As you may have heard last week, writer-director Joss Whedon has left the DCEU’s BATGIRL film. He claims that he, “really didn’t have a story,” although this may be a cover-up for the actual reason. Maybe Whedon doesn’t want to be a part of another potential DCEU flop like JUSTICE LEAGUE.

Or, maybe he finds writing a woman character too difficult. Whatever the case, a more suitable writer (hopefully, a woman) will replace him. But until then, here are 5 BATGIRL film storylines (originating from the comics) that prove how lame Whedon’s excuse is.

BATGIRL film
Courtesy of Cartoon Network

But First… A Quick Background!

The character intended for the upcoming BATGIRL film is the Barbara Gordon version: daughter of police commissioner James Gordon. Don’t confuse this with the early Betty Kane version of Bat-Girl, who is Batwoman’s niece. Barbara Gordon’s Batgirl first appeared in 1967: a few years after writers ditched the Kane version of the character.

Why I Love: Barbara Gordon

Barbara Gordon is the head of the Gotham City public library, holding a Ph.D. in library science. She continues to fight crime even though Batman advises against it (due to her gender). DC even highlighted, in a response to fans, how different the new Batgirl would be from her earlier counterpart. Barbara Gordon’s Batgirl is a capable superhero. Unlike Batwoman, who served solely as a romantic interest for Batman and constantly played the damsel in distress.

1. A Rise to Power

Villain: Killer Moth

Plot: While working as head of the Gotham City library, Barbara notices Drury Walker checking out books about moths. Walker (disguised as Killer Moth) then crashes a police department panel and threatens to kill Commissioner Gordon. Killer Moth’s accomplices distract Batman on the other side of town, rendering him unable to save Gordon.

Barbara takes action, putting on the sample Batman suit brought to the meeting for panel discussion purposes. Looking for an escape once this ruins his plans, Moth throws Gordon off the building rafters. Barbara successfully saves Gordon, but Moth gets away.

Batgirl learns how to harness the powers of her suit, eventually apprehending Killer Moth and proving he is Drury Walker. Her rise to power culminates in ditching a costume ball to save Bruce Wayne from Killer Moth’s new ‘cocoon gun.’

DCEU Outlook: Since J.K Simmons looks forward to playing Commissioner Gordon again post-JUSTICE LEAGUE, this BATGIRL film would give him an opportunity to really inhabit his character. Ben Affleck’s contract as Batman is technically up after one more movie… but what if he just made a brief cameo at the end when Barbara saves him from the Moth?

This movie could work into the DCEU as a good father-daughter exploration. In addition, it wouldn’t rely too heavily on preexisting actors/actresses in the DCEU. But most importantly, it would highlight Barbara’s ‘rise to power’ as Batgirl. She learns to control her powers and also struggles to keep her identity under wraps.

BATGIRL film
Courtesy of DC Comics

2. Identity Crisis: Batgirl or Politics?

Villain: Madame Zodiac

Plot: In a more Barbara-esque film, Barbara Gordon is already established as Batgirl in Gotham. She dates Jason Bard, a former military man turned private eye, who works with her father at the GCPD. Barbara helps an old love interest of hers gain parole, believing he deserves a second chance.

But when he immediately reverts back to criminal life, Barbara feels she is no longer suitable to be Batgirl. She leaves Jason behind and moves to Washington D.C. to become involved in politics. But before doing so, she confirms Commissioner Gordon’s suspicions that his daughter is Batgirl.

Now in D.C., Madame Zodiac breaks into the Pentagon in order to gain enhanced mystical powers. This forces Batgirl to reprise her superhero abilities to arrest her. At the end of the film, Barbara redeems herself and decides to return home to Jason and her father.

DCEU Outlook: Besides the fact that the villain could (maybe) be better, this plot checks off a lot of boxes. Firstly, this plot doesn’t define Batgirl in terms of Batman at all. This is extremely important when we talk about women in comics and their movie depictions.

Not to mention, Ben Affleck’s contract would not be a conflict of interest in the making of the film. Secondly, a Congresswoman directly involved in politics is such an out-of-the-box concept for a superhero film. It’d be topical, being that we’re living in an age of heightened political stress. Finally, this BATGIRL film encompasses what it means to be a strong woman despite the cards being stacked against you.

Should Comics Do Politics?

3. Origin Story / Supergirl Team-Up

Villain: Livewire

Plot: At this point, both Batgirl and Livewire are established characters. The film would run two parallel timelines: the current one with Livewire, and a Batgirl origin story. The origin story would show Barbara Gordon essentially becoming Batgirl. She’d learn martial arts as a child, and become a star-athlete who’s eligible to skip grades.

