Joss, Whedon't want you to write AND direct Batgirl

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Apr 3, 2017

Hey, Joss Whedon, what's happening, man? I saw you on the street once getting a hot dog near Grand Central and we shared an elevator once after a show. Obviously those two events make us very close friends and so you should take it very seriously when I say that you should not be writing and directing Batgirl.

Okay, so first of all let me just back up and apologize for the title of this article. Here I am asking you for some restraint, meanwhile "Joss Whedon't" is maybe the least restraint I've ever exhibited in an article title, and that includes the time I wrote "Apocalypse and Mystique, on a marquee, C-H-O-K-I-N-G" so it's a high bar that was set.

But, Joss, despite the silliness, I am asking you to rise above and have the restraint to realize that, in the year of our lord 2017, a cisgender, hetero white dude in his 50s is not the ideal choice for heading up a Barbara Gordon movie.

I get it. You are you. Buffy. Black Widow. Batgirl would be a nice way to thrice out them B's, but wouldn't it be even better if you tossed the baton to a woman (maybe even a woman of color) to head up a project about Babs, who was only 18 when she first donned the Batgirl cape and cowl?

As a dude who values women having strong voices in positions of power in our media, I assume you are familiar with some 2016 statistics. But I think sometimes we could all use a refresher. Did you know, for instance, that only 7 percent of 2016's top-grossing films were directed by women? That's a 2 percent drop from 2015! Add to that this nugget: 35 percent of films in 2016 employed zero women in the positions of writer, producer, executive producer, editor and cinematographer. That's awful, right?! If only we could do something about that.

Joss, I believe we can do something, at least a little. I'm trying to do something right now by reaching out to you with Syfy Wire as my platform. That's the strength I can bring. And you, Joss, can bring the strength you've gained after decades of being one of the most well-respected producers of sci-fi, fantasy, horror and cape-and-tights content to help improve a woman's odds of having authorial control behind the camera, especially when it comes to stories about women.

Our editor-in-chief thought I should drop some names, so here are a few I think would direct a dope Batgirl movie: Karyn Kusama (Aeon Flux, The Invitation), Elizabeth Wood (White Girl), Kelly Fremon Craig (The Edge of Seventeen) and Ava DuVernary (Selma, A Wrinkle in Time). My personal pick, though, would be Lexi Alexander, who has directed a ton of superhero TV stuff like Arrow and Supergirl along with movies like Punisher: War Zone and Green Street Hooligans. Lexi is a former World Karate and Kickboxing Champion. The fight sequences in her Batgirl movie alone would be amazing.

Could I guarantee that any of these women would make a better Batgirl movie than you, Joss? No. I can't see the future, and I acknowledge that you are a talented creator. No doubt about that. But, Joss, I can tell you that every single one of these directors I named know a lot more about being a young woman. And I think, Joss, that both you and I have lived long enough to know that there are many days where you have to be a superhero to be a woman in this world.

Putting women's experience aside for a moment, I also want to address you and your experience with making films for big corporations and making TV for major networks. Maybe you don't need to be reminded of the dark times, but you do recall when Fox put the stranglehold on Dollhouse, right? You made a pilot, they didn't like the pilot, so they made you make a new pilot which you purposefully did a half-assed job of? Ringing some bells? They basically said "Make a procedural" and you said "Fine, you will get the most bland hour of television I can possibly make."

Follow-up: Do you remember Age of Ultron? I kind of do. It wasn't your best work, we both acknowledge this, and you did not cover up the fact that you were burned out from Marvel and ready to get out of that situation as quickly as you could. Again, it was that corporate stranglehold (and just a crazy volume of work, obviously) keeping you from making good art that drove you away.

Now compare that with Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along-Blog, Serenity and The Cabin in the Woods (ignore the release delay obviously) ... do you see the pattern emerging? Your strength is being able to work on your own and with people you decide on. Your weakness is having an invasive corporate entity to answer to.

Again, I know you probably already realize this, but Warner Bros and DC are very invasive towards their creators. Have you seen Suicide Squad? It's a mess and it is definitely not director David Ayer's fault. The obscene oversight, the over-editing, the favoring movie-trailer narrative over actual storycraft -- Warner Bros and DC have got some issues. But seeing as how Suicide Squad grossed $745 million, Warner doesn't see it that way. They think they got the formula on lock. So why would they treat you any different than Ayer? C'mon, man, you know they won't.

Dealing with that sort of nonsense is not your forte, Joss. But do you know who is good at placating over-controlling men, jumping through unnecessary hoops and finding ways of convincing men in power that they came with the idea you actually said you wanted in the first place?

Women.

Now, I don't want to say you can't be involved in Batgirl at all. Maybe you could be part of the script writing? You are an excellent script doctor. You could consult, too. Lots of ways you could take a step back but still help make sure this Batgirl movie is the best it can be.

Joss, man, you have good ideas and I think, left to your own, you would make a good Batgirl movie. But you won't be left alone and you sure won't ever be able to come at a Batgirl story from the experience that women writers and directors can provide from their real lives. According to the Internet you have not formally signed on the dotted line.

Don't.

Tell Warner Bros and DC that you'll help out, but that they need to be the change we need in this world, be an active participant in making sure women represent a higher percentage of roles in filmmaking in 2017 and beyond, and give the Batgirl reigns to a woman writer and director.

And just in case you decide to make the Batgirl movie anyway (I mean I watched you eat a hot dog, but just in case you still don't think we're close enough for you to consider my opinion here) please don't do that Gail Simone Batgirl story built around assault. That's a mistake. Like a big, "Black Widow thinks she's a monster because she can't get pregnant" kind of mistake. And cast Amandla Stenberg as Barbara Gordon. Those ideas are for free, you don't even need to credit me.

All right, drop the mic, that's the word. Peace from the northeast, Joss, I am out!