Even as “Wonder Woman” prepares for release in June, it's expected that another superheroine – Batgirl – will soon get her own solo movie as well.
Filmmaker Joss Whedon is in negotiations to write, direct, and produce an untitled Batgirl movie for Warner Bros's DC Extended Universe, Variety reported on Thursday. The move, which will bring one of the most popular superheroines in the world to the screen, highlights the willingness of studios to make more movies with female leads in recent years, despite skepticism over their box office potential.
Introduced in DC comics in 1967 as Barbra Gordon, the daughter of Gotham City police commissioner James Gordon, Batgirl first appeared in “The Million Dollar Debut of Batgirl.” She patrols the streets of Gotham at night fighting crime as Batman’s sidekick. Though she has no superpowers, like Batman, she knows martial arts and seems to have genius-level intelligence.
Yet in spite of her popularity, she has never had her own movie. The upcoming Batgirl project will be the second movie with a female protagonist from DC films.
The announcement comes at a moment when the lack of female superheroes has been the source of controversy. Marvel, which has brought many beloved superheroes, including Iron Man and Capitan America, back to the theater, has been reluctant to invest in female-led superhero movies. Leaked emails in May 2015 showed the studio’s Chief Executive Officer Ike Perlmutter questioning the profitability of superheroine movies, angering fans and critics alike, The Christian Science Monitor reported.
Mr. Whedon, who has written and directed the “Avengers” series for Marvel, in addition to a number of television series, said Marvel has the responsibility to lead the shift to have more women in leading roles.
"Marvel is in a position of making a statement simply by making [a female-led] movie, which I think would be a good thing to do," Whedon said in 2015, according to IndieWire. "But it has to be a good movie, [and] it has to be a good character."
Progress has been slow for female protagonists. But a pair of commercial successes in 2015 – “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” and “Mad Max: Fury Road” – both offered strong performances by female main characters and may have helped to reassure movie executives that audiences are not averse to female-led stories.
This year, while Marvel has hinted that a Black Widow movie is on top of its slate, Marvel’s rival DC films has also been stepping up to meet the demand. Margot Robbie, who portrayed Harley Quinn in DC films’ “Suicide Squad,” has reportedly been keen on making an all-female superhero movie. The idea has been welcomed by film critic Ben Child, who said “female-focused stories of the hugely popular DC SuperHero Girls line rather than endlessly regurgitated Batman and Superman tales” could be the real strength of DC.
“The future is looking both bright and diverse, and DC suddenly looks ready to lead the way by stepping into uncharted territory where its rivals fear to tread,” he wrote in a piece for the Guardian in May.