The #DC Extended Universe has gotten off to an awkward start, pitting critics and die-hard fans against each other while still smashing the box office. There's a lot to say about the young franchise, but while the offerings thus far may have failed to thrill, there are a lot of exciting movies on the horizon.
And one of the really exciting things about the #DCEU is the fact that we may get to see the Bat Family on the big screen for the first time since the laughable attempt in Batman & Robin. News about a Nightwing movie emerged recently, and last week brought the revelation that The Avengers director Joss Whedon has been tapped to write, direct and produce a Batgirl movie for DC and Warner Bros.
Glossing over The Killing Joke controversy (which we absolutely do not need to see in the movie, thanks), Batgirl is a very exciting installation. And this is not just because it expands the number of solo female superhero-fronted movies, something that DC is already winning over the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It's because Batgirl is so important when it comes to the Bat Family lore, and her inclusion will mark a massive step forward not just for the DCEU, but for #superhero movies in general.
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But why is Batgirl so important? For a moment, let's take a look at Marvel and their most popular character, Peter Parker/Spider-Man. Spidey has already had five live-action solo movies, and this year he helms his first solo movie as part of the MCU.
#SpiderMan has been an incredibly popular and intensely lucrative character for Marvel ever since he debuted in the early 1960s, but why? Because, for young #comicbook readers, he was so relatable. And why was he so relatable? Because of his age.
When Peter Parker was first introduced, he was a brilliantly gifted but socially awkward teenager, an orphan and a bit of a loner. As Peter Parker he's an outsider, but as Spider-Man, he was every teenager's escapist dream. And Barbara Gordon and Peter Parker have more in common than you might think.
Though we don't typically see as much of Babs's non-superhero life as we do of Peter's, she too is isolated by her young brilliance as a precocious teenager. The difference between them is, like #Batman, she takes up a superhero mantle with no special powers aside from her gymnastics skills and her intelligence. Like Peter, Barbara also struggles with keeping her identity secret, but the stakes are even higher here because her father is the Police Commissioner, James Gordon.
But in many ways, Barbara is even more important than Peter Parker, because she was one of the first teenage girls to be presented as a serious superhero. Indeed she spent her early days standing up to the Dark Knight himself, as he pressured her to give up crime fighting due to the fact that she was a woman.
Characters like Wonder Woman, Mera, Black Widow and Captain Marvel either exist or will soon exist in live action, but they are all grown-ups. Marvel's Scarlet Witch is supposed to be a young woman — as she is referred to as a "kid" — but even the youthful looking Elizabeth Olsen is 28 years old.
Of course, there's no guarantee that we'll see a young version of Barbara Gordon in her movie, as she's been an active crimefighter from her young years through to becoming a grown woman. But the fact that Whedon is the one driving the project could have a big pay-off, as he's most famous for creating the teenage, kick-ass Buffy Summers in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Batgirl wouldn't be the first live-action movie to present young people as superheroes of course. The X-Men movies have featured young adults and teenagers, but mostly they've been presented in the roles of training within a school environment alongside other teenagers, not standing alone amongst older heroes.
Having a teenage girl in a major role in the DCEU, fully actualized and able to stand alongside the grown-ups, would be a massive step forward, both for DC and for superhero movies in general. Because while young boys have Spider-Man to look up to, it would be amazing for young girls to have a role model like Barbara Gordon.
Who do you want to play Barbara Gordon in Batgirl? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below!