Now that Warner Bros’ Batgirl movie is finally in development, there’s been a lot of speculation about Joss Whedon’s involvement in the project. In 2017, the studio announced that Whedon would write, direct and produce the film. But he left the movie in 2018 after realizing that he “didn’t really have a story.”
However, the controversial director is rumored to have written a script for Batgirl and might be credited for the screenplay. The news comes by way of Hollywood insider Daniel Richtman, who claims that Joss Whedon’s name will appear in the film’s credits if some of his script is used in the final product.
Joss Whedon originally signed on for Batgirl hoping to give superhero fans a companion to the female empowerment, smash hit Wonder Woman. But after a year of trying, he simply could not figure out what a Batgirl movie should be. Meanwhile, Patty Jenkins’ film became a cultural phenomenon and one of the most acclaimed movies of 2017.
At the time, Joss Whedon released a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, saying that he was ultimately unable to come up with a strong story worthy of the Batgirl character. “Batgirl is such an exciting project, and Warners/D.C. such collaborative and supportive partners, that it took me months to realize I really didn’t have a story,” Whedon told the publication.
Joss Whedon also thanked DC president Geoff Johns and Warner Bros. Picture Group president Toby Emmerich. “I’m grateful to Geoff and Toby and everyone who was so welcoming when I arrived, and so understanding when I… uh, is there a sexier word for failed?”
Despite the controversy surrounding his work on 2017’s Justice League, Joss Whedon has an impressive list of credits. He created Buffy the Vampire Slayer and successfully steered the character for seven seasons. He also worked on high-profile Marvel movies like The Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron.
Although Joss Whedon may have seemed like the perfect choice for Batgirl, his ability to write about female trauma with empathy has come under scrutiny lately. This includes Black Widow’s back story in Avengers: Age of Ultron, which associated her inability to bear children with her belief that she’s a “monster.”
There’s also the sexist Wonder Woman script that Joss Whedon wrote in 2006 that never went into production. The screenplay surfaced on several blogs (via IndieWire) in 2017, and folks were surprised that a self-proclaimed male feminist would objectify the character with descriptions like “to say she is beautiful is almost to miss the point” and “she folds into a dance that is sensual, ethereal and wicked sexy.”
Meanwhile, Bad Boys for Life filmmakers Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah have signed on to direct Batgirl. Christina Hodson, who has worked on Birds of Prey and The Flash, will be writing the script for the HBO Max film. Kristin Burr (of Cruella fame) will serve as producer.
Batgirl will focus on Barbara Gordon, the daughter of Gotham City police commissioner James Gordon, with Gail Simone’s The New 52 Batgirl comics used as a starting point for the story. Additionally, Leslie Grace was cast as Batgirl last week. The studio was already impressed with the actress’s breakout role in In the Heights, and her audition sealed the deal. There is currently no release date for the movie.