Is Joss Whedon BATGIRL Friendly?
In 2000 we entered a territory rife with slapstick humor, ridicule, and low expectations. It was the world of comic book movies that was trying to separate itself from the shambles of Dolph Lundgren’s The Punisher, Adam West’s Batman, and the laughable live action Spiderman movie of 1977. The X-Men movie of 2000 began a production of come to life comic story arcs that excited both the old and young fans of the Marvel Universe and of comic books period.
Fast forward to 2015 and we have seen the quality of these movies jump so far ahead that we are almost completely engrossed into the cinematic superhero world created with old comic issues as the blueprint. The road to this point has not been a smooth one, especially for Marvel Studios who has suffered some losses as directors routinely have found working with them to be an up-hill battle; one they often loss. This was no different for the director of both Avenger’s movies, Joss Whedon who has stated more times than not how filming them was a grueling experience filled with wearing the same clothes more than once and slacking on rest.
It was a feat for sure, directing a super powered movie with multiple stars and characters who all are interwoven, while keeping them interesting and part of the film. Yes, that can be a grueling experience, which I think he did an incredible job of. The movies were not without their flaws but overall they were how many of us saw the popular Marvel team being, well, with the exception of Black Widow.
After the film was released and the fans, or just moviegoers, got to see it there was some backlash about the back-story Black Widow was given. Here is this kick ass secret agent who could single handedly drop a Hydra faction and fight Captain America; she could basically kick any guys behind but was hiding a weakness, she couldn’t have kids. Many critics of the film saw this as a slap in the face of women.
I’m sure it could be compared to Trump’s campaign bashing of Hilary Clinton’s marital issues and “Nasty Woman” label he gave her during his successful run. Why did Joss Whedon weaken Black Widow by taking away one great thing of woman hood while showing her to be this powerful female? That is not the point of this piece, as I am now beginning to think about Wonder Woman and how she was written as well; I digress. This was one of many complaints about the portrayal of Whedon’s Black Widow, so when it was announced that the former creator and director of Buffy the vampire Slayer was now in the works with Warner Bros to produce, write, and direct Batgirl, there was an immediate fire set ablaze.
The Batgirl character is one of the few females of notable fan appeal and value in a male dominated universe of power and now the man who diminished Black Widow by some degree was going to get his hands on her. We have entered a new phase of comic book films where female characters now are the focus and not the tag along and the success of these movies is important for there to be more.
So what does this mean for Batgirl, the female counterpart of Batman, who still kicked butt and was equally brilliant? Well, it means that Joss Whedon has a clean slate to start with as there have never been a Batgirl or Batwoman movie before and what better time to do it as we are coming off a Presidential race that saw our first potential female President and as women have begun to speak up about women’s rights and protest the chauvinistic minds of male leadership.
Is he the right skipper for this voyage? That is where many arguments arise as Batgirl is…well…a female and here we have a man directing, no more than directing, but telling the story of a female heroine. Were there no female directors who could have d/one a great job on this? It is not as if Hollywood doesn’t have any, though I’m sure the Oscars would have you believe otherwise.
The pool of directors in the cinematic world is male dominated, as many things are, and it would seem finding the right director might have already happened when Warner Bros. pulled Patty Jenkins to direct Wonder Woman but we should also keep in mind, at least by the reports, this is a story that Whedon brought to Warner not vice versa, so it seems only right that if this was his idea that he be the one to direct it.
As much as I would like to anticipate some watered down and weakened version of Batgirl, I am open to what Whedon will make in this stand alone film that will not be tied down by continuity or connection to the other DCU characters. This is a chance at redemption for his questionable reflection of Black Widow.