Time Warner (NYSE:TWX) has signed Avengers series director Joss Whedon to make a Batgirl movie that's part of its DC Extended Universe (DCEU) movie franchise. In addition to television series including Buffy: The Vampire Slayer and Firefly, Whedon is known for writing and directing Disney's (NYSE:DIS) first two Avengers films, so the director's move to the DCEU franchise presents a notable creative shakeup in the cinematic superhero competition.
News of a Batgirl film makes it clear that Warner is banking on characters from the Batman universe to be the foundation of its superhero movie franchise. In addition to upcoming Batman and Batgirl films, the company is also developing a movie around the Nightwing character; a project centered on Harley Quinn and other female antiheroes, dubbed Gotham City Sirens; and a sequel to Suicide Squad.
Why it matters
The DCEU is Warner's most valuable entertainment franchise and packs huge box-office and merchandising potential, but, in many ways, it hasn't gotten off to an ideal start. Following lackluster reviews for the first three movies in the connected film series, and a spate of directorial departures and negative publicity surrounding upcoming projects, the addition of Joss Whedon to the DCEU creative team stands out as a welcome bit of good news for the franchise.
Whedon is credited with helping to turn Disney's Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron into huge successes, and his brand of punchy dialogue and meta-humor have become key ingredients in the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The director has also been praised for his handling of female characters, particularly in the Buffy series, and his style and track record suggest he would be a good fit for another female-led series in the DCEU.
With Warner aiming to make its superhero universe less brooding and more accessible, bringing Whedon aboard could help the series find its new tone and create benefits that extend beyond the Batgirl film.