If Joss Whedon's departure and the ongoing questions about the future of the Batman franchise don't spell doom for Warner Bros.' Batgirl feature film, the studio intends to reach out to female filmmakers for a fresh take, according to numerous reports.
It was only weeks ago that reports were touting Batgirl and Flashpoint as the tip of the spear for DC's next wave of films.
Of course, until he left the project today, convention wisdom was that Whedon -- who was called in late in the game to help shape Justice League -- was the driving force behind Warner's interest in a Batgirl movie.
With Justice League in the rear-view mirror and its commercial reception an embarrassing failure for Warner Bros., it is the popularity of Wonder Woman and the commercial success of Suicide Squad which have kept the current DC movie universe afloat. With the overtly feminist messaging and marketing in and around Wonder Woman, Whedon's attachment to Batgirl seemed like an odd fit for some, especially when his feminist bona fides came under question by his ex-wife right around the start of the #metoo movement.
Still, Whedon is a Hollywood staple, has created numerous fan-favorite franchises, and paid his dues. If he had a great take on Batgirl, it seemed that was enough to get it made.
His statement today seemed to indicate that whatever take he had, though, never really gelled. Despite the success of Marvel's The Avengers and the commercial success of Avengers: Age of Ultron, Whedon seems unable to make things work at DC. His never-produced screenplay for Wonder Woman was held up on the internet as evidence that not everything he writes is Firefly.
Several outlets have reported today that with Whedon out, Warner Bros. is interested in pursuing female creators for the film, with The Tracking Board noting that success stories like Wonder Woman and Black Panther have likely made it more difficult for studios to use white men in films where representation will be a big part of the discussion around the movie.
Warner likely understand just how important that discussion is, given that pervasively negative messaging dogged Justice League throughout much of its development.1comments
Variety phrased it even more strongly, saying that "that the decision for Whedon to depart was a mutual one and reflects the studio’s desire to seek more female directors — particularly on projects centered on female characters."
Taken at face value, that claim raises questions about the viability of a Gotham City Sirens project -- DC's first all-female team adaptation since The WB's short-lived Birds of Prey TV series in 2002 -- which is currently slated to be directed by Suicide Squad's David Ayer.