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Joss Whedon & Batgirl: Warner Bros. Needs Him More Than He Needs Them

Earlier today, Variety exclusively reported that Joss Whedon is nearing a deal to write, direct, and produce an untitled Batgirl movie that is being described as both standalone and part of the DC Extended Universe, with various other characters from the world of Gotham expected to appear. Further details will undoubtedly be in the offing in the coming days, and all of us cynical nerds will make damn sure people remember that Whedon was once hired to write a Wonder Woman movie that ended up not happening. So, wait and see and all that.

But in the here and now surely this news warrants applause. Joss Whedon is finally back to making comic book movies! And it’s a female-led movie this time! The man who created Buffy Summers is now going to bring a live-action Barbara Gordon to the big screen, probably drawing heavily from the Buffy-esque run by Gail Simone in the New 52 Batgirl! Yay…?

I add the question mark because this news is just, well, odd. Actors have jumped ship from Marvel to DC or DC to Marvel before, but would Whedon be the first director to do so since Bryan Singer bolted from the X-Men for Superman Returns? Plus, in the immediate aftermath of the 2015 release of Age of Ultron, which more or less broke Whedon, he was quoted as saying:

“I’ve wanted to make superhero movies since I knew that there were superheroes and that there were movies, And for a long time I didn’t think that was going to happen. And then it did…For like, five years. But I think having done that and having fulfilled that dream, hopefully people will like the movie and think it was a good idea to fulfill that dream. I have to do something else. Have another dream.”

Then late that year at Paleyfest, he said, “”I’m looking to do is something new. Really something I haven’t done before. The last five years I haven’t created a universe.”

Batgirl isn’t something new. At first glance, a Joss Whedon Batgirl would likely just be Buffy with more spandex and a bigger budget, and that could be totally rad. But does Whedon really need this? Surely, it’s Warner Bros. which needs him, not the other way around, right?

This could be a significant test of WB’s once chest-beating claim to be building its DC Extended Universe as a friendly place for filmmakers and not simply a mecca for hired guns to point and shoot their cameras and get the hell out of the way when the producers want to take over. After all, Whedon’s post-Age of Ultron exhaustion was not just due to the mind-boggling logistics of finishing the expansive film but also the continued battles he had with the then Ike Perlmutter-run Marvel Studios (Kevin Feige is singularly in charge now). With Batgirl, Whedon might finally be allowed to make the exact comic book movie he wants, although ask Suicide Squad’s David Ayer how well that worked out for him.

Of course, there’s also the possibility that Whedon inadvertently burned some bridges with his ongoing frankness about his Age of Ultron and Agents of SHIELD tensions with Marvel Studios, or that he has become typecast as a director due to the Avengers and whatever new, non-comic book thing he might have wanted to make simply wasn’t there for him, money wise. Perhaps Batgirl is something he has to do because the number of opened doors available to him after Ultron were far smaller than we’d guess. However, I struggle to believe that Whedon couldn’t go to Netflix’s headquarters tomorrow and walk out of there an hour later with a 10-episode order for a new TV show. It would astonish me if Batgirl is something he has to do, career-wise. As such, the fact that he apparently wants to do it makes me excited for this because it would mean we’ll be getting a true, unfiltered Joss Whedon Batgirl movie, not some corporate-noted-to-death hack job.

Then again, Batman v Superman, for better or worse, is quite clearly an 100% authentic Zack Snyder movie. So, you know, these things don’t always work out. However, I trust in Joss. What about you? What do you think about the prospect of a Whedon-directed Batgirl movie?

Source: Variety


  1. Well he’s done several movies and shows already, about little white girls kicking ass, so I totally trust him with his project, no matter who stars in it. But . I would dearly love it if he changed it up, not with Barbara Gordon’s Batgirl,, but Cassandra’s Batgirl, because she’s my favorite one, (and we could get some Asian female representation, too.) After all, we already have a template for her in Chloe Bennett from Agents of Shield.

