Who should replace Whedon? Here are picks for the new Batgirl director.
Joss Whedon is officially stepping down as the writer and director of DC's live-action Batgirl movie. The development marks the latest major changeup in creative personnel working on the DC cinematic universe, now that Walter Hamada (The Conjuring franchise) has taken over as President of DC Films in the aftermath of Justice League's critical and commercial disappointment last fall.
Whedon, of course, (in)famously oversaw the reshoots for Justice League that resulted in an extensive revamp of Zack Snyder's original cut for the film - the followup to his own previous DC Comics adaptations, Man of Steel and Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. The first rumblings that Whedon was stepping down as Batgirl's director came shortly after Justice League hit theaters last November, but the rumor was swiftly denied at the time. Now, however, the news is official.
Whedon confirmed his departure from Batgirl with the following statement, which he issued exclusively to THR:
“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 [DC president Geoff Johns and Warners Picture Group president Toby Emmerich] and everyone who was so welcoming when I arrived, and so understanding when I… uh, is there a sexier word for ‘failed’?”
THR's sources are reporting that Whedon spent a year trying to "crack the code" for a live-action Batgirl movie before he stepped down. Over that same period of time, the Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator and Avengers filmmaker found himself at the epicenter of controversy over not only his role in the widely-criticized Justice League reshoots, but even his personal life in the wake of revelations by his now ex-wife about his extramarital affairs.
Whedon's scrapped Wonder Woman movie script leaked online last year and didn't do the filmmaker any favors either, especially when Wonder Woman hit theaters shortly thereafter and became a runaway success. This prompted more and more fans to call for Whedon to step down and allow a woman to bring Barbara Gordon to life on the big screen; cries that only grew in volume when Justice League was released. For these reasons, Whedon's departure from Batgirl comes as less of a surprise and more the inevitable outcome to the situation.
The call for greater inclusiveness and authenticity behind the camera has only grown louder in the aftermath of this weekend's superhero movie smash hit Black Panther, which features several women in key creative positions, along with a black cowriter/director in Ryan Coogler. A separate report similarly confirms that WB and DC are seeking a female director to oversee the Batgirl movie instead, as part of the studios' ongoing efforts to keep up with the times in that respect. It was reported earlier this week that Batgirl is still a priority for DC Films too, so don't be surprised if word about Whedon's potential replacement pops up sooner than later.
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