It has only been a few weeks since Joss Whedon was tapped to take on the Batgirl project as a director and already names of actresses are flying around the internet like a big swarm of…oh…you know the things…leathery wings? Ah never mind, it’ll come back to us. The Avengers director may well be the fan favourite to direct pretty much anything comic-related these days, but he recently hinted that when it comes to casting his Batgirl, he’s not necessarily going to go with the will of the crowd.
As always with a high-profile casting on the horizon, the fans have had their say with actress Emma Stone a firm favourite. With her recent Oscar win, we’re sure that Stone would be a pretty pleasing proposition for the studio as well. However, Whedon remains committed to casting the right actress in the role, not just the most popular.
At the red carpet debut of Guardians of the Galaxy 2, Whedon was asked what type of actress he saw in the role. At such an early stage in the production cycle, Whedon’s doing his best not to think about potential actresses. Instead, he is focussing on finding the character:
“I don’t have my eye on anybody. I feel like I’m creating this character, I’m gonna dialogue with her and then we’ll see who joins that later on… I doubt it will be a name. This is somewhere where you go and find Batgirl and then you cast her.”
His doubts that Batgirl would end up being played by an established Hollywood actress intrigue us. According to Whedon, although he is not against the idea of a Hollywood mainstay donning the mask, he will make sure that it’s the right fit that carries the day, not just the right face:
“I’m not against movie stars, they’re great, but you need somebody who’s going to be just right. And a situation like this, the name carries a lot of weight so it’s not as critical.”
It’s going to be a demanding role. Whedon’s Batgirl movie will supposedly draw on Batgirl as depicted in writer Gail Simone’s 2011 reboot, part of the controversial “New 52” DC comics continuity. In the reshuffled timeline, Barbara Gordon survives her attack from the Joker, recovers from her paralysis, but struggles to come to terms with the mental aftershocks from the episode.
The story sees her working to establish herself as a name to terrify Gotham’s underworld while wrestling with the lingering effects of psychological trauma. The storyline could be just what the DC cinematic universe needs; it embodies the darkness of tone that characterises Gotham-based exploits, but ultimately presents us with an uplifting story about empowerment and bravery in the face of our personal demons and overcoming self-imposed obstacles. It’s a potentially perfect antidote to a series of DC films that have, all too often, been all darkness with little depth.
We dearly hope that Whedon will stick to his guns, not allowing the studio to pressure him into casting an actress with the guaranteed audience pull of an established Hollywood face, instead opting for the actress who most embodies Barbara Gordon.