Many of us have been hoping for an appearance from Batgirl in some form in the DCEU, but I don’t think any of us were expecting for her to get her own movie, and especially not one from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Serenity creator, and Avengers director Joss Whedon. But that’s exactly what happened, as Whedon was just announced as potential writer/director for the world’s first big screen Batgirl adventure for Warner Brothers.
The character of Batgirl just celebrated 50 years since her debut in Detective Comics, and although she was technically created by DC Comics for the ’60s Batman TV show, she has had a lifespan far surpassing that, becoming one of comics’ most iconic and complex heroes.
Although the news suggests that they are drawing from writer Gail Simone’s run of New 52 comics, there are a ton of great Batgirl stories to choose from when looking for inspiration for a live-action adaptation. Here are but of few of the stories that should serve to inspire Whedon when crafting his big screen Barbara Gordon saga.
Batgirl: Year One #1-9 (2003)
Back in 2003, writers Chuck Dixon and Scott Beatty wrote this nine-book maxi-series, which was to give Barbara Gordon the definitive take on the origin of Batgirl for the modern comics era. The art for this series came from then-newbie artist Marcos Martin, and everything has a crisp, retro (but not too retro) look. Both Dixon and Beatty proved they had a great take on Barbara’s characterization with this mini-series.
In this series, Barbara is a fresh out of college teenager (having graduated high school early, because she’s a genius ya know), and wants to follow in her father Jim Gordon’s footsteps in law enforcement. She applies to the FBI Academy and the Gotham Police Department, and is rejected for being too short, too young, and (although it’s never explicitly said) for being female. So she goes her own route and becomes a vigilante, inspired not by Batman, but by super heroine Black Canary! (The Batgirl name is meant more as a practical joke on her father, Batman’s best bud).
There’s a lot of reasons this would be a great inspiration for Whedon; for starters, it’s always best to start at the beginning. Plus the notion of a heroine not being taken seriously because of her gender/age? I’d say the creator of Buffy has some experience with that. Plus if anyone can make silly villains like Killer Moth and Firefly work, it’s Whedon.
“The Cat and the Bat” (Batman Confidential #17-21 2008)
During the time that Barbara Gordon was crippled and confined to a wheelchair as Oracle, there weren’t a lot of Batgirl stories being written about her, with DC focusing on the various legacy Batgirls like Cassandra Cain and Stephanie Brown. But there was one delightful Batgirl story about Barbara Gordon that was made during this period, and it happened not in her own title, but in the pages of the Bat-family anthology, Batman: Confidential.
This humorous storyline was brought to us by the creative team of writer Fabian Nicieza and artist Kevin Maguire, and it features Batgirl’s very first meeting with Catwoman, when Selina Kyle steals a notebook from Commissioner Gordon and his daughter will go to any lengths to retrieve it. The story is filled with jokes, and has a lot of potentially cinematic action. The inclusion of lots of funny moments puts this squarely in Whedon’s wheelhouse. Plus, it would serve as a proper introduction to Catwoman for the DCEU (assuming this gets made before Gotham City Sirens, that is).
“Wanted” (Batgirl, Vol. 4, #19-25, 2013)
In this story from the aforementioned writer Gail Simone, Commissioner Gordon blames Batgirl for his son’s James Junior’s untimely death, and he goes after her with everything that he’s got, never once realizing he’s going after his own daughter. It’s a pretty dark subject matter to take on for the first ever Batgirl movie, but there is still a lot of the Gordon family dynamic, which could prove fertile ground for a potential movie. Adding to all the drama is Barbara’s own guilt at her belief that she caused her brother’s death.
Gail Simone has become the definitive Barbara Gordon writer for years while writing the team book Birds of Prey for DC Comics, but during all that time, Babs was only ever Oracle, and not her costumed persona. The New 52 allowed Simone to writer Barbara as a fully fledged superhero, and she proved that her Batgirl was just as amazing and complex as her Oracle. This storyline is maybe the best from Simone’s run with the character, and even if it isn’t directly adapted by Whedon, he should cherry pick some of the most compelling aspects of Simone’s characterization.
“Batgirl of Burnside” (Collects Batgirl #35-40, 2014)
This is one of the most recent iterations of the character, following up Gail Simone’s run, but still within the confines of the New 52 continuity. In this run of stories, written by Brenden Fletcher and Cameron Stewart, with art by Babs Tarr, Barbara Gordon tries to start over with her life by moving to the Gotham-adjacent town of Burnside, home of hipsters and young people just starting out on their own.
But before too long, Batgirl once again finds herself fighting villains like an online gossip monger with a cybernetic implant, twin assassins with an anime bent, and even a showboating “evil” Batgirl impostor in a glittery outfit, who may or may not be a man. These stories are certainly lighter in tone than anything Babs had to deal with in years.
All of these stories portray Batgirl as a youthful, dynamic character, and the art from Babs Tarr is fun and cartoony, but in a totally great way. Her costume redesign for the character draws from not only the original Batman ’66 television series, but updates it all in a modern way while still looking like Batgirl. Much like the Batman Confidential arc, there is a lot of humor to play with here, and we all know that humor mixed with action and drama is Joss Whedon’s specialty.
Which Batgirl stories would you love to see inspire Joss Whedon’s movie version? Let us know down below in the comments.
Images: DC Comics / Warner Brothers
Get the skinny on a Whedon-made Batgirl below!
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