Variety broke word earlier today that WB and DC are close to inking a deal with Joss Whedon to direct a standalone Batgirl movie in the DC Extended Universe. I got excited and figured this was another piece of great news for what is my favorite comic book shared universe.
There are those who share my excitement:
And there are those who don't exactly share it:
So since my Twitter timeline is somewhat manic at the moment, let's take a moment to look at how this is a GOOD thing for the DCEU and also address some of what people are upset about. First the good things. To begin with, this is a movie that has never been done before outside of in animated form and the prospect of an actual live-action Batgirl movie standalone is just fun to consider. It shows that WB and DC are willing to really go even further into uncharted territory with the DCEU and tell stories that have never been told before on the big screen and also create a truly expansive world of characters that go even deeper than just cameos in the big Justice League member movies. Batgirl has never really been thought of in her own movie, has she? It's been all about putting her in a Batman movie to this point, so giving her a solo movie is outstanding.
It's also yet another female-led comic book movie in a shared universe, which is great news with Wonder Woman set to release this year and Gotham City Sirens directed by David Ayer also in the works. DC is making it clear that strong female characters are a priority within the DCEU and that's a very welcome sentiment to finally see being realized in production plans for comic book movie franchises. Strong female characters are also in Joss Whedon's territory as he has a history with writing and developing strong female characters in his other projects like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly. He's also clearly experienced with directing comic book movies having been Marvel's darling for The Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron.
Unfortunately, that's also where the concerns and in many cases the downright anger also come into play with this decision. For one thing, a lot of DCEU fans that didn't like the Avengers movies or don't like the Marvel Cinematic Universe in general are not happy that one of its most prolific directors could be involved in the DCEU as he might bring an MCU tone to a franchise that is anything but. The thing is, the MCU as many know has a definitive formula that it uses for the production and development of its movies and while it is entertaining for many audiences, it's also pretty static and universally constructed to the point where every movie really looks and feels the same. It's no secret that this has been a point of contention with former MCU directors like Edgar Wright, Patty Jenkins and even Whedon himself. So in looking at that successful yet uniform system that Marvel uses, how much can you put on him for Age of Ultron if he was just following what Disney wanted him to do?
With Batgirl, Whedon would almost certainly enjoy a higher degree of freedom than he enjoyed with the MCU and would be able to craft a project closer to what he's truly capable of like with Buffy or Firefly. I like what he did with the MCU but even he has spoken about how restrictive it was for him so I don't judge his career as a director by either of the Avengers movies. If he is agreeing to do a movie like Batgirl and not a bigger movie like The Flash or Man of Steel 2, you have to think he's doing it for a reason and he will be allowed to shine his brightest on it. This is also why I'm fine with the director being him and not a woman. I don't feel that Joss Whedon is more qualified to direct Batgirl than a woman would be and I could think of five female directors (Kathryn Bigelow, Sofia Coppola, Ava Duvernay, Julie Taymor and Patty Jenkins) that I think would be awesome for the movie, but I don't think Joss is a bad pick either because of his development of strong female characters in his career. I feel like if Marvel would have allowed him to make a Black Widow movie he would have, but the MCU machine has its plans and that's it. I'm speculating but that's just how I feel. Whedon will do Batgirl proud, I'm confident of that.
Alright, now for the fans of other characters that want to see their movies first. Yes I know that The Flash is still hunting for a director and now a new release date, The Batman solo movie is waiting for Matt Reeves to be done with War of the Planet of the Apes stuff before they can get going and the Cyborg and Green Lantern Corps fans are chomping at the bit too. You don't care about a Batgirl movie anymore than you would a Nightwing movie, which was also announced with Chris McKay directing. You're also probably irritated that it's another character from the Bat-family getting a movie announcement instead of one of those others mentioned above or even someone else like Green Arrow or Supergirl. I get it, you want to see your characters on the big screen and you want someone other than a Batman-related character.
Here's the thing: This year we are getting a Wonder Woman movie for the first time, a Justice League movie for the first time and next year comes an Aquaman movie for the first time. We're in uncharted territory here and WB is giving the impression that instead of building their shared cinematic universe around one team that affects all of the solo movies, they are building their world by shining a light on a characters we've only ever seen in supporting roles and giving them a chance to shine on the solo stage, therefore building the world even deeper and more expansive than just the Justice League members themselves. They saw it work with Suicide Squad last year and now they are banking on a similar plan with Gotham City Sirens, Nightwing and Batgirl. There's a calculated risk involved, but it's different than anything we have seen from anyone at this point.
One other thing: If you are a DCEU fan that is worried about the critic and blogger narrative of "DC is taking notes from Marvel to change its tone by hiring Joss Whedon," well I can't tell you that they won't say that but I can tell you it's complete crap. There's more than enough searchable and verified evidence on the Internet proving that a tonal shift for the DCEU was already planned before Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was even released, and even though we are already seeing evidence of that shift in the first Justice League trailer, it's still not looking to be anything close to the family-friendly and relatively safe tone of the MCU so anyone suggesting that Whedon's hiring would add that tone to the DCEU just looks foolish to do so, but they will and it will bother you so all I have to say is ignore it like all of the other trolls that want to antagonize you. If you know it's not true and I know it's not true, then what does it matter if bloggers or a bunch of fanboys tries to tell you different? It doesn't. Don't give that tired argument the time of day.
I'll admit I'm biased on this announcement on two fronts, not only as a fan of Joss Whedon's work but also as a fan of the Batgirl character which goes all the way back to being a little kid watching Yvonne Craig's version in syndication on the Batman '66 TV show, to Melissa Gilbert and later Tara Strong's animated versions in Batman the Animated Series and The New Batman Adventures, to finally reading her in the comics and now currently enjoying both the Batgirl and Batgirl and the Birds of Prey runs in DC Rebirth. I'm excited to see her get her own movie and I like the idea of Whedon joining the DCEU pantheon of directors. It's a win-win for me no doubt and while I know there are plenty of DCEU fans that don't agree with that, I do think it's silly to get that bent out of shape over the announcement that still needs to be confirmed by WB in the first place. I hope it becomes official for sure, but pump the brakes on the outrage or the excitement for it, eh? I know that social media is a haven of overreaction and sweating the small stuff, but still......CHILL OUT if you're that mad about it. It's not official yet and even if it does become official, it's really not a bad move. More movies we've never seen before for the DCEU is never a bad move in my opinion, but that's just me.