Barbara Gordon gets a "crazy dark" origin story but "becomes her own hero" when Leslie Grace dons the iconic cape and cowl of Batgirl. The costumed crime-fighting protégé of Batman and the daughter of Gotham City Police Commissioner James Gordon (Justice League's J.K. Simmons), the underestimated but self-determined Barbara Gordon has much to prove when she makes her million-dollar debut in the HBO Max movie from writer Christina Hodson (DC's Birds of Prey, The Flash). Speaking to Elle, the In the Heights star previewed the HBO Max original movie expected to premiere in 2022:
"I can't say much about what she is going to do, but Batgirl becomes her own hero. [Her origin story] is crazy dark, like a lot of other superheroes, but I like that she becomes Batgirl because she wants to make a difference in the world," Grace said. "She feels like people underestimate her as Barbara Gordon, and I relate to that. I'm the youngest of my siblings and sometimes I still feel like a little kid inside. When I really want to do something, and people underestimate me, I'm like, 'Okay, I'm just going to do it and not say anything about it.'"
"It's that energy of being self-determined," added Grace. "You can't be afraid to be your own hero, and I think girls need to see that. We all need to see characters that are willing to be autonomous."
Most depictions of the red-haired heroine depict her as the daughter of Jim and Barbara Gordon, who is inspired by Batman to become a caped crusader. Her brother, James Gordon Jr., is often depicted as a serial killer with a split-personality disorder.
For Grace, who made her film debut for Warner Bros. in this summer's In the Heights, Barbara's first solo movie is in many ways the culmination of her own superhero story.
"I always loved the idea of superheroes, but I didn't grow up in a typical Dominican home reading comics or watching the animated series on TV. So now I'm doing all this research and nerding out learning about parallel universes," Grace said. "It's funny, though—I have a best friend named Nadia, whom I've known for like 16 years. We met when my family moved to Florida and we lived in the same neighborhood. We've been like sisters ever since. We always got into trouble as kids, so we started calling each other Batman and Robin. I had a black Jeep, so we called it the Grace-mobile. When Nadia found out that I got the role of Batgirl, she was like 'All this time, we've been manifesting this.'"
In portraying Barbara, previously played on film by Alicia Silverstone (as Barbara Wilson) in 1997's Batman & Robin and Hannah Gunn as Gordon's young daughter in 2008's The Dark Knight, Grace is working hard to do right by the iconic DC Comics character — and her legion of fans.
"I can't believe Batgirl and I are in the same sentence," she said. "I'm so grateful to everyone that has placed faith in my potential. I'm working very hard and studying very hard to not let anybody down."