The marker in-between Barbara’s origin story and Livewire’s story is when Barbara attends a blind date with Clark Kent. Pre-Lois Lane, of course. The two become platonic, and they know about each others’ powers. The film ends in present-day Gotham City, where Livewire escapes prison transportation and Batgirl must stop her.

Livewire nearly electrocutes Batgirl, but then Supergirl comes to her aide. She is sent in by Batgirl’s compadre, Superman. Together, they defeat Livewire and return her to Metropolis prison.

DCEU Outlook: An origin story would allow us to connect with Barbara Gordon’s character more personally than other aforementioned plots. And like previous potential plots, this movie wouldn’t need a Batman to cast, maintaining independence for our heroine. There are two notable intriguing elements to this idea.

(1) The villain would be much more likable/popular than the others. And (2) It’d introduce a film version of Supergirl to the DCEU. I don’t like the idea of Batgirl needing help since this would be her debut film. But if Batgirl pulls most of the weight in the BATGIRL film, introducing two new female heroines would rock. After all, two is better than one!

BATGIRL film
Batgirl and Supergirl, Courtesy of DC Comics

4. Batwoman Reprise, a ‘Passing of the Torch’

Villain: The Cavalier, Killer Moth

Plot: A rich former friend of Bruce Wayne’s, the Cavalier, teams up with Killer Moth to wreak havoc in Gotham. This causes Batman’s old love interest, Batwoman, to come out of retirement to stop them. Little does she know, amateur superhero Batgirl has been busting smaller criminals and is available to help.

Before this, we see Barbara Gordon in her daily life, which includes a romance with Dick Grayson (a.k.a., Nightwing). Batgirl ultimately saves Batwoman’s life in the fight. After defeating Cavalier and Killer Moth, Batwoman would ‘pass the torch’ to Batgirl. It’s now her responsibility to protect Gotham.

DCEU Outlook: A plot like this might lack somewhat in the exploration of Batgirl’s character/origin. However, I think this would be the ideal film to open up doors for future installments in the DCEU. It would allow for Batwoman to be redeemed from the ‘damsel in distress’ she is in the comics.

And it’d also show a clear transfer of authority to our new hero, Batgirl. I like the idea that Nightwing is present without being needed physically, too. This would send a message that directly counteracts Batwoman’s previous comic book history. It’d do this by saying, “the women are fine on their own.”

Plus, the film could then lead up to a Nightwing solo film.

BATGIRL film
Batgirl and Batwoman, Courtesy of DC Comics

5. Controversial Stories: Pick-and-Choose

These four storylines would lend themselves well to the BATGIRL film. They depict Batgirl and Barbara Gordon in a positive light: intelligent, independent, and not in need of a man’s rescuing. However, Batgirl’s history includes some not-so-positive story elements, too. I didn’t think any of them would be appropriate for the BATGIRL film. But maybe someone else could find a positive way to incorporate them.

In the Killing Joke comics, the Joker shoots Barbara. He wants to prove to Batman that even good people like Commissioner Gordon can become morally corrupt. This comic had mixed reviews. Despite its success, critics said this was a classic, “Women in Refrigerators,” example. The term refers to women being used as a plot device, whether they are killed, mutilated, or disabled. For one, we’ve already seen the Joker turn a good person bad (in THE DARK KNIGHT). So this premise wouldn’t be enough.

BATGIRL film
Courtesy of DC Comics

Secondly, Batgirl cannot solely be a plot device. Maybe if someone writes a BATGIRL film post-Killing Joke, it could follow Barbara on her road to recovery. Now that would be an interesting, strong, women-promoting film. Additionally, she’d join the list of heroes (like Professor X) who defy odds in light of their paraplegic status.

Another plot that could somehow be modified involves Barbara while she pursues her Ph.D. in college. This comic was criticized for having a trans-resembling villain, Dagger Type, portrayed in a negative light. And while this is a valid argument, maybe certain pieces of the comic could be chosen from. What can we use from the comic that would allow us to depict transgender men and women positively? Could the college aspect of Barbara’s past be explored?

5. Bonus: BATGIRL Film Sequel?

If for some reason the BATGIRL writers do include the Joker paralyzing her, could she become Oracle in a sequel? Barbara Gordon refuses to let her disability to get the best of her in the comics. As a result, she delves into computer science and renames herself Oracle. With her ever-present intellect, Oracle offers technological aid to law enforcement organizations. She does this by way of her computer setup, which was funded by the Wayne Foundation.

BATGIRL film
Courtesy of Cartoon Network

A skillful hacker with a photographic memory, Oracle would make an interesting sequel to the BATGIRL film. For now, I still believe the four aforementioned plots would best establish Barbara Gordon’s character in the DCEU. Whatever the case, let’s keep our fingers crossed for women writers/directors to replace Whedon on the project.

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