Just a few months after his DC debut with Justice League, Joss Whedon is leaving its cinematic universe. Whedon has confirmed he’s no longer writing or directing Batgirl, saying he “failed” to come up with a good story.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Whedon is stepping down from creating DC’s solo Batgirl film. Whedon’s involvement was announced back in March 2017, a few months before it was revealed that he was also doing reshoots on Justice League after Zack Snyder left the project. Since then, we hadn’t really heard much about Batgirl—which seemed surprising, considering it was touted as DC’s “second” female-led superhero film behind the critically and commercially acclaimed Wonder Woman. In a statement, Whedon said it’s because he couldn’t figure out what to make the movie about.
“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. “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?’”
Of course, this may not be the only reason that Whedon is—or should be—stepping aside. Beyond the less-than-stellar box office performance of Justice League, he’s been criticized for how he’s written his recent portrayals of female superheroes (most notably Black Widow in Avengers: Age of Ultron). THR notes:
Industry sources add that even as Whedon faced story issues, 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 if they were to take on the Black Panther movie.
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In August of 2017, Whedon’s ex-wife Kai Cole accused him of having multiple affairs, and that he used his self-purported feminism as the creator of works like Buffy the Vampire Slayer as a shield against criticism.
No word what is in store for Batgirl, but in a previous interview, Whedon discussed his plans for the movie, stating “I started getting obsessed with how a young woman could get hardcore enough to need to put on the cowl. Like, what’s her damage?” So we’re pretty fine with this.