It has proven to be close to impossible to predict Warner Bros’ future moves when it comes to their growing DC Extended Universe. After announcing an ambitious slate of ten films in 2014, the studio has seemingly decided to change course with their movies in development recently.
While movies like Wonder Woman and Aquaman seem to be coming along well, there are still projects like The Flash, which has had several false starts and lost multiple directors. To add to the uncertainty, WB has announced new films based on titles that most didn’t see coming, such as Gotham City Sirens, Nightwing, and Justice League Dark. Those projects already have big name directors attached to them in David Ayer, Chris McKay, and Doug Liman respectively, while they have also been courting Mel Gibson for several months to direct Suicide Squad 2. These hires exemplify Warner Bros’ recent ambitious approach to making comic book movies and their intention to make quality films in the future is clear.
Just when it seemed that things couldn’t get in wilder in the DCEU, Variety reported this morning that The Avengers director Joss Whedon is in negotiations to helm a solo Batgirl film. Here is what they had to say:
Whedon is nearing a deal to write, direct, and produce an untitled Batgirl pic for Warner Bros. as part of its DC Extended Universe.
No other producers are currently attached. Toby Emmerich, president and chief content officer of Warner Bros. Pictures Group is overseeing with Jon Berg and Geoff Johns. The new project originated in the past month.
This development is unexpected, especially since many anticipated Batgirl’s character being integral to Gotham City Sirens, while the participation of Whedon is probably the biggest overall shocker. However, it has been known that Whedon has been flirting with the DC universe, both on the big and small screen in the past year. This new project is as shocking as the announcement of McKay being tapped to direct a Nightwing solo film last month, however it seems reasonable that if Dick Grayson is getting a solo film, so should Barbara Gordon.
This news opens up a Pandora’s box of questions in regards to exactly how the future of the DCEU will look in a few years. It seems that there is a concerted effort to adapt the “Bat-family” on the big-screen in a way that has never been imagined. Batman and Robin and Batman Forever attempted to bring some of these characters to movie audiences, however they are better off forgotten, as this will put a fresh spotlight on the heroes while deliberately placing them in the center of pop culture.
This also calls into question what the future of the Batman truly is. Ben Affleck has given over the directing reigns to Matt Reeves (War for the Planet of the Apes), while there have been whispers that his run as Bruce Wayne will be coming to an end in the near future. In any case, it seems that WB is lining up multiple options within Gotham City to carry the torch for the Bat. Whether it’s Nightwing, GCS, or Batgirl, Batman is crucial to the primary characters backstory and even some of their motivations, so it is almost unfathomable that there wouldn’t be at least limited involvement from the Caped Crusader. In addition, it’s unclear if J.K. Simmons will continue as Commissioner Gordon beyond Justice League, however it’s hard to imagine Whedon not wanting his participation in the film as the father of Batgirl.
Nabbing a talent like Whedon is ultimately a game-changer. He has a proven ability to create three-dimensional heroines, exemplified with his work on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and also is known for being an advocate for gender issues. It’s also clear why WB would be courting the prolific creator. Whedon pulled off what seemed to be the impossible, in assembling the various superheroes of the Marvel cinematic universe and turning them into The Avengers, one of the most successful movies of all-time. Plus, he already has a history with the studio, as Whedon wrote a script to direct his own Wonder Woman movie for WB over a decade ago, which clearly fell through.
However, it’s also hard to ignore Whedon’s very public meltdown during the filming and promotion of Avengers: Age of Ultron. Reportedly the pressures and constraints of fitting his vision within the framework of the larger MCU, took its toll on the filmmaker. At one point it even seemed that he would never even return to the genre, so that should be of concern for Warner Bros as well. However, it’s fully possible, and even more likely, that Whedon simply needed time away to recharge his batteries and he has returned with a fresh take on Batgirl.
Whedon’s a talented and passionate comic writer as well, so it’s not hard to understand his interest in the material. Perhaps he sees that the DCEU has a sense of lawlessness right now. Their cinematic universe has a lot in common with America’s Wild Wild West, since the rules and laws of the DC universe haven’t been established beyond Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and the still unseen Justice League. It could be that Whedon recognizes that this is his opportunity to put a stamp on his own corner of the DCEU. However it’s hard to imagine that Batgirl won’t at least be complementary to the other Gotham City-centric movies in development.
Ultimately, this is a rare win-win situations for both sides. Whedon should be afforded the creative space to create his film, particularly since Barbara Gordon has yet to be fully defined in the minds of the movie-going public. While Warner Bros should be able to get a high return on a lower investment than a typical Batman movie, since its unreasonable to think that the Batgirl’s budget will compete with The Batman’s eventual production budget. There certainly is a lot more to come on this and the other developing movies in the DCEU, as these and other details come to the surface. What a time to be a fan of the Bat.
There is currently no release date for Batgirl.