Nearly a year ago, Warner announced that Joss Whedon, who had written and directed the first two ‘Avengers’ movies and whose creative influence could be seen throughout Phase Two of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, would be bringing his talents to DC in the form of a Batgirl film. Of course, it hasn’t exactly been smooth sailing for ‘Batgirl’ since then. Almost immediately, the film found itself on the backburner (understandably so) as Whedon found himself in the unenviable position of ushering ‘Justice League’ across the finish line when Zack Snyder was forced to step away from the project following a personal tragedy. And then, just last week it was announced that Whedon was stepping away from the project. In addition to alleged concerns on the studio’s part about the optics of a male director helming a ‘Batgirl’ in a post-‘Wonder Woman’, post-#MeToo world, Whedon himself acknowledged that he’d had difficulty finding a satisfactory story, a circumstance that led him to wonder in his own inimitable fashion if there was “a sexier word for “failed”.”
But what does that mean for the film? Is ‘Batgirl’ still on track (pending a new writer/director) or is this the beginning of the end? Well, it’s still hard to say with any certainty, but in either case, we won’t be buying our tickets anytime soon. Speaking to The Wrap, an “individual with knowledge of the project” says that there are no immediate plans to find a replacement for Whedon. While this isn’t exactly a death-knell for the film, it’s not the most encouraging news either. That same insider stresses that the studio’s gameplan was always to establish the core members of the Justice League before venturing into spinoff territory. That being the case, even if Whedon had cracked the story and remained on board, the ‘Batgirl’ was unlikely to go before the cameras until sometime after the completion of ‘The Batman’, the standalone Batfleck Bat-flick helmed by Matt Reeves. And of course, ‘The Batman’ has had problems of its own, including seemingly endless speculation as to whether or not Ben Affleck will remain in the title role.
But ultimately, the biggest hurdle ‘Batgirl’ faces may well be DC Films itself. Given the decidedly mixed reception of their superhero effort to date and the particularly tepid audience response to ‘Justice League’, a cloud of uncertainty now hangs over the entire venture. While a full slate of films (including a number of spinoffs and side stories) had been announced, the only ones that are likely to be safe amid the studio’s post-‘Justice League’ course corrections are ‘Aquaman’ (which has already completed filming), ‘Wonder Woman 2’ (which was virtually assured by the first film’s success and has entered pre-production), and ‘Flashpoint’ (a solo Flash vehicle that Warner is rumored to see as a gateway to a soft reboot of their cinematic universe). No doubt the fate of ‘Batgirl’ hinges as much on the performance of these films as it does on the studio’s broader plans, particularly if the rumored reboot requires them to re-introduce one or more of their major characters.
Be sure to check back with ScienceFiction.com for more on ‘Batgirl’ and other upcoming DC films as it becomes available.