The DC Extended Universe continues to expand, as Warner Bros. Pictures has announced that a solo Batgirl movie is in development, according to Variety. Filmmaker Joss Whedon is in talks to write, direct, and produce the upcoming comic book adaptation, jumping ship to the DCEU after being involved in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, directing both 2012's The Avengers and 2015's Age Of Ultron. And while the sound of Whedon's name may set any nerd's heart fluttering (although some fans on Twitter have mixed reactions), the real news here shouldn't be the man hired to direct the movie, but the fact that a female superhero is getting a solo franchise at all.
Although both the DCEU and the MCU have female-fronted solo films on the horizon — this June's Wonder Woman and 2019's Captain Marvel, respectively — comic book movies centered around women are still undoubtedly a rarity in this day and age. (Heck, that Black Widow solo movie that fans have been clamoring for ever since Scarlett Johansson debuted the role in 2010 is still no closer to a reality than it was seven years ago.)
Too often, films by women and about women have to "prove" themselves before studios will greenlight more. Part of the reason it's taken so long to get more female superhero franchises off the ground is undoubtedly due to the flops of films like Catwoman and Elektra… even though the failures of Daredevil, Green Lantern, and Ghost Rider seemingly did nothing to stem the flow of male-fronted superhero movies.
So, the fact that Warner Bros. doesn't feel the need to wait and find out whether Wonder Woman will be a critical or commercial success before developing another film about a female superhero is encouraging in and of itself. Now, let's just hope the studio doesn't feel the need to shoehorn Batman into her movie in order to "guarantee" it does well. Because let's be clear: Batman absolutely shouldn't be in the Batgirl solo movie.
There are plenty of reasons for this — not the least of which is, the pair doesn't exactly have a good track record on the big screen. Batgirl made her first live-action feature film appearance in 1997's Batman & Robin, played by Alicia Silverstone. The character was changed from Commissioner Gordon's ambitious daughter to Alfred Pennyworth's clueless niece, and that adaptation choice did absolutely nothing to help the film that would effectively kill the Batman franchise until Christopher Nolan rebooted it in 2005.
More recently, the character was at the center of plenty of controversy over her use in the animated adaptation of the graphic novel Batman: The Killing Joke, which not only depicted her infamous paralyzing at the hands of the Joker, but also added in a gratuitous sex scene between her and Batman that wasn't in the source material.
Furthermore, it's not like the DCEU has the most glowing track record at the moment. It's possible that Wonder Woman will start the process of turning things around for the franchise, but as it stands, Man Of Steel, Batman v. Superman, and Suicide Squad have all been ravaged by critics and audiences alike. By making Ben Affleck a major part of the Batgirl movie, Warner Bros. would be inextricably tying the Batgirl movie to the reputation and expectations of the larger DCEU. It would arguably be wiser to make her first film a standalone in the universe, so that it could attract audiences that are either unfamiliar with the DCEU mythology or were turned off by previous films in the franchise.
But finally, the biggest reason Batman shouldn't be in a Batgirl movie is simple: She doesn't need him. Over the years, Batgirl has had plenty of adventures that didn't involve the Caped Crusader; many of Batgirl's most beloved storylines involved her teaming up with other female heroes (Black Canary, Catwoman, Huntress) rather than scowl-y Bruce Wayne. The popular nine-issue saga Batgirl: Year One, published in 2003, even tweaked her origin story so that, rather than being inspired to become Batgirl by her admiration of Batman, Barbara Gordon was actually inspired by badass female crimefighter Black Canary — and only put on a bat costume to mock the Caped Crusader, who her controlling uncle had a working relationship with.
Knowing the studio sometimes throwing characters into movies together before they've been fully established on their own — like in Batman v. Superman — it won't be surprising if Affleck's Bruce Wayne is a major figure in Whedon's Batgirl movie. But hopefully, they'll surprise us all by giving their second female hero a chance to shine all on her own before relegating her to a supporting role to the franchise's more famous male heroes.