    1. To be fair, at last check any of us who have mentioned Barbara Gordon have simply been making our own assumptions. The Variety report did not specify that it would absolutely be Barbara. I mean, it probably will be, but it could be Cassandra. Maybe Whedon feels compelled to do what Ghost in the Shell did not in the Asian female representation department. Obviously, remains to be seen. We’re still awaiting confirmation on all of this. Seems like the kind of thing that could easily fall apart before the contracts have been finalized.

  2. I am not sure if his style fits in what the DCEU has done so far, especially since I think that if Whedon has one weakness than that he could use a better sense for staging and framing. Also, while I like the idea theoretically, I am neither thrilled with Warner announcing one project after another without waiting if anything comes to fruition, nor do I like the notion that all of those movies are Bat-centric. I am also starting to wonder if Warner Bros is actually preparing to jump ship from the DCEU and either start a new universe, or throw out a few stand-alone movies. Something about this is very odd…..

    1. On that last point, we are in complete agreement: “this is very odd.” It goes against what Whedon has said about wanting to get back to creating his own characters and fictional universes again. It’s the first director to defect from the MCU over to the DCEU. It’s hiring someone whose signature style and wit is at complete odds with what the DCEU has become known for. It comes after WB’s CinemaCon presentation, where there was no such announcement about Whedon. It has been reported with scant details by Variety, and at last check remains unconfirmed (I haven’t checked the involved parties’ social media accounts or anything like that, although didn’t Whedon quit Twitter?). And it’s oddly being described as both standalone and also a part of the DCEU. Presumably, what that really means is it won’t be dependent on any of the other DCEU movies for its existence, i.e., Batgirl won’t show up in Batman’s movie beforehand, but it will be set in the same cinematic universe.

      As for how this fits in with WB’s overall DCEU plans, it seems clear that those plans are in flux right now. We always knew the bullshit release schedule they released a couple of years ago was more wishful thinking than reality, and that if anything went wrong with their first couple of movies everything else would potentially fall away. That’s exactly what’s happened, and we’ve now seen a significant re-organization behind the scenes and a general house-cleaning or mass exodus by directors/writers which has now left WB with absolutely no guaranteed DC movies beyond Wonder Woman and Justice League and (even though it hasn’t actually started filming yet) probably Aquaman. After that, it’s just a bunch of junk projects which may or may not ever happen. Alongside the ones they announced so long ago (Flash, Green Lantern Corps, Shazam, Cyborg) we now have The Batman (which can’t quite get off the ground), Gotham City Sirens (which has become victim to Margot Robbie’s non-stop booked schedule since for a variety of reasons she has become Hollywood’s IT girl), Suicide Squad 2 (which has a writer and nothing else), Justice League Dark, Booster Gold (both of which have attached writers but are probably never truly going to happen, at least not anytime soon) and now possibly Batgirl in some stage of development.

      Meanwhile, Deadpool and Logan have both come along and sort of changed the game, at least in that “we don’t all have to simply be falling over ourselves to copy off Marvel Studios. not everything has to be perfectly connected, y’know. people are sick of it, and just want good movies again.” Sony learned the wrong lesson from all of that, and thought “what the world wants are R-Rated comic book movies!” However, maybe WB is inching toward an acceptance that they just totally suck at this, and pulling back on the DCEU after Justice League and letting everyone go back to sort of playing in their own playground, so to speak, might be best.

      It’s possible, but that Justice League trailer tells me WB is making no apologies for the DCEU, at least not publicly, and are probably too stubborn to actually be thinking of abandoning the DCEU. They just might be loosening up in terms of tone and color palette, though, because a Joss Whedon Batgirl movie certainly wouldn’t look anything like Man of Steele/BvS/Squad/Wonder Woman/Justice League and the jokes would likely feel somewhat more organic and less forced. However, a Joss Whedon Batgirl movie might be their best yet to actually deliver a comic book movie critics will like. Jury’s still out on Wonder Woman, obviously, and James Wan comes to Aquaman with a pretty good resume. Neither compare to Whedon’s track record with this type of material, though.

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