Joss Whedon has left as writer and director of the “Batgirl” movie for Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment, citing story issues as the reason for his departure.
“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 in a statement.
Whedon thanked DC president Geoff Johns and Warners Picture Group president Toby Emmerich, saying, “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'?”
Variety first reported last March that Whedon had come on to “Batgirl” following a meeting between Whedon, studio exec Jon Berg, and Johns.
Sources close to the situation told Variety that the decision for Whedon to depart was a mutual one and reflects the studio's desire to seek more female directors — particularly on projects centered on female characters.
“Batgirl” has been a popular superhero for more than 50 years, but has never gotten her own movie. The movie was to be based on the Batgirl story that was first unveiled in DC Comics in 1967, when Barbara Gordon, the daughter of Gotham City police commissioner James Gordon, appeared as the character in “The Million Dollar Debut of Batgirl!” by writer Gardner Fox and artist Carmine Infantino.
With Whedon's departure, it's uncertain whether Warner Bros. will continue development of a “Batgirl” movie, says Variety. The project would be the second movie from DC Films to feature a female lead after Gal Gadot's “Wonder Woman” - one of the biggest box office hits of 2017. The studio is moving ahead with a “Wonder Woman” sequel with Gadot and director Patty Jenkins returning and has set a November 1, 2019, release date.
Warner Bros. has also been developing a “Gotham City Sirens” project with Margot Robbie starring as her Harley Quinn character from “Suicide Squad” and David Ayer directing.
Whedon had seen considerable success in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, having written and directed 2012's “The Avengers” and 2015's “Avengers: Age of Ultron” for Disney-Marvel. He also created the television series “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”, “Angel”, “Firefly”, “Dollhouse” and “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”
Whedon stepped in last spring to handle the reshoots and finish “Justice League” for Warner Bros. last spring after director Zack Snyder publicly excused himself from the project, following his daughter's suicide in March.
“Aquaman”, starring Jason Momoa, is the next title in the DC Extended Universe with a December 21 release date. “Wonder Woman 2” is the only other film in the DCEU that has been set for release.