She saved Gotham. A lot.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator Joss Whedon will be writing, directing, and producing a big-screen Batgirl film, telling the solo story of the female super heroine.
The big question: which Batgirl? There have been many women behind the cowl.
Sources tell EW that this version will be Barbara Gordon, daughter of Commissioner Gordon, and the movie will use the DC Comics “New 52” version of the character as a starting point.
In that timeline, launched in 2011, Barbara Gordon has recovered from a paralyzing spinal injury notoriously inflicted on her by the Joker in the 1988 graphic novel The Killing Joke. In the earlier books, that damage confined her to a wheelchair and ended her flying, swinging, punching career as Batgirl — but she continued to fight the good fight under the name Oracle as a super-hacker.
The New 52 books feature her several years after the Joker attack, having recovered full mobility after experimental surgery, although she is still haunted by the near-death experience.
It’s unclear how much of that series, written by Gail Simone, will be incorporated into Whedon’s film, but sources tell EW the movie will follow Simone’s harder-edged storyline rather than the more comical, playful “Batgirl of Burnside” series that was rebooted in 2014, featuring the hero as a social-media obsessed student living in a hipster neighborhood of Gotham.
Variety‘s Dave McNary, who first reported the Whedon news, also said the movie would be shepherded by Warner Bros. chief content officer Toby Emmerich, and Jon Berg and Geoff Johns, who run DC Films.
Whedon, who just participated in EW’s reunion for his Buffy the Vampire Slayer series, has a long history in the comic book world. He started the Astonishing X-Men comic book series for Marvel in 2004, and then was hired in 2005 (and paid $2-3 million) by Warner Bros to write a Wonder Woman movie that they later abandoned.
Whedon has had a long history with female heroes as well. In 2006 he gave a speech about equality in which he pretended to interview himself and repeatedly asked a question he is often confronted with in real life. “Why do you write these strong female characters?”
His response: “Because you’re still asking me that question.”
Last year, Whedon put aside his movie and TV work to found a political Super PAC, spending the entire year — and more than a million dollars of his own money — to create a series of “Save the Day” political ads about the stakes of the presidential race.
Barbara Gordon’s history goes back even further, beginning in 1967 when she was introduced in Detective Comics #359. She owes her existence to William Dozier, executive producer of the campy 1960s Batman TV series, who asked DC to create a female counterpart for the Caped Crusader. DC editor and writer Julius Schwartz and artist and editor Carmine Infantino came up with Batgirl.
A previous Bat-Girl, introduced in 1961, was created as a love-interest for Robin, but bore little similarity to the heroine we know today. Over the years, the mantle of Batgirl has also been passed to the characters Cassandra Cain, a mute assassin; Stephanie Brown, who had previously been the first female Robin; and Helena Bertinelli, a.k.a. the Huntress, who clashed with Batman and was known for her brutality toward criminals.
For most fans, Barbara Gordon is the definitive Batgirl. She had a Ph.D. She was the chief librarian for Gotham City public library. She was the daughter of a lifelong crimefighter who became an ally to another who wore a mask and cape instead of a badge.
Now she’ll follow this summer’s Wonder Woman as only the second female hero to headline a DC movie.
Long live Batgirl.