Dear DCEU: Give Us These 5 Things In Mr. Whedon’s ‘Batgirl’ Movie

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Joss Whedon’s Batgirl movie announcement has hit the internet hard this week with his interview in US Magazine. I am a BIG Whedon fan. Big. Huge. Ginormous might even explain it. Let’s put it this way, I have the Slayer Scythe tattooed on my arm.

Now, the other half of this is that Batgirl is possibly one of my favorite characters ever. When I rejoined the comics world in my 30’s, Gail Simone’s Batgirl was my gateway drug. I consumed the book, breathed the book, lived the book. See the tattoo comment above? Ms. Simone’s Batgirl run is the reason that the Batgirl insignia is tattooed near the Slayer Scythe.

Now that we’ve established my crazy tattoo fangirliness, let’s talk about what Whedon’s Batgirl movie needs to have.

5. Crazy Computer Programming Skillz

Whedon's Batgirl Movie

Barbara Gordon as Oracle was the only positive outcome of her paraplegia in The Killing Joke. Women have made strides in the sciences, but they still trail men in computer science by a large margin. Ensuring that a movie Batgirl represents the computer genius Babs means that a generation of young women see a nontraditional strong female character. Female superhero characters tend to fall into the “strong female character” trope making them strong only physically. People (yes, men too) need to see that strong female character means depth. It means being able to be smart and funny and physically strong and emotionally invested. Give us a computer science Babs in Whedon’s Batgirl movie! Please!

4. Babs Tarr’s Batgirl Suit Design

Whedon's Batgirl Movie

I loved the Babs Tarr Batgirl suit design. Mr. Whedon’s Batgirl movie needs something just as functional. Look, I get it, the whole Batgirl of Burnside run had some issues. However, let’s throw it out there that whether you loved the color schema or not, that suit is possibly one of the most functional female heroine suits I’ve ever seen. Honestly, I’ve thought about cosplaying that design since it came out. Any version of my favorite superhero wearing Doc Martens-esque boots is going to be a Major Win in my world. Remove the shoes (although, shoes are important), and the rest of the outfit still gets my feminist self all happy. It feminizes Batgirl without sexualizing her. In the MCU, the female characters often remain sexualized side-notes. I want a feminine Batgirl who kicks ass, takes no prisoners, doesn’t wear irresponsible shoes, and doesn’t have to flash boobs at all the male characters to appeal to the male gaze.

3. A Female Antagonist

Whedon's Batgirl Movie

I could say that I want a male antagonist so that we can show a woman smashing the patriarchy. Sure, that could be cool. However, I’d really love to see two amazing women go head-to-head in a movie. Honestly, if we want a truly feminist superhero movie with one of the most recognized female characters? I want to shatter the Bechdel-Wallace Test into a million pieces. Since news of Mr. Whedon’s Batgirl movie broke a few weeks ago, women across the internet heaved a collective “sigh” over another female protagonist movie being run entirely by a man. As much as Mr. Whedon stands as a feminist, fans have also derided his title of “feminist male writer.” The internet is basically just full of angry people. One thing is true, if a man is going to both write and direct a movie about a woman in the modern-day, then he had better make sure to get the voice right. Doing this means ensuring that the story doesn’t fall back on the same boring tropes of tiny girl overcoming big strong manly man. Let’s see two strong women duke it out over something that has absolutely nothing to do with a man. Let’s see Harley Quinn (since the current comic run is ah-maz-ing) or Poison Ivy or Catwoman or Raven.

2. Intersectional Feminism

Whedon's Batgirl Movie

Vixen may be a lesser known DC heroine, but she’s also a person of color. One of the problems women have with Mr. Whedon writing Batgirl is that once again a man is getting the opportunity to write our stories. Hell, a white man is getting to write our stories. Triple hell, a white straight man is getting to write a story about a white female superhero. I’m not blaming Whedon for being a white man or DC for choosing him; after all, I’d probably watch a Whedon character talk about mud puddles for two hours. I am, however, going to say loud and proud that we need some intersectional representation in this movie. Barbara Gordon is a redhead, but that doesn’t mean that she has to be a white girl. Black women can rock the red. Hispanic ladies rock the red. Asian women can rock the red. If you’re going to fanboy me about red hair and Babs, you just got pwned. Hell, why do we even need a white woman in this movie? Whedon’s Batgirl movie could give us a black Babs, a Hispanic Catwoman, and an Asian friend of Babs.

1. Bring Back Alysia Yeoh

Whedon's Batgirl Movie

Intersectionality means more than just giving us a cast consisting of people of color. During Gail Simone’s run on Batgirl, Barbara’s best friend and roommate was a trans woman named Alysia Yeoh. Erasure of Alysia in the early issues of Batgirl of Burnside brought disappointment to many fans. However, the Fletcher and Stewart team not only brought her back, they married her off.  Female identified comics fans want more than just traditional white cisgendered women. We want to see all versions of our femmegeek feminine selves up on those screens and in those books. Give us Alysia Yeoh in Whedon’s Batgirl movie.

