Turmoil involving a potential blockbuster usually isn’t a good sign, but news that Joss Whedon has exited the Batgirl film actually has some people excited given the recent success of Wonder Woman and Black Panther.
The project has been in the works for some time. Warner Brothers announced the film almost a year ago in March 2017, along with the news that Whedon, the man who is responsible for Buffy The Vampire Slayer and directed the first Avengers movie, would be directing. Since then, though, a few things have developed (including a scandal and the notable box office success of non-white dude filmmaker) and one very important thing didn’t (an actual script).
So, Whedon and Batgirl are parting ways. “Batgirl is such an exciting project, and Warners/DC such collaborative and supportive partners, that it took me months to realize I really didn’t have a story,” the filmmaker told The Hollywood Reporter in an exclusive statement.
The Reporter included some intriguing context from anonymous sources. “In today’s cultural entertainment environment, a male filmmaker may have faced greater public scrutiny if he were to have tackled a movie with such feminist importance like Batgirl or Wonder Woman, much like a white filmmaker would have seen backlash taking on the Black Panther movie,” read their insider info. The fact that Whedon’s ex-wife Kai Cole recently blasted the creator in an open later doesn’t help. She dubbed him “a hypocrite preaching feminist ideals,” who cheated on her multiple times.
Whatever the case may be, fans are hoping that this doesn’t mean that the project is dead, but rather that it may open the doors to female creatives taking the helm.
Roxane Gay, who in addition to writing critically lauded essays and memoirs has also written comics for Marvel, volunteered her services.
Fans are also throwing around ideas for female directors who could take over the project. Mudbound‘s Dee Rees, The Leftovers‘ Mimi Leder, Westworld and Game of Thrones director Michelle MacLaren, and Zero Dark Thirty‘s Kathryn Bigelow have all been suggested. Of course, DC’s archival Marvel has found success with directors who have no previous experience with action or blockbuster movies, but are instead known for their quirkier fare. Maybe put Greta Gerwig on your shortlist too, and why not Sofia Coppola just for kicks? Put in some feelers with Lisa Cholodenko or Lynne Ramsey while you’re at it
A female director taking over the project wouldn’t just be great for Hollywood’s overall diversity problem. It may also be good for business, something that the success of Wonder Woman and Black Panther seem to point to.
Of course, there’s still the matter of who would play Batgirl in the film, although Lindsay Lohan has been openly campaigning for the job.