Where 'Batgirl' Might Fit Into the DC Films Universe

Where 'Batgirl' Might Fit Into the DC Films Universe

Apr 10, 2018

Alicia Silverstone in Batman and Robin

The DC Films universe is slowly evolving, though nearly all the major changes are happening behind the scenes. Last month, for example, we heard that Ava DuVernay will direct New Gods for Warner Bros. and DC Films, based on characters created by Jack Kirby in a comic book series that featured natives of two distant planets -- one a beautiful paradise, the other a polluted nightmare -- and the war that breaks out between them. If things work out with the film, more installments could easily follow because that particular universe of characters is rich with possibilities.

What about Batgirl? It sounded like it had two big advantages: the name recognition of the lead character and the reputation of Joss Whedon, the filmmaker hired to write and direct the project. Whedon, who helmed both The Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron to tremendous success for Marvel and Disney, has also been writing comic books for years and sounded like a great choice. In February, though, Whedon departed. He said: "It took me months to realize I really didn't have a story."

Rather than let the idea of a Batgirl movie languish, however, Warner Bros. has hired Christina Hodson to write a fresh new screenplay, according to The Hollywood Reporter. What does that mean for the future of Batgirl in the DC Films universe?

Who is Christina Hodson?

Two films crediting Hodson as writer have been released so far, both thrillers featuring women in the lead roles. Although neither Shut In, starring Naomi Watts, nor Unforgettable, starring Rosario Dawson and Katherine Heigl, were barnburners at the box office, it's notable that Hodson has seen two of her scripts produced in such a short period of time.

In their story, THR notes that Hodson has also been invited to share in two writers' rooms, where a group of writers gather to generate ideas for potential sequels. Her participation in the Transformers writers' room led to her writing Bumblebee, the first spin-off movie of the action series, which will hit theaters in December 2018.

In November 2016, Hodson also helped to develop a film project intended to revolve around the crime-fighting Birds of Prey, based on the DC comic book series that includes Barbara Gordon. Rumors at the time suggested the film would include Harley Quinn, the outrageous criminal character played by Margot Robbie in Suicide Squad, but that didn't happen.

Who is Batgirl?

Probably the most familiar incarnation is Barbara Gordon, who was introduced in 1967 as the daughter of police commissioner James Gordon. She was shot by the Joker in Alan Moore's graphic novel Batman: The Killing Joke and disabled, though she still fought crime as a computer expert.

As with other DC Comics characters, Batgirl's civilian identity has changed over the years and so has the character herself, giving the filmmakers behind the new film version a lot of room to create a new hero for the modern age.

Where have I seen Batgirl before?

Barbara Gordon appeared in the third season of the TV show Batman back in the 1960s, played by Yvonne Craig. She also made appearances in a host of animated small-screen shows. Dina Meyer played her in the live-action series Birds of Prey in 2002, though the focus was on her incarnation as Oracle, first seen in DC comic books as a post-paralysis computer expert.

Alicia Silverstone played a variation on the character in Batman & Robin (see top photo), in which she was portrayed as the niece of Alfred Pennyworth. Rosario Dawson voiced Barbara Gordon in The Lego Batman Movie, who takes over for her father as police commissioner in Gotham City before eventually taking on the mantle of Batgirl.


How will Batgirl fit into the new DC Films universe?

In a recent Comics on Film column, writer Chris Clow suggested that Warner Bros. might be open to making stand-alone movies that are not necessarily connected to the wider shared universe, as exemplified most recently by Justice League and the upcoming Aquaman. The studio currently has three superhero movies on the release calendar: Aquaman (December 21, 2018), Shazam! (April 5, 2019) and Wonder Woman 2 (November 1, 2019).

Multiple DC movies are under development at Warner Bros., including Matt Reeves' The Batman, Flashpoint (to be directed by John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein), Gavin O'Connor's Suicide Squad 2, and, as we mentioned at the top, Ava DuVernay's New Gods.

Other projects include Green Lantern Corps; a movie teaming up the Joker and Harley Quinn (from filmmakers John Requa and Glenn Ficarra); another spin-off featuring the Joker from director Todd Phillips; Nightwing from director Chris McKay; and Gotham City Sirens, also revolving around Harley Quinn, maybe with director David Ayer on board. (A great list of other possible projects can be found at Collider.)

That's a lot of projects, a lot of possibilities and a lot of questions. Warner Bros. and DC could continue making films starring Justice League characters in a primary, connected storyline, while also making stand-alone projects that deliver distinctive and very different creative visions of passionate filmmakers.

One thing seems clear: there should always be room for another movie featuring a strong, heroic woman in the lead role.

Categories: Features, In Development, Geek
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