Proving that the DC side of the superhero industry isn’t copying Marvel in any way, they’ve hired the guy who wrote Alien Resurrection to direct Batgirl. That’s right folks, Joss Whedon is joining the DC movie universe, and I feel oddly conflicted.
Firstly, I have to do a little fanboy dance about what Joss Whedon’s work means to me (and millions the world over). I have nothing but love for Joss (I feel like I can call him Joss, after all, he helped shape me), I found Buffy The Vampire Slayer when I was a goofy 15-year-old who was every bit the social outcast. I found great comfort in the exploits of the Scoobies, the horrors of teenage angst played out against the horrors of fighting demons, vampires and gods, sign me up.
Buffy celebrated its 20th anniversary this week, and while it makes me feel horribly old, I feel so much pride that I was a teenager when Buffy came to be. Truth be told, Buffy (and its spin-off Angel) is just as awesome two decades on, and it’s lessons for youngsters are timeless.
Like every Whedon fan, when I discovered he was going to direct The Avengers I shit my pants with excitement (take that how you will). Whedon was the perfect fit to tackle the ultimate ensemble movie, and the boy done well as The Avengers was a monster hit. Aside from all the money it made, The Avengers was about as close to perfect as you can get.
Then, Marvel tasked Joss to be the point man on Phase Two and help steer multiple movies in the right direction. My heart sank a little, would all this extra work get in the way of new projects? Well, I was proved immediately wrong as Whedon had gone and made Much Ado About Nothing just before starting post-production on Avengers. Skip forward a couple of years, and a battle-weary Joss sounds bruised and fed-up on the press junkets for Age of Ultron. I’m not talking about Daniel Craig levels of fed-up, but Joss said he felt a little broken after making Ultron.
Joss pretty much ruled himself out of returning to the MCU last year, he might have teased he’d come back for a Black Widow solo movie, but I think deep down Joss knew that was unlikely to happen. What has caught me off guard about Joss joining DC is I kinda thought he was done making superhero adaptations and I want to see him forge something new. Ironically, his forthcoming comic book (Twist) is described as “a Victorian era female Batman.
Joss Whedon signing up for a Batgirl movie is unquestionably a great thing for the DC universe, and unlike Marvel, DC are keen to get more female-led superhero movies made. It feels like the DC franchise is currently running on curiosity rather than loyalty. We all want to believe that a remarkable (or at this stage a coherent) movie can come out of the current DC universe. But I didn’t see Suicide Squad because I thought it looked amazing, I saw it because I hoped it would be better than Dawn of Justice. It was, but not by much.
The current crop of DC movies has polarised audiences and critics alike, some people have enjoyed them, while others have hated them with a fiery passion. I quite liked some of Man of Steel, even though the things I liked were down to Christopher Nolan’s contributions, it was a serviceable reboot.
I can’t help but picture the scene, Joss is tapping away writing the Batgirl script in the Warner backlot, and a couple of nervous executive knocks on his door. Joss (being super nice) cheerfully beckons them in; the two executives shuffle in clutching a couple of scripts and Joss (because he’s super nice) asks “what you got there?” The executives hand him the 728-page script for Justice League 2 and ask “we were wondering if you could just take a little look at this and tell us how it could be, you know, better?”
Cut to black.