In a different time, it would have been a cause for celebration to find out that Joss Whedon (creator of beloved female-centered properties such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer) was writing and directing the solo movie for Batgirl. It also would have been a tragedy to hear the news that he was leaving the project. It’s a sign of how much things have changed that the fans dreaded the former and celebrated the latter. Here are
three five reasons why.
1. Joss Whedon Isn’t a Feminist
One of the biggest changes in recent years has been to Whedon’s reputation. When he created Buffy, strong female characters were rare and he honestly broke new ground. The problem is that, while the media evolved, he hasn’t. What seems bold and edgy in the 1990s looks positively backward today. His love of thin, white women now outweighs the fact that he made them warriors. In other words, Buffy doesn’t hold up too well.
Then there’s the revelation of his rampant cheating on his wife which shattered his reputation. Batgirl didn’t need that baggage.
2. Whedon Almost Ruined Wonder Woman
There’s also been a realization that Whedon’s attempts to create another female-led superhero movie Wonder Woman would have ended in disaster. He wrote a script in 2006 that came out in 2017 and broke women’s hearts for its sexism and male-oriented slant. His exit from Batgirl shows he would have been no better at handling her than the Amazon princess.
3. Men Shouldn’t Direct Female-Led Movies
That leads us to the other point, which is that we now expect more from Hollywood. It’s become abundantly clear from Wonder Woman and Black Panther that diverse movies need to be written and directed by diverse people. Watching Wonder Woman was a revelation for the way it portrayed women as strong warriors without losing their femininity, and it’s impossible to imagine a man handling it the same way.
Likewise, Black Panther showed Africans in a way that no movie ever has (superhero or otherwise): as strong, complex and powerful beings without the need for a white savior. There’s no way any white writer or director would have shown Wakanda with the depth it had. They both succeeded because the studio allowed women to write and direct Wonder Woman, and African-Americans to write and direct Black Panther.
4. Batgirl is Special
In many ways, Batgirl is a more delicate character to handle than Wonder Woman. Since she was introduced in 1961, Batgirl doesn’t have the decades of history that WW has. She also has always been seen as the “female Batman” instead of a character all her own. In comics, movies and TV shows, Batgirl has been shown as everything from a strong, confident young woman in the 1960s Batman TV show to a hyperactive teenage girl in Super Best Friends Forever. By giving her a movie of her own, Batgirl’s identity will be fixed in minds of moviegoers going forward. She deserves the best treatment to make her a star, and this can’t be something thrown together by some random guy.
5. Women Directors Are Demanded
Women are growing in power, both in front of and behind the camera in Hollywood. The success of Patty Jenkins writing and directing Wonder Woman put a nail in the coffin of the idea that women can’t make blockbusters. At this point with diverse voices growing in social media, there’s no way the studio would get away with anything other than a woman directing Batgirl and that’s the way it should be.
What do you think about Whedon leaving Batgirl?