Rumor has it that Warner Brother’s is courting Joss Whedon to write and direct a Batgirl movie. As expected, tons of geeks are practically rejoicing in the streets exclaiming, “The guy who did Buffy is directing #Batgirl!” On paper, this might seem like a great idea. Whedon is a self-proclaimed feminist after all, which theoretically would make him the perfect person to tackle a Batgirl/Barbara Gordon movie, right?
Well, I certainly don’t think so.
The first thing that jumps to mind is that all of these people celebrating the rumors are the exact same people who had issues with the way Black Widow’s character was treated in Avengers: Age of Ultron. For the sake of honesty, I’ll admit that I was young and stupid back then and tried to defend Whedon. Since then, I’ve realized that the only female Avenger (Scarlet Witch only kinda counts since she joined at the end) was handled with all the care and grace of a gorilla that happened to find a toddler in its enclosure. Whedon essentially tried to fit a square peg in a triangle hole by forcing her to be the love interest of Bruce Banner, making her a damsel in distress for the team to rescue before proceeding to make her inability to have children her character’s deepest darkest secret.
That was just one time, though, right?
Well, maybe. Recently #JossWhedon declared himself a “super woke bae” in an interview with Vanity Fair, something I don’t think white males can actually declare themselves, but that’s neither here nor there. Whedon’s track record should speak for itself and a lot of people would consider Age of Ultron a low point in his career. However, looking back on even his most beloved works — Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Dollhouse, and Firefly — there are some serious problems with all of them.
Female Characters And The Joss Whedon Treatment
Buffy is touted as his most inspiring character because she is a supposed feminist icon. Sure, she’s the chosen one, super strong and kicks butt, but that’s not enough to make her a strong character. Buffy’s entire life is controlled by the men around her. Just take a look at any of her failed relationships — she falls to pieces whenever they don’t work out, which just seems a bit out of character for someone who shut the very gates of hell.
In Firefly, the noblest position a woman can have is a companion, which is a fancy way to say "prostitute." So, in the future, this noble career is one based on pleasing other people (more often than not men). Not to say that there is anything wrong with women to embrace and have pride in their sexuality, but to have that as some noble calling that is celebrated, well that kinda takes a lot of the choice out of it.
Then there is Dollhouse, where a number of women (and some men) are programmed by men to play out roles. Do I really need to say anything else about that?
The point is that yeah, Whedon creates shows and movies with women at the center of them, and, yeah, he does try to make them “strong.” However, he doesn’t make them emotionally strong characters. Instead, he just gives them the ability to punch hard and declares them equal. I will give him credit for trying to do the right thing, but I think it's become clear that Whedon is less of a feminist and more of a exploiter of female protagonists with his work. That's why I don't think he's capable of delivering a proper Batgirl movie.
Barbara Gordon is easily one of the most important female characters in the DC Universe. She stands tall next to one of its greatest heroes and is someone that he trusts and respects, two things that he does not do easily. She has been through hell and back as a character and shown that there is so much more to her than just being Batgirl. Because of the amount of depth and nuance required to do her justice, I don’t believe Joss Whedon is capable of giving audiences the Barbara Gordon or Batgirl they deserve.
So, Who Should Direct 'Batgirl'?
Honestly, Warner Brothers had the right idea with Wonder Woman. A female director is probably the only chance fans will get to see a truly feminist version of the character, because she (whoever she is) is not going to show us the Batgirl that we want to see, but the Batgirl that we need to see — the character that will struggle and overcome. Not because she’s weak, but because that’s what makes the Bat-family so great. They are mortals surrounded by God like beings that can fly and shoot lasers from their eyes. Despite that, though, they never give up and always keep fighting. Beaten, bloodied and broken, Batgirl will still stand and use her mind to overcome anything thrown at her.
That’s why I honestly believe that Whedon should not be the one to give us the character: He’s just going to show us a Mary Sue; his fantasy vision of “equality.” Batgirl needs to have a female director and writer that can show us why she is such a strong character, not just tell us that she is.
So, what do you think? Is Whedon still the best guy out there to write and direct female characters? Do you think a female director would do the character more justice? If so, who do you think should be the director of Batgirl?