Marvel let us down with their Captain Marvel directing choices by just having to add a man to the mix. Now we’re disappointed again, at least in part, with a cis-hetero-white-male director for Batgirl. Please, Mr. Whedon, show the haters they’re wrong. Give us the Batgirl we need, want, and deserve.

Karen Walsh
Karen Walsh is a part time, extended contract, first year writing instructor at the University of Hartford. In other words, she's SuperAdjunct, complete with capes and Jedi robe worn during grading. When Karen isn't teaching, she is a freelance writer who works for a variety of marketing clients focusing on a variety of topics, including InfoSec and parenting. Her geeky and parenting writing can be found at GeekMom. She works in order to support knitting, comics, tattoo, and museum membership addictions. She has one dog, one husband, and one son who all live with her just outside of Hartford, CT. She can be reached on Twitter: @kvonhard and on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GeekyKaren/

12 COMMENTS

  1. For what it’s worth, since I’m the person who looks to academia for answers. I think that, if we’re being realistic, the answer lies in the psychological and social research. Representation matters because it impacts individuals’ self-esteem and self-identity.

    “This paper provides a commentary regarding the quantitative content analyses of gender roles in media published in the two special issues of Sex Roles (Rudy et al. 2010a, 2011). A few themes and some overarching lessons emerge from the wide variety of data presented. First, it is clear that women are under-represented across a range of media and settings. Second, when women are portrayed, it is often in a circumscribed and negative manner. Women are often sexualized—typically by showing them in scanty or provocative clothing. Women are also subordinated in various ways, as indicated by their facial expressions, body positions, and other factors. Finally, they are shown in traditionally feminine (i.e., stereotyped) roles. Women are portrayed as nonprofessionals, homemakers, wives or parents, and sexual gatekeepers. Although the studies generally support these conclusions, some interesting moderating factors are identified, such as race. It is suggested that next steps involve the development of theory and a body of empirical evidence regarding the effects of exposure to under-representation of women. Data concerning the effects of exposure to sexualized or stereotypical portrayals on young audiences is also lacking. Finally, content analyses of new media, including those created and distributed by users, are recommended as a next step. It is concluded that, while increasing the representation of women in media may be valuable, it is also critical that the manner in which they are portrayed be simultaneously considered to avoid increasing negative or stereotypical depictions that may be particularly harmful to viewers.”
    https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11199-010-9929-5

  2. Leave your politics out of this movie. It’s a female character who happens to be a lead in the movie. Doesn’t need ruined by lefty polticts and feminism. The only (years later like late 90s) did batgirl ever get “political”. Can we stop with the hate of the white male, males in general, and pretending like it’s a outrage a woman isn’t directing a movie…. WHY does a woman need to direct? It makes no sense. What does a woman bring besides possibly lefty politics? Nothing more or less a man does. Finally this is what is destroying lefty companies like ESPN. Politics! Keep them out of comics, video games, and sports! It’s all we have to get away from that crap!

    • I’m not sure if you know this or not, but comic books are a reflection of our society at a given time. Politics have been and will always be an influence on comic books and pop culture.

      As far as ESPN, they are not failing because of ‘lefty politics.’ They are losing money because they spend $6 billion a year rights fees. $1.9 billion a year to the NFL for Monday Night Football, $1.47 billion to the NBA, $700 million to Major League Baseball, $608 million for the College Football Playoff, $225 million to the ACC, $190 million to the Big Ten, $120 million a year to the Big 12, $125 million a year to the PAC 12, and hundreds of millions more to the SEC.

      I’m sorry, but you’re going to need to get out of your bubble and experience the world.

      PS. ‘Point Break’ was directed by a woman.

      • No. They have lost a lot of subscribers, viewers and fired people for different points of view. And becuase people got tired of trying to get away from politicical matters, and ESPN was in your face with whatever Ill informed matter that was in the news cycle. There was NO diversity. Any conservative (there was like 3) who worked there was fired for having such views. Your biased opinions don’t mattter here. The other part of their diemise is the digital media age we live in.

