March 2017 marked the 20th anniversary of the premiere of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, and as celebrations for Buffy and her pop culture impact continue, we have learned a stunning bit of news about the show’s creator: Joss Whedon is reportedly nearing a deal to write, direct, and produce Batgirl for Warner Bros. Pictures as part of the DC Extended Universe. This will be the first ever solo movie about Batgirl, who was last portrayed in a live action feature film by Alicia Silverstone in 1997’s Batman and Robin. Whedon will be making the jump to the DCEU after writing and directing The Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron for Marvel Studios.
Batgirl is one of the greatest superheroines in DC Comics. While a few other notable heroines have donned Batgirl’s cape and cowl, the most famous Batgirl – and the one Whedon will be adapting in his film – is Barbara Gordon. The daughter of Gotham City Police Commissioner James Gordon, Barbara is a genius-level intellect with an eidetic memory. She was inspired by the example of Batman to also fight crime, and she has long been a key member of the extended “Batman Family” of Gotham-based crime fighters. Barbara is also, unfortunately, famous for being one of the Joker’s most prominent victims. In Alan Moore and Brian Bolland’s seminal graphic novel “The Killing Joke,” the Joker shoots Barbara in the spine and paralyzes her.
Barbara recovered and went on to assume a pivotal new role in DC Comics for nearly two decades: Oracle, a one-woman superhero information network. As Oracle, Barbara became part of the Birds of Prey and provided support to the Justice League until the DC Universe was rebooted in 2011. In the New 52 continuity penned by Gail Simone, Barbara miraculously healed from her paralysis and once again resumed her crime fighting career as Batgirl. In 2015, writers Brenden Fletcher, Cameron Stewart and artist Babs Tarr shed the darkness and angst surrounding Batgirl and revamped her into her current form: a cool, Millennial college student adept at social media who patrols Gotham’s trendy Burnside neighborhood. The current DC Rebirth Batgirl comics written by Hope Larson added “world traveling superhero” to Batgirl’s resume.
Batgirl is one of several feature films planned that will be set in Batman’s expansive corner of the DCEU, including The Batman starring Ben Affleck and directed by Matt Reeves (War For The Planet of the Apes), Nightwing directed by Chris McKay (The LEGO Batman Movie), Gotham City Sirens starring Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn and directed by David Ayer (Suicide Squad), and Birds of Prey, with Christina Hodson (Bumblebee) scripting.
Details about Whedon’s plan for Batgirl are scarce, besides reports that the film will be part of the DCEU and will include “other characters from the world of Gotham.” There’s talk that Whedon’s film will draw from the New 52 era comics rather than the current post-DC Rebirth incarnation of the character set in the Burnside area of Gotham. Regardless, with Whedon scripting, his trademark witty banter and a lighter tone would come to play, helping differentiate Batgirl from The Batman or even Nightwing.
Batgirl’s ties to Batman and the DC Universe run deep. As for what other characters from the DCEU may appear in Batgirl – besides the no-brainer, her father Jim Gordon (played by J.K. Simmons) – let’s explore some possibilities.
It seems highly improbable that the Batman wouldn’t appear in Batgirl – at the very least in a cameo role. Whether or not Batgirl will be an origin story, her entire crime fighting persona is inextricably linked to Batman, and Bruce Wayne is the lynchpin character of the DCEU. He appeared in Suicide Squad to cement his ties to several of those characters, so it only makes sense Ben Affleck’s Dark Knight also makes his presence felt in Batgirl. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean he must be a core character: in order to truly allow Batgirl to spread her wings in her own movie, perhaps less Batman would be more.
If the rumors that Batgirl will be based on The New 52 era comics prove accurate, then Barbara would be resuming her Batgirl career after somehow overcoming paralysis. This would mean “The Killing Joke” happened in the DCEU’s continuity and is part of Batgirl and Affleck’s older Batman’s history, like the deceased Robin whose uniform hangs in the Batcave.
Maybe a better suggestion than Batman appearing outright: Alfred could perform the duties of being Barbara’s ties to Bruce Wayne in the film. Jeremy Iron’s acerbic butler was one of the highlights of Batman V Superman, and Irons’ Alfred knows where all the bodies are buried, so to speak. Alfred would provide some prickly banter with Barbara, and he could be the prime source of exposition for Batgirl’s backstory.
