After months of simmering rumors, it's official: Joss Whedon is no longer directing Batgirl. The film has been an unclear prospect for a while now; Whedon's involvement in Justice League after Zack Snyder's departure had already pushed back production, and that film's mostly negative response seemed to sour his standing with fans and studio alike.
It's not clear if there is a particular reason why Whedon is leaving Batgirl. The original report suggests he's been struggling to crack the story of the film he himself pitched to to the studio, and the Justice League experience presumably soured the relationship. It also suggests a more feminist slant, with concerns over a white male directing the female-led project. This is particularly potent for Whedon given allegations about his abusive behavior from Kai Cole, his ex-wife; last year, Cole wrote an open letter in response to Whedon being heralded as a progressive feminist filmmaker, despite her experience. After the publication of Cole's letter, many Batgirl fans called for Whedon to be removed from the project. It's possible that Warner Bros. may have chosen to distance themselves from Whedon given these allegations.
Whatever the case for Whedon's departure, Warner Bros. are now looking for a female director to helm the project. Luckily for them, the studio has a number of talented directors to choose from. Presumably, Patty Jenkins is preoccupied with Wonder Woman 2 (2019), but her success could pave the way for another female director to take the lead with Batgirl. Here are the top picks.
Michelle MacLaren has an impressive television résumé, having worked on The X-Files (1993), Breaking Bad (2008), The Walking Dead (2010), Game of Thrones (2011), and Westworld (2016). These diverse shows illustrate that she has a strong sense of pacing, characterization, and drama. In addition to her work as a director, MacLaren has also been an executive producer for both The X-Files and Breaking Bad. For a short time, MacLaren was also linked to Wonder Woman before Patty Jenkins was put in charge. If MacLaren wanted to make the transition from television to the big screen, Batgirl would be an opportune time.
While Jodie Foster is better known for her acting career, she has proven time and time again that she's also a talent behind the camera. From her feature film The Beaver (2011) to television directorial credits for Orange is the New Black (2013) and House of Cards (2013), Foster can handle both serious and comedic material, and often blends the two. Foster also directing an episode of Black Mirror Season 4. In addition to Foster's talents as a director, her household name recognition could help Warner Bros. promote Batgirl and generate some serious buzz for the film.
Ana Lily Amirpour
Ana Lily Amirpour's directorial debut A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014) was part vampire film and part spaghetti Western, all-around masterpiece. Her second film, The Bad Batch (2017) similarly mixed genres - romance, horror, and action - featured an all-star and equally eclectic cast, including Jason Mamoa, Keanu Reeves, and Jim Carrey. Amirpour's films are visually decadent, and her characters and stories are playful and whimsical even as she delves into dark subject matter. She's done nothing on the scale of Batgirl, but clearly has the talent.
Reed Morano is an accomplished cinematographer who has recently transitioned to directing. Her debut film, Meadowland (2015) premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival to strong reviews, but what really made her name was her work on the first three episodes of Hulu's The Handmaid's Tale (2017), which won her the Emmy for "Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series". With Morano's second film, I Think We're Alone Now starring Peter Dinklage and Elle Fanning releasing soon, Batgirl would be primed as an ideal follow-up.
Karyn Kusama, quite simply, tells stories about badass women. There's Girlfight (2000) which stars Michelle Rodriguez as a boxer and Jennifer's Body (2009), featuring Megan Fox as a succubus. Most excitingly, Kusama recently directed The Invitation (2015), one of the best horrors of recent years, as well as a number of episodes of television, including The Man in the High Castle (2015) and Halt and Catch Fire (2014). It's worth noting that Kusama is currently tied to the upcoming film Destroyer; this production could potentially conflict with Batgirl's proposed schedule.