By Tom Holste
Feb. 27, 2018
Last April, I reported that Joss Whedon, who directed two Avengers movies and also created Buffy the Vampire Slayer, had come on board a Batgirl movie project for Warner Bros.
But apparently, last week, to little fanfare, Whedon exited the project, as seen in this article by the Hollywood Reporter.
Whedon diplomatically cites an inability on his part to crack the story. Unnamed insiders suggest that a woman-centered superhero film directed by a man might face too much scrutiny these days (and, indeed, a leaked draft of his unproduced Wonder Woman script got eviscerated by the Internet last year).
But the one thing that no one is talking about, which seems to be a major piece of the puzzle here, is the Justice League fiasco. After the movie’s original director, Zack Snyder, left the project due to a family tragedy, Warner Bros. asked Whedon to step in and finish the film in time for its November release date. Unfortunately, the film opened to dreadful reviews and ended up performing weaker at the box office than any of the DC Extended Universe movies to date.
Even though Whedon is well known for giving fans what they like, and Snyder’s films have been, at best, divisive, many fans ironically blamed Whedon for the film being a mess, and have demanded for Warner Bros. to release a Zack Snyder cut of the film.
I haven’t seen the movie, but it seems more likely to me that Whedon simply wasn’t able to save the project by being brought in at such a late date. Part of the problem is that Warner Bros. hadn’t bothered to properly set up all the individual characters in their own movies before rushing out their big team movie. Another part of the problem was Warner’s insistence on a 2-hour time limit for the film, probably due to the box office disaster of the critically acclaimed but nearly 3-hour Blade Runner 2049. But without all the individual films for each character, there was too much setup that needed to be done in too truncated of a time frame.
Those asking for a Snyder cut of the film don’t seem to realize that no such cut exists; if the film had been far enough along for such a cut to exist, Warner Bros. wouldn’t have needed to call in another director. The DVD/Blu-ray release will hopefully have a bunch of extended/deleted scenes or possibly even an extended cut that might salvage the film.
At any rate, although no one has said it outright, I can’t help but think that Whedon and Warner Bros. just didn’t want to work together anymore after what happened with Justice League. So now, the future remains up in the air for both Batgirl (which wasn’t even greenlit until Whedon came on board, so does Warner Bros. keep going?) and for Whedon (who doesn’t have any projects lined up other than a return for a possibly final “season” of Buffy in the comics). It’ll be interesting to look back in another year or so and see what’s happening for both of them.