Another one bites. In the latest bit of bad news plaguing DC's cinematic universe, The Hollywood Reporter broke the news that Joss Whedon is leaving the solo Batgirl project he's been working on for nearly a year at the studio. What could possibly cause the man and sci-fi prodigy behind Firefly, Buffy, and the first two Avengers to leave such a high-profile project? The answer is shocking in that it apparently doesn't have to do with the usual creative differences that have plagued the studio.
“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 said to THR in a statement. “I’m grateful to [DC president] Geoff [Johns] and [Warners Picture Group president] Toby [Emmerich] and everyone who was so welcoming when I arrived, and so understanding when I … uh, is there a sexier word for ‘failed’?”
Whedon, who took over reshoots on last year's Justice League for Zack Snyder, was planning to write and direct Batgirl, but reportedly couldn't "crack the code" on what it should be about. Considering these issues, and the fact that Whedon, a 53-year-old white man, would have faced a ton of pressure to deliver a female-focused superhero movie in a post Wonder Woman-world, it seems he's opted to bow out altogether, instead of risk making a weak movie.
Whedon has a solid track record with strong female characters (the protagonists of Buffy and Dollhouse were both women), but reports of hypocritical behavior have led fans to have a more mixed opinion on the usual geek demigod.
Nevertheless, the news comes as a shock as there were no signs of Whedon grappling with plot-related issues. The last reports about Batgirl were back in late November, reassuring fans that he was still attached as writer-director. Whether this means the project is dead or just wanting for a new creative leader is still up in the air. Stories from last summer say Warner Bros. wasn't interested in making such a movie until Whedon pitched it, so his pet project might just evaporate with him.
Judging by Wonder Woman's success, it wouldn't be a far cry to see the studio offer a female director the chance to take control of the film and give Barbara Gordon her day in the sun or, given her vocation, night in the shadows.