Joss Whedon has officially announced that he has stepped down from the Warner Bros. and DC stand-alone movie Batgirl, Deadline reports. He had joined the project last March and had signed on to write, direct, and produce the movie. Whedon, who wrote and directed Marvel’s both The Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron, admitted in a statement released today that he just didn’t have an idea for the movie, and just plan “failed.” At least he’s honest.
“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 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 is no stranger to superhero movies, whether it's DC or Marvel. Besides doing the first two Avengers movies, Whedon also co-wrote the script for and ended up directing last year’s Justice League. He’s also directed TV shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly, and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
As of right now, there is no word from the studio or anyone else involved with the project on what the next steps will be. It’s certainly a bummer for anyone who was into the idea of more female-led superhero movies (read: everyone), but the bright side is it’s another opportunity to let a female director tell a female story and helm the ship of what could be a successful female-led franchise. It worked pretty well with Patty Jenkins and Wonder Woman, so hopefully that’s the direction Warner Bros. are looking now. Plus, it seems like Lindsay Lohan is interested in starring in Batgirl, so, you know, there’s that.
One possible—and still totally unconfirmed—theory for why Whedon decided to drop out of the movie revolves around the likely backlash that someone like Whedon would receive leading a female-led story. In November of last year, Whedon went through a particularly messy divorce with his wife Kai Cole, who penned an essay for the Wrap in which she detailed the surprising way he told her about the series of affairs he had throughout their marriage. "'When I was running Buffy, I was surrounded by beautiful, needy, aggressive young women. It felt like I had a disease, like something from a Greek myth,'" Cole wrote about Whedon. "He never conceded the hypocrisy of being out in the world preaching feminist ideals, while at the same time, taking away my right to make choices for my life and my body based on the truth," she wrote. He was called out online for his hypocritical feminist posturing in public while living a very different life behind doors, and as such he might want to steer clear of any high-profile feminist projects like a female-led superhero movie.
joss whedon blaming patriarchy for cheating on his wife is the culmination and only natural outcome of contemporary mainstream male feminism— julia (@frozenblueber) August 20, 2017
Another female-centric DC movie is already in the works: Gotham City Sirens, which focuses on "top female villains from the DC stable," will see Margot Robbie reprise her role as Harley Quinn. David Ayer, who directed Robbie’s debut as Quinn in Suicide Squad, will also direct Sirens.