In an announcement that doesn’t seem all that surprising really, Joss Whedon, the man who basically help run Phase 2 of Marvel Studios’ output, directed two of the biggest grossing superhero movies of all-time in Avengers and Age of Ultron, and came in to finish Justice League after Zack Snyder left the production, has stated today that he himself is exited a WB production.
About a year after he was hired to write and direct Barbara Gordon’s journey to becoming one of Gotham’s premiere crime-fighters, Whedon has stepped away with a pretty honest admission…he just couldn’t figure out how to crack the character:
“Batgirl is such an exciting project, and Warners/DC such collaborative and supportive partners, that it took me months to realize I really didn’t have a story,” Whedon told The Hollywood Reporter in a statement. Referring to DC president Geoff Johns and Warners Picture Group president Toby Emmerich, Whedon added, “I’m grateful to Geoff and Toby and everyone who was so welcoming when I arrived, and so understanding when I… uh, is there a sexier word for ‘failed’?”
This actually isn’t the first time Whedon has run into some difficulties in translating a DC character to the screen. Back in 2006, the Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator had been hired to draft a script for Wonder Woman – a decade before her big cinematic debut. It was, as Collider detailed last year, a pretty misguided attempt to bring that iconic character to life.
But with Batgirl, one has to wonder also how much the tepid reception to Justice League, which Whedon basically co-directed even if he wasn’t credited as such, has anything to do with his exit from this project. One wouldn’t blame either party for wanting divorce themselves from that debacle (again, a movie I like more than Batman v Superman, probably due to Whedon’s contributions), but a fresh start probably helps everyone.
According to The Tracking Board, the studio is moving forward with the Batgirl feature, now looking strictly at women filmmakers to take this character. It’s possible Hollywood is finally learning a lesson for once with the success of both Wonder Woman and Black Panther. Representation matters, both in front of and behind the camera. And there’s no shortage of talented directors that could slot into that position.
This is very good news for all involved.
For those keeping track at home, the DC-based movies we know are coming out for sure are:
- December’s Aquaman which is in post-production, and even screened for test audiences already apparently
- Shazam!, which has begun filming, and you should expect a costume reveal very, very soon
- A sequel to Wonder Woman is a certainty, and is deep in pre-production
- Matt Reeves’ Batman feature is also in an earlier pre-production phase, but I’d expect to hear more soon
- Gavin O’Connor is set to direct Suicide Squad 2
And then we have a few more projects in the realm of possibility:
- Game Night’s John Francis Daley and Jonathan M. Goldstein are in negotiations to take over Flashpoint
- Todd Phillips is set to direct the Joker origin movie that may or may not star Joaquin Phoenix
- Gareth Evans was reported to be directing a Deathstroke film starring Joe Manganiello
- And Chris McKay is signed up to direct a Nightwing feature
There are a few other productions that may get announced with filmmakers attached, such as Green Lantern Corps, which David Goyer is attached to and/or Cyborg or that long-awaited sequel to Man of Steel that people are clamoring for. But it’s a pretty stuffed lineup of half-starts, hopefully SDCC will provide some serious clarification during their big Hall H presentation on Saturday morning.