Although he claimed that he "really didn't have a story" as his reason for exiting as writer and director on the Batgirl movie, it seems Joss Whedon did in fact have one — and it was the original Batgirl tale.
According to Variety, the movie that Whedon was recruited to make last year was going to be based on "The Million Dollar Debut of Batgirl," the 1967 story by writer Gardner Fox and artist Carmine Infantino that introduced Barbara Gordon, the daughter of police commissioner James Gordon, as the crime-fighting Batgirl.
While a character named Betty Kane used the name Bat-Girl in the comics during the early 1960s, she was the niece of the original Batwoman and had nothing to do with the much better known Batgirl, who was first conceived later that decade.
Barbara Gordon/Batgirl was created when William Dozier, the producer of the then-popular Batman TV series, asked DC editor Julius Schwartz to develop a female character who could be transferred to the show. Barbara made her print debut in January 1967's Detective Comics #359, with Yvonne Craig premiering in the role just eight months later, in the TV show's third season opener.
In "The Million Dollar Debut of Batgirl," Barbara, a librarian, designs a Batgirl costume to wear to a party and ends up helping the Dynamic Duo as they battle the villainous Killer Moth. Subsequent adventures would find Barbara inspired to continue solving crimes as Batgirl, both alone and in tandem with Batman and Robin (as with all superheroes, her life became way more complicated in the ensuing decades for us to get into here).
It's unknown how much of that first story Whedon actually planned to use, although it's likely that the more obscure Killer Moth would have been jettisoned while some of the traditional elements of the Batgirl character would have been retained.
Whether Whedon couldn't make the story work for the big screen — or DC parent company Warner Bros. was more interested in finding a female director, as Variety also reported — the fate of the Batgirl movie remains up in the air for now. If the project stays alive, a new director and writer could take Batgirl in a different direction altogether.
The situation continues to reflect the volatile development process for Warner Bros.' universe of DC films: Only the nearly finished Aquaman, the now-filming Shazam!, and the soon-to-start-production Wonder Woman 2 are definitely slated for release, while titles like The Batman, Flashpoint, Green Lantern Corps, Man of Steel 2, and Justice League 2 are all in various states of development (or dysfunction).
Which direction would you like to see a Batgirl movie take? Should the film stick to the character's traditional origins or head down a different path?