Joss Whedon has exited Warner Bros.’ in-development Batgirl, and for honest reasons, according to THR. The acclaimed MCU director and creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer left the film after failing to write its script: “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 in a statement. THR sources say the director could not “crack the code of what a Batgirl movie should be.”
Whedon’s hopes a year ago were to bring Wonder Woman a female companion, but since then, Wonder Woman became a cultural phenomenon and box-office hit. That film, directed by Patty Jenkins, moved Whedon to realize that perhaps Batgirl should be directed by a woman. “In today’s cultural entertainment environment, a male filmmaker may have faced greater public scrutiny if he were to have tackled a movie with such feminist importance such as Batgirl or Wonder Woman, much like a white filmmaker would have seen backlash taking on the Black Panther movie,” pointed out industry sources cited by THR.
There were casting rumors back in the summer, with a couple names being thrown around for Batgirl’s titular role, but nothing was ever confirmed. Looks like they might be going back to square one now.
Whedon does have a very good relationship with Warner Bros., so the departure was met on good terms. They even brought him in to direct last year’s Justice League when Zach Snyder dropped out because of a family emergency. Referring to DC president Geoff Johns and Warner Bros. Picture Group president Toby Emmerich, Whedon said in his Batgirl statement, “I’m grateful to Geoff and Toby and everyone who was so welcoming when I arrived, and so understanding when I … uh, is there a sexier word for ‘failed’?”
Whedon has been a long-time pioneer in female-centric stories ever since creating Buffy. His television credits include creating Angel with David Boreanaz, Dollhouse with Eliza Dushku, Firefly with Nathan Fillion and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., while his film credits include writing and directing The Avengers and Serenity, writing The Cabin in the Woods and co-writing Toy Story. He received an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay for Toy Story in 1996.