It was recently announced that DC is working on a Batgirl movie and that Joss Whedon would be its director. This is exciting on multiple levels, considering Whedon’s success with Avengers. His experience as creator of Buffy The Vampire Slayer shows his ability to craft stories around a strong female lead. In fact, it seems like a match made in heaven. Rumor has it that after the upcoming Justice League and Aquaman films, it is possible that Batgirl will begin next. And so the question becomes, what stories will serve as inspiration for Whedon’s