So it seems Joss Whedon won’t be taking charge of the Batgirl solo movie after all.
Whedon has walked away from the project saying “I really didn’t have a story”. I’m not sure how you can struggle to formulate a story, especially when you consider the great work Kelley Puckett, Gail Simone and Bryan Q. Miller all have done with the Batgirl mantle in the comics. Hell, you even have The Killing Joke to take from if you want a grittier story. Open your film with the attack on Barbara Gordon, just like The Comedian in Watchmen, then have your story follow on some time later with Barbara suffering from PTSD while trying to come to terms with the attack. You can even do the whole ‘experimental surgery’ angle so you can have her up and about if you want her as an active superhero. But I could sit here and fanboy up a series of fantasy storylines but the fact is, I’m glad Whedon has left the project.
On the back of Patty Jenkins’ excellent Wonder Woman, the DCEU has some credit in the bank with its female superheroes. Now, the DCEU is a mess, despite this, I’m one of those weird people who ENJOYED the botch job that was Justice League. But even I know that there are some big problems, that could be an entire article on its own. I hate the Margot Robbie/David Ayer version of Harley Quinn, so for all the good that Wonder Woman did, there is evidence to suggest that it’s female characters are not invulnerable to being mishandled. And the fact is I do not think Joss Whedon does well with female characters.
“But Buffy!” “Hey, there was Zoe from Firefly!” “I think you’re forgetting Echo!”
This notion that Whedon is a champion of women and a feminist director is very much open for discussion. It’s the visualisation he likes to portray, and in some respects DOES attempt to execute this in some of his filmmaking. But you only have to read the comments by his ex-wife and other women who have worked with him to see there is also a completely different side to the persona he has held for so long.
In terms of his handling of big-screen superheroes, he has objectified and nullified Black Widow and Wonder Woman. Having The Flash fall into Wonder Woman’s cleavage is vintage Whedon and in such poor taste. And don’t get me started on his leaked draft script for Wonder Woman! The idea that he creates strong female characters is also a bit of a falsehood, and with Batgirl we need a movie to reflect the character in the same way as Wonder Woman was portrayed in her solo film.
This does not necessarily mean they need to hire a female director to handle a female character. There are a number of male directors who have shown they can handle female characters without reverting to a teenage boy writing fanfic. At the same time, having a female eye on the script would be a smart move, because as we have seen with Jessica Jones, having female insight into female characters at the creative level can have a positive influence on the final product. It would also help if there were more roles for female producers and executives at the top level. Any male director directing such a film will now come under extra scrutiny, and this might not necessarily be a negative thing.
In a time of #MeToo and #TimesUp, Hollywood is under a microscope. Now is the time for positive changes to the way in which people are treated and the practices going on when creating movies. We need a wide range of positive and diverse characters, directed by people who want to help implement that change and alter the status quo. This, for me, is not Joss Whedon and Batgirl is probably in a better place now that he has left the project.
Who do you think should take the reigns on Batgirl? Am I wrong and is Joss Whedon actually a force for good? Thoughts and GENUINE debate welcome below in the comments.