the cancellation of the DC superhero movie is just his latest misfortune

Are they really canceling Batgirl? Who does that, given the troubled history of Barbara Gordon’s Gotham vigilante in the comics and on the big screen?

These are the questions DC fans will be asking this week after it was reported that Warner Bros. is refusing to release a near-complete film from Ms Marvel directors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah, and with Leslie Grace in the title role. , despite the movie. be in post-production. Apparently it’s all part of a huge tax write down.

Huh, really? This is the same superhero who was paralyzed and (almost certainly) raped in the comics, and whose only big screen appearances have been bland and underwritten (Alicia Silverstone in 1997’s execrable Batman and Robin), or semi-apologetic. Remember Rosario Dawson’s Gordon response to the caped crusader in The Lego Batman Movie when he labels her “Batgirl”? Yes, it’s “Can I call you Batboy?”

Then there was the controversy surrounding the terrifying 2016 animated version of Alan Moore’s iconic but deeply suspect 1988 graphic novel The Killing Joke. Not content with adapting a comic book known for its infamous depiction of the Joker shooting and paralyzing Gordon, the film added a 30-minute misogynistic opening in which Batgirl is taught by Batman for her superhero flaws, has impulsive sex with him, and basically irritates. every trope you can think of to suggest that women should leave crime fighting to men.

Warner may also want to keep the history of women in comic book movies in mind, because the optics of this decision are terrible. Until quite recently, studios were wary of putting a woman’s name in a superhero movie, thanks in large part to the famously terrible box office and critical comeback of 2004’s Catwoman, starring Halle Berry. Never mind that it has nothing to do with the comic book sneak thief invented by Bill Finger and Bob Kane (Berry plays Patience Phillips instead of Selina Kyle), and was made by someone, French director Pitof, with no previous Hollywood experience. There hasn’t been another DC movie on the big screen with a female superhero as the title character until Wonder Woman in 2017.

New terrain… Leslie Grace, center, and Ivory Aquino, right, on the Batgirl set in Glasgow in January 2022. Photography: Ewan Bootman/Rex/Shutterstock

Most disturbing is that Batgirl was experiencing a headline renaissance in comics in the early 2010s when Gail Simone’s nuanced modern run introduced a version of the character that takes survivor guilt and PTSD after her recovery from the injuries inflicted. about her by the Joker after an experimental surgery in South Africa. Some fans were concerned about Gordon’s return to the Batgirl persona – she was known as Oracle during her time in a wheelchair and took on more of a secondary role as an information broker for the superhero community – effectively removing one of the rare DC’s disabled. characters. However, the race was incredibly popular and broke new ground. It even featured one of the first major transgender characters in mainstream comics: Barbara’s friend Alysia Yeoh, who was supposed to be portrayed by Ivory Aquino on the big screen.

We’ll likely never know if the abandoned film was canned for being terrible – as the studio’s suits were clearly told the Hollywood Reporter – or simply became the hapless victim of a new regime at Warner Bros. will only serve to increase the clamor for the studio to finally get Batgirl right.

Simone revealed in 2021 that during her time writing the comics, DC powers refused to allow the superhero his own secret superhero base – despite being a staple of many DC costumed titans. Along with all the other struggles Gordon has faced over his five decades in the spotlight, it’s starting to feel like there just isn’t the trust in Batgirl needed for her to truly thrive amidst a slate full of superheroes. This is devastating for longtime fans of the character. Sadly, only DC and Warner Bros are in a position to explain why the superheroine never gets her moment to fight through the streets of Gotham.

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