Dick Grayson and Barbara Gordon go way back. Batgirl and Robin were fighting crime together even without Batman in the comics during the Bronze Age. Barbara and Dick have been partners, best friends, and lovers; Barbara once famously identified Grayson just by the shape of his rear end. An appearance by Nightwing in Batgirl would depend on a few factors: neither films have set release dates nor have even made any casting announcements. If Batgirl beats Nightwing to theaters, would it make sense to debut Nightwing in a Batgirl movie? (Unless Nightwing and/or Batgirl end up making an appearance in The Batman before embarking on their own solo features). Regardless of the logistics, fans would thrill to see Batgirl and Nightwing swinging across Gotham’s rooftops together.
Taking advantage of the DCEU shared universe, Batgirl could also help set up the planned Birds of Prey movie and debut Black Canary in some capacity. Dinah Lance has been a long time crime-fighting partner of Barbara Gordon. In recent comics, Dinah also fronted her own rock band that toured the country, starting in Barbara’s neighborhood of Burnside. Dinah is older and more experienced than Barbara and can occasionally be a tough mentor figure. This might be a cool dynamic to explore as it was in the comics, where Dinah temporarily ended up roommates with Barbara.
The Penguin and Barbara Gordon have been at odds ever since Penguin kidnapped and tried to marry Barbara in her very first appearance on the 1960’s Batman TV show. Batgirl would need a major league Batman villain, but it seems like iconic bad girls like Catwoman, Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy are earmarked for Gotham City Sirens. The Penguin is a big name Batman villain who has yet to make a DCEU appearance and has a history of animosity with Batgirl. The Penguin hasn’t been in a live action movie since Danny DeVito portrayed him in 1992’s Batman Returns, but a younger version of the villain (like the Penguin played by Robin Lord Taylor in Gotham) might be a more fitting interpretation for Batgirl to go up against, rather than the rotund crime boss the comics normally portray him as. The Batgirl comics currently penned by Hope Larson just introduced E. Cobblepot, the Penguin’s college-aged son, as a love interest/enemy for Batgirl. Why not have two Cobblepots in the Batgirl movie?
STEPHANIE BROWN / CASSANDRA CAIN
Though Barbara Gordon, as the name general audiences are most familiar with, will be Batgirl in the DCEU, a lot of goodwill with long time DC Comics fans can be garnered with some good old fashioned fan service: introducing Stephanie Brown and/or Cassandra Cain in Batgirl. Both Stephanie and Cassandra had popular runs as Batgirl in the comics, and both recently served as part of Batman’s new team led by Batwoman in Detective Comics. Brown, known as Spoiler, is the daughter of C-list Bat-villain Cluemaster, and Cain, calling herself Orphan, is regarded by many fans as the most formidable hand-to-hand combatant in Gotham. Seeing Stephanie, Cassandra, or both in Batgirl would leave comics fans overjoyed.
Yes, it would be cool to see the members of the Justice League in Batgirl. Wonder Woman would be especially poignant as she and Batgirl are two of the highest profile superheroines in DC Comics – plus it would give Joss Whedon a chance to write and direct Wonder Woman after his efforts to helm a Wonder Woman movie were curtailed a decade ago. However, the presence of those indomitable gods and goddess might be somewhat out of place in a Batgirl movie.
If any League member ought to appear if needed, Cyborg would be ideal to lend Batgirl a hand. Barbara is a genius with computers, but perhaps she might come across a problem beyond even her capabilities. Cyborg, comprised of sentient machine parts from an alien Mother Box and capable of being connected to the entire Internet, would be an awesome guest star to help Batgirl out of a jam. They’re also two of the youngest DCEU superheroes, so they could have plenty to commiserate over.
Batgirl’s comics currently boast a rich and diverse supporting cast for Whedon to draw from, though he may be inclined to create his own new friends, co-workers, and allies for Barbara Gordon. The demands of a shared universe and the opportunities in place for crossover appearances will no doubt see some characters from the DCEU appear in Batgirl. Burnside is now uniquely Barbara Gordon’s neck of the woods, and perhaps Whedon will retain that neighborhood as the home base setting for Batgirl. Regardless, Gotham, the city Batgirl lives in, bears the mark of the Bat, and is part of a greater shared universe. Batgirl finally gets to star in her own movie, but in the DCEU she won’t have to fight evil alone.
Which DC characters do you want to see appear in Batgirl? Sound off in the comments!