Who are Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah? Moroccan-Belgian directors behind the new Batgirl film

The duo, who directed Will Smith in 2020's 'Bad Boys for Life', will also helm the upcoming 'Ms Marvel' series on Disney+

Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah, directors of the hit 2020 film 'Bad Boys for Life', have been tapped to helm a new Batgirl movie. Getty Images
Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah, directors of the hit 2020 film 'Bad Boys for Life', have been tapped to helm a new Batgirl movie. Getty Images

When renowned producer Jerry Bruckheimer tapped Belgian-Moroccan directing duo Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah to helm the 2020 reboot of the hit Bad Boys franchise, the pair were virtually unknown outside of their home country.

But since the action comedy Bad Boys for Life, which reunited Will Smith and Martin Lawrence as two bumbling detectives, became a massive success – it grossed more than $424.6 million globally against a production budget of $90 million – the duo have been building their impressive resume in high-stakes Hollywood.

In 2020, Disney+ named the pair, popularly known as Adil and Bilall, as directors of Ms Marvel, its coming series based on Marvel’s first Muslim character, set to premiere later this year.

And now, the directors have upped the ante, signing on to helm their first big-budget superhero film with a Batgirl movie.

Warner Bros has announced it is reviving the project, based on the DC Comics character, whose last big film appearance was via Alicia Silverstone in Joel Schumacher’s 1997 movie Batman & Robin.

The project has been stalled since 2018, when Joss Whedon (The Avengers, Justice League) stepped down as writer and director saying he couldn’t come up with a worthy story.

The Hollywood Reporter, which first reported on the duo's appointment on Wednesday, said the film is set to release on HBO Max, with Christina Hodson, writer of the 2018 Transformers film Bumblebee, on scriptwriting duty.

“With Batgirl, we hope to take the audience on a fun ride and see a different side of Gotham. Christina’s script is crackling with spirit. Adil and Bilall have an excited and joyous energy, which is infectious, making them the perfect filmmakers for this Batproject. And I’m just psyched I get to be part of the DC universe, which is super cool,” Kristin Burr, the producer of the project, told The Hollywood Reporter.

While the Batgirl character has had various iterations in DC Comics, first introduced in 1961 as Bette Kane, the most well-known version is Barbara Gordon, who debuted in 1967 as the daughter of James Gordon, the police commissioner of the fictional Gotham City.

Yvonne Craig played the character in the Batman series in 1960s, which ran for three seasons.

Yvonne Craig as Batgirl in the Batman TV series which ran in the 1960s. Getty Images
Yvonne Craig as Batgirl in the 'Batman' TV series which ran in the 1960s. Getty Images

El Arbi, 32, and Fallah, 35, are the sons of Moroccan immigrants and first met at an art school in Belgium where they began collaborating on film projects as students.

Their debut feature, Image, a film about a reporter who makes a documentary about Moroccan immigrants in Brussels, was released in 2014. But it was their 2015 film Black, a crime drama influenced by Romeo and Juliet, that would put them on the map.

Premiering at the Toronto International Film Festival, the film won the Discovery award as well as rave reviews, with Variety saying then it had “the potential to launch the careers of its young directors and cast”.

The film also caught the attention of producer Bruckheimer, who later tapped the pair for Bad Boys for Life.

El Arbi and Fallah, who also directed the pilot and second episode of the hit Showtime crime series Snowfall, are attached to the reboot of Beverly Hills Cop franchise, the action film starring Eddie Murphy, which first premiered in 1984.

In the fourth film, which is set for a Netflix release, Murphy will return as street-smart cop Axel Foley.

The duo’s other film Rebel, about a Moroccan boy growing up in a tough Brussels neighbourhood, who searches for his identity following his father’s death, is currently in post-production.

Updated: May 20, 2021 04:37 PM

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