What’s Next For The Post-Whedon Batgirl Film?

After the announced departure of Joss Whedon from the Batgirl film that sent shock waves throughout the DCEU and Twitterverse, the director has taken the time to talk about why he left the film and his hopes for its future. The movie’s development process remains uncertain as new names emerge that might become attached to the film in the hopes of keeping the movie alive.

Story issues for Whedon

Earlier this week, DC Comics News wrote an article about Joss Whedon’s departure from the Batgirl film and his reasons for leaving before the movie ever really got off the ground. In an exclusive interview with The Hollywood Reporter, the creator revealed his shortcomings when it came time to finding the right story. He stated:

Batgirl is such an exciting project, and Warners/DC such collaborative and supportive partners, that it took me months to realize I really didn’t have a story. I’m grateful to Geoff (Johns) and Toby (Emmerich) and everyone who was so welcoming when I arrived, and so understanding when I…uh, is there a sexier word for ‘failed’?”

It was only around this time last year that Whedon was announced to both write and direct Batgirl. To many fans, the announcement was met with approval for the most part based on his work on Buffy The Vampire Slayer (another teenage girl character, similar to Batgirl) and Avengers (the standard for team-based superhero movies).

So far things were good for Whedon. According to Comicbook.com, he had a story idea based on some classic material from a Batgirl story titled “The Million Dollar Debut Of Batgirl”. If you’re unfamiliar with that story, it might have to do with the fact that the story was from the 1960’s, is a very short story, and really isn’t considered among Batgirl’s greatest story lines.

In that story, Barbara Gordon (Batgirl) is a librarian and Commissioner James Gordon’s daughter, who dons the cowl in order apprehend Killer Moth, who was targeting Bruce Wayne (Batman). Neither Batgirl nor Killer Moth know that Bruce Wayne is Batman.

And that’s about it for the plot. As mentioned before, it’s pretty short with Whedon having issues expanding the story and making it one that would resonate with audiences today.

Will we see women behind the camera for Batgirl?

Shortly after the Whedon announcement, notable author Roxane Gay took to Twitter and reached out to DC to offer her services for a Batgirl screenplay. Roxane Gay has written for Marvel Comics as well being an author of several books titled Bed Feminist, Hunger, and Difficult Women. 

That tweet quickly got the attention of Michelle Wells, VP of Warner Bros Entertainment, who tweeted back:

We’ll have to wait and see what comes out of this Twitter conversation but if that wasn’t enough, further down the same thread, actress Madeline Brewer (known for her work on Orange Is The New Black and Handmaiden’s Tale) had this to say:

And of course, let us not forget Lindsey Lohan’s ongoing campaign for the role.

We need to talk about Batgirl’s future.

It is entirely possible that the movie might get canceled all together and that is a very scary idea to a lot of DC fans (myself included). Graeme McMillan over at The Hollywood Reporter just wrote an article about the film’s future:

“Bearing that in mind, it’s certainly possible that Warner Bros. and DC might quietly put the project back on the shelf for now. There are other reasons that would make sense, beyond Whedon’s absence: Post-Justice League, Warners’ DC plans appear to be in some level of flux, with a number of projects in a Schrodinger’s Cat-esque state of existence, simultaneously in development and non-existent, depending on whom you speak to. Additionally, many of those projects are tied in with the same Batman side of the DC Universe as Batgirl, whether it’s multiple Joker or Harley Quinn features, Matt Reeves’ Batman or Chris McKay’s Nightwing. With this amount of focus on Gotham City, would it be that much of a problem if Batgirl simply…went away?” Graeme McMillan, THR, 02/23/2018

Indeed, the number of movies set in Gotham City that include the Bat-family of characters is substantial as of now. It looks very difficult to imagine another movie set in this setting considering that the DC universe is very expansive, with stories set in space, known multiple Earths, and the various realms of the gods, both old and new. McMillan continues:

“While it’s true that there may be too many Bat-projects in development, the solution would surely be to limit the number of Joker and Harley Quinn movies, rather than dropping the movie that offers something different to the nascent DC cinematic universe and stands out as the most obvious candidate to grow that brand’s audience in the wake of the success of Wonder Woman last year. In addition to being a female-fronted property, Batgirl — by the very nature of the character’s roots — offers DC the opportunity for its own Spider-Man, in terms of presenting a teenage lead who can stand in contrast to the older, more pessimistic characters who’ve already appeared onscreen.” Graeme McMillan, THR, 02/23/2018

Over at Variety, writer Owen Gleiberman makes the case for the necessity of, not only the development of the film, but for the inclusion of women in its development. He writes:

The question at the heart of any “Batgirl” movie, at least if it’s going to be more than just another overcooked action cog in the DC Universe, needs to be: Who — really — is Batgirl? What drives her, what possesses her, what makes her tick? […]Because let’s not forget that that’s what great comic-book characters do. In saving the world, they say something about us. Yes, a male filmmaker could direct “Batgirl” and, theoretically, work on that level of drama and understanding. But isn’t this one case where it simply makes sense to say that a woman filmmaker has the potential to bring something bold and new and experiential to the equation? Owen Gleiberman, Variety, 02/23/2018

But who would direct Batgirl?

Of course there are the obvious choices: Kathryn Bigelow and Patty Jenkins (right after she’s finished with Wonder Woman 2) but those choices run the risk of being a bit myopic. It would be great for the DC faithful and casual audiences to consider other choices (even just for the sake of arguing).

Some of the names being thrown around by Gleiberman include Michelle MacLaren (Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones), Ava DuVernay (A Wrinkle In Time), Dee Rees (Mudbound, Selma), and Gleiberman’s personal choice, Greta Gerwig (Lady Bird). These are all great names but as to who is available and who would even be interested in directing is no where near to being figured out.

Let’s just hope that someone will be sitting in a director’s chair for Batgirl.

Image courtesy of IGN Africa


Joseph Marcas

Joseph is a contributor to DC Comics News and hopes to someday become a superhero. He enjoys writing, politics, and everything between ballet and monster truck rallies.