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
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
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
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
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
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.