what is referred to as the Burnside costume which debuted in Batgirl Volume 4, Number 35 back in 2014. The story centered on Barbara Gordon moving to the preppy and upper class Burnside neighborhood of Gotham. The costume lasted for a few years, until 2018’s Batgirl Volume 5, Number 27 when Barbara left Burnside and used a more traditional Batgirl costume.

The HBO Max costume is heavily based on the teenage Barbara Gordon/Batgirl 2014 "Burnside" design.

However, there are caveats to the Burnside design translated into live action for the HBO Max film. For one, it is noticeably lacking in functionality. It does not appear to offer much in the way of protection. Unless Batgirl is wearing some form of Kevlar undergarments, firearms are going to be a problem.

Visually, it also does not appear to fit the grittier and darker Gotham of the DCEU. If it is still based on the Zack Snyder version of Gotham shown in Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) and Justice League (2017), it is too bright with its purple hues.

More than that, the Burnside costume was designed with a much younger teenaged Barbara Gordon in mind. But the 27-year old Leslie Grace wearing the same costume seems awkward to look at. There are of course arguments that superhero costumes look awkward by simply being far from the norms. However, compared to the costumes worn by other live action actresses such as Batwoman’s Ruby Rose and Javicia Leslie, the differences are quite apparent.

Only the first costume?

While the revealed costume has received mixed reactions, it should be noted that this might not be the only Batgirl costume in the course of the film.

It is probable that this Batgirl costume is only the costume Barbara wears during a costume party. This would be consistent with the events that occur in Batgirl Year One, where Barbara’s call to action comes accidentally by simply being in the right place at the right time.

Some fans have commented that the Batwoman costume from the CW show looks better than the HBO Max Batgirl suit.

According to some rumors regarding the plot, Bruce Wayne will be serving as Batgirl’s mentor. As Michael Keaton has been cast to play Bruce Wayne/Batman in the HBO Max exclusive (continuing his role from the upcoming The Flash film), this would be more along the lines of Bruce Wayne’s role in Batman Beyond guiding the younger hero taking on the mantle of the Bat (which was Terry McGinnis, his genetic son, in the animated series). Given this, it would likely lead to the older Batman giving Barbara a new costume at some point in the film after the heroine proves herself, which echoes how the MCU handled the mentorship between Tony Stark and Peter Parker.

As Batgirl’s villain is going to be pyromaniac and arsonist Firefly (Brendan Fraser), a more protective suit with Nomex and Kevlar materials. If so, then the later costume will probably be closer to the concept art revealed at DC Fandome 2021 during the Batgirl panel.

Batgirl is scheduled for release on HBO Max sometime in 2022, with an exact date to be determined.

Geoff Borgonia
Geoffrey "Borgy" Borgonia is a veteran writer, artist, journalist, gamer, and entrepreneur based in the Philippines. When not contributing to some of the top pop culture sites on the planet, he spends the rest of his time running his business, practicing martial arts, working on and developing books, comics, and games. In his man-cave, his only luxury is sleep. Borgy on Linkedin.
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