        Comics may be influenced in certain ways by our culture. But never has there been a time where it would be a “good idea” to change a popular character into a male or female that was already the opposite gender. Never was there a time where turning captain America gay to please a minority was seriously debated. These are the kinda things that turn off the average person from reading comics. Espically just in the name of PC culture, and pleasing a crowd that’s not even a 3 percent reader percentage of comics. This is why Marvel is having its lowest subscribers in digital and in phycial copies. Nobody want their fav comic character changed for the sake of being PC. Make a new character. Don’t change one of the classics?!? It’s not in your nature I’m sure to see these things as deals. I’m sure, but this is how millions of people think In this country. This biased retheroic and culture views are getting quite old. And people are boycotting. This push for SJW bull in comics may be something
        You think is great. But 99 percent of your audience doesn’t think so. There’s people who don’t even read Marvel now. And are strictly DC. The new 52 besides with Harley is pretty clean from today’s issues. And Quinn has always been attracted to both males and females. Comics can be a way to get away from the real world, and can take your mind off of what’s going on. So can sports. But if progressive liberals have their way. It won’t be much longer. But on the original topic of bat girl, id suggest if he wants a good movie, and to actually make a killing off of it.
        Making her a third wave feminist, and everyone else afraid of her, instead of her overcoming advirsty like HER ACTUAL STORY is. The movie will flop hardcore. I’m upset, becuase she’s one of mi fav charaters. And people like you are going to make this movie about PC feminist stuff. Instead of about her. Yes, you won’t be directing it, or writing the stuff. But these articles could def influence his directing for the movie.

        • “It’s a female character who happens to be a lead in the movie. Doesn’t need ruined by lefty polticts and feminism.”
          False: female characters cannot be RUINED by feminism. We are defined by it.

          “Can we stop with the hate of the white male, males in general, and pretending like it’s a outrage a woman isn’t directing a movie….”
          It is not the white male himself that we rally against, but his monoply on creating art, even when that art is female-centric and would benefit from a woman’s point of view.

          “WHY does a woman need to direct? It makes no sense.”
          Because people are still asking this question.

          “What does a woman bring besides possibly lefty politics? Nothing more or less a man does.”
          False. I repeat: A woman brings the perspective of a woman. Remember when a woman’s perspective saved “Mad Max: Fury Road”, by admission of the screenwriter himself? Tell me you don’t hate Mad Max. Tell me you understand there are a TON of politics in that film. And in Harry Potter. And Star Wars. And Zootopia. And….I don’t think I need to go on.

    • Sadly you’ve missed the whole point of both comics and what Joss represents. You’ve also largely missed the point of what thos well written article is about. So I’ll break it down for you.

      1. Politics and comics go together. I don’t know you, but from your comments I’m going to (rightly or wrongly) assume you are a straight male. I’m not. I’m a gay guy, who for years and years read X-Men. Which is easily read as a gay coded comic. Or at the very least gay under tones. Even the terrible movies got that part right. “Have you tried not being a mutant?” However that could also be MY interpretation as a gay guy.
      Captain America fought Nazi’s.
      Wonder Woman once liberated a POW camp full of women who were being used as sex slaves.
      Animal Man was used to tackle Animal Rights.
      Politics and comics have a very long history of being connected. Just because you don’t like it, relate to it or need it doesn’t mean its not true.

      2. Whilst I personally think that Joss is a brilliant director and in my opinion he is the ideal director for this movie. I can fully understand why women would want a female director. As men we will never understand things from a female point of view. Im a MASSIVE Wonder Woman fan and even I wanted a female director because simply put, a female director will be less inclined to lean towards overly sexualising the character. Also I wouldn’t say asking for a female director is a bad thing. A female director might understand the character in a way that male readers might not.

      3. Escapism in comics, sports and video games is great. But surely that escapism should be for everyone?

      • Yes ignorance is bliss I can see. The escape is for everyone if it’s politically free no? And those two have never been this politically tied and influenced. Never. Just because you agree on those issues do not make them just in doing these things. Males are your audience hun. Girls go with boyfriends or the few that go to the movies, most don’t even know the character or it’s history. Wonder Woman is already a “mess” from what I hear. I don’t see how a woman wouldn’t of, or would have helped. If they hired a woman from the start? Great! But they didn’t. Oversexulizing is even in my view too much if it takes away from the character. It usually does. But that’s not as well why Wonder Woman isn’t going to be that good. People will see
        It. But it’s going to be another DC flick that flops with readers. Yes, you are apart of that few percentage of fans who are gay. Why not demand a new character? Instead of demanding change in already set characters? And on Cap, yes he battled with Natzi’s. He’s a Army based character and what else would you have wrote about than? And it’s patriotic? That’s great.

  3. Well, it is being based on Gail Simone’s Post Oracle New 52 Batgirl series so I think the main villain should definitely be Knightfall like it was in the series with Bonebreaker and Strix (who becomes a hero and joins the Birds of Prey) as the supporting villains. As for Alysia Gail has publicly said on Twitter she should be in it so there is a chance she could be.

  4. Vixen is a hero and has always been a hero even when she was a member of the Suicide Squad. She first appeared helping Superman and quickly joined the Justice League during the Detroit Era.

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