In apparent determination to catch up to the MCU, Warner Bros. have announced several new movies to add to their DC cinematic canon — first Nightwing got a solo movie, and now a Joss Whedon-helmed Batgirl has been announced. The reception to this has so far been mixed, with some people citing Whedon's time on Buffy the Vampire Slayer as proof that he's perfect to lead Batgirl, while others point to Whedon's problematic portrayal of Black Widow in Age of Ultron as proof that he shouldn't be allowed near female superheroes ever again.
Until we get more info the jury's still out, but as a long-standing and beloved #DC character Batgirl has decades of stories to draw from, and there are plenty of things we hope the new movie will include. Right at the top of my list is Alysia Yeoh — Barbara's best friend and the first transgender character in mainstream comics.
A Groundbreaking Portrayal
Alysia was introduced early on in the New 52's Batgirl solo series as Barbara's new roommate. An activist, painter and aspiring chef, Alysia soon became Babs' closest friend, and eventually came out to her as trans. It has now been confirmed that Whedon's movie will adapt the New 52 Batgirl series, so it seems highly likely that Alysia will appear.
Alysia has proved to be a popular character among fans which is thanks to her interesting characterization — at once a spunky activist and compassionate friend, Alysia has become such a staple of Batgirl's story that she was also included in the later series Batgirl Of Burnside, which saw her marry her longtime girlfriend Jo.
Naturally, we'd love to see Alysia appear in the #DCEU Batgirl movie, as Barbara tries to balance her superhero missions with her everyday life. The New 52 series followed Babs after her horrific injury at the hands of the Joker in The Killing Joke — but unlike the 1990s followups that saw Babs become the wheelchair-bound, hacker hero Oracle, an experimental surgery in the New 52 allowed Barbara to once again soar throughout the city as Batgirl. But she had to hide this identity from her roommate Alysia, which made for interesting storytelling.
Alysia's presence onscreen would be hugely groundbreaking and inspirational, as so far there have been absolutely no trans characters in superhero movies — and very few in mainstream comics.
When we talk about #LGBT representation, it's easy to forget the final letter in the acronym, but in a lot of ways transgender youth are more at risk than anyone else in the LGBT community. With a shockingly high suicide rate, transgender kids are also most likely to end up homeless after being kicked out by unsupportive parents.
It seems like a small solution to a complicated social problem, but positive representations of marginalized people in mainstream media can have a huge impact. For a lot of people, seeing characters like them on a screen sends the message that they aren't alone, that they exist and they're valid and things can be better. Not only that, but normalizing the trans experience can also go a long way to changing minds and educating the wider population.
Suffice it to say, even though she's just a supporting character it would be fantastic to see Alysia in the Batgirl film, as she could become a beacon for trans youth. And who knows, maybe Alysia will even become a Batgirl herself, as in the Elseworlds comic DC's Bombshells. Putting the first trans superhero on the big screen? Now that would really give DC the edge against Marvel.
Tell us in the comments: What do you want to see in the Batgirl movie?