Over four years ago, Warner Bros. announced Joss Whedon would write, direct and produce a standalone Batgirl film centered on Barbara Gordon. Nearly a year later, he exited the project claiming he had “failed to crack a story.”
Only a couple of months after Whedon’s exit, Warner Bros. decided to light up the Bat-signal once more for the film, hiring Bumblebee’s Christina Hodson to tackle a new script after they were impressed with her work on the studio’s Birds of Prey, which by that time was still planned to include Barbara Gordon. Hodson would then be hired to write Andy Muschietti’s The Flash for Warners about a year later, which ended up sidelining Batgirl for a bit.
The development of Batgirl has come a long way at DC Films, but the film is finally getting traction after three years of little to no updates. Back in May, Bad Boys for Life filmmakers Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah were tapped to direct the project, with Cruella’s Kristin Burr set as a producer.
By early July, The Illuminerdi unveiled three different casting calls for the film: by then, the film was looking to cast an actress in her early 20s to play the lead Barbara Gordon, aka Batgirl, an actor in his 50s to play Barbara’s father, Commissioner Gordon, described as a “strong supporting character in the film,” and an actor in his 50s-60s to play the villain, who is described as a disgruntled former firefighter — one can speculate that this description could fit Firefly, aka Garfield Lynns, a notable member of Batman’s rogues gallery, but we can’t know for sure yet.
Later that month, execs auditioned a group of actresses for the title role, with Isabela Merced, Zoey Deutch, Leslie Grace and Haley Lu Richardson making up the shortlist reported by Deadline. A couple of days later, Grace, who broke out earlier in the year in the studio’s In The Heights, was picked for the part. About a week following Grace’s casting, J. K. Simmons, who portrayed Commissioner James Gordon in Justice League, was reported to be in negotiations to reprise the role in Batgirl — something that was apparently not in the cards earlier in the casting process, as only a month earlier the studio was still looking for an actor in his 50s to fill the part.
One possibly important detail we might have missed: by June 2020, Michael Keaton was announced to be in talks to reprise his version of Batman from the Tim Burton films in The Flash movie. Although that piece of news shares no apparent connection to Batgirl at first other than the fact Christina Hodson is also behind the script, there’s a specific detail that catches the eye: Keaton was negotiating for a multi-picture deal where he would appear in a “Nick Fury-type role” of a “mentor or string puller” in future films, with Batgirl cited by trades as one of the discussed films. Although it’s unclear if the plan remains, it’s still a strong possibility seeing as Keaton did wind up signing a deal.
Batgirl will be DC Films’ first feature to release exclusively on HBO Max, currently set for an unspecified 2022 date. Filming is set to commence this November, with more casting news likely on the horizon.