Joss Whedon. The man responsible for creating Buffy the Vampire Slayer, one of the most-loved and iconic TV shows of all time. A man so familiar with superheroes that he penned an iconic run of Astonishing X-Men, and helmed Marvel's most successful movie to date - The Avengers. And now he's joining the DCEU, as writer, producer, and director of #Batgirl.
Needless to say, the news has taken the internet by storm! How have the fans reacted?
The Main Reaction? Enthusiasm
Let's start with Gail Simone, whose response pretty much typifies the majority of fan-reactions. Of course, Gail Simone is hardly a stranger to the character of Batgirl - she's a comic book writer who's best known for #DC comics, including Birds of Prey!
Moving on from this key industry figure, fans of Joss Whedon are jubilant:
Others, of course, are distinctly amused that Whedon has moved over to DC, with some speculating that it's a snub to #Marvel. I doubt it; Whedon's worked with DC before (including writing the script for an unmade Wonder Woman film in the 2000s), and has long described Batgirl as a character he loves. For all that's the case, though, even I can't help finding real humor in the situation:
The Buffy Factor
I'll be very surprised if the Batgirl film isn't inspired by the tremendously popular 'Batgirl of Burnside' arc, which features a young #BarbaraGordon struggling to deal with life as a superhero. It's a bold, culturally-aware comic, and frankly it stands in a tradition Joss Whedon will be very familiar with - add in the supernatural, and it could easily be a modern-day incarnation of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
The similarity in tone and style has left a lot of fans pretty relaxed. This is the kind of story Joss Whedon has proven he can tell well.
Better than 'The Killing Joke'...
Only last year, DC Animation released #TheKillingJoke - an animated version of the iconic Alan Moore story that damaged their otherwise glowing track record. The movie included a very odd relationship between Batman and Batgirl, who have sex on a rooftop, after which she pines for him. And then there's a weird, frictional dynamic between them after hooking up.
Needless to say, most fans were not amused, and some are joking that at least this Batgirl will be better than the one we saw last year. Over in the DC Cinematic Universe Facebook group, one wit pointed out:
"Whedon doesn't do unnecessary hookups so we should be good on that."
Be Careful, Joss Whedon - Remember Who You're Working With...
Avengers: Age of Ultron was the straw that broke the camel's back, and some fans are pointing out that Warner Bros. has a history of interfering with superhero movies that may well make Whedon long for the old Marvel Creative Committee. Personally, I think they're overstating; there's a world of difference between a franchise-defining tentpole film like Age of Ultron and Batgirl, which promises to be just another part of the increasingly Bat-shaped jigsaw puzzle that is the future of the #DCEU.
What Happened to the Rest of the DCEU?
Not all fans are happy with DC's new, Bat-centric direction. As one criticized in the DC Cinematic Universe Facebook group:
"I'm a DC fanboy through and through, but even I have to admit that the DCEU have no plan at all really. They used to, but now they're just announcing whatever movies they believe will make them the most money. Right now, we have movies like Gotham City Sirens, Nightwing and Bat Girl who seem to be in a better place than the likes of Green Lantern, Shazam and Man of Steel 2... Right now, Gotham City Sirens, Nightwing and Bat Girl might even come out before Flash. Wtf is that?"
He has a point. DC's clearly set aside their original plan, and is now focusing on building the Bat-corner of the DCEU. The approach makes sense; #BenAffleck's Batman has been phenomenally successful, after all. But the other films do need to see some love from Warner Bros. too.
Why Not a Female Director?
That said, the biggest criticism is that DC should have tapped a female writer, producer, and director. It's true that the DCEU is already more gender-balanced than its rival MCU; so far, DC Films has signed up for Wonder Woman, Gotham City Sirens, and now Batgirl. But only one of these films is headed up by a woman.
- Joss Whedon To Direct, Write And Produce A 'Batgirl' Film For The DCEU
- Does 'The Killing Joke' Have A Batgirl Problem?
- Exploring the Strange Portrayal of Batman in 'Suicide Squad'
All in all, though, DC seems to be on to a winner. Fans are thrilled at the idea of #JossWhedon returning to superhero films; he's a phenomenal talent, and his love of the genre shines through time and again. What's more, the character of Batgirl plays to the strengths he demonstrated so well back in the days of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, so we can have a pretty much unshakeable confidence that this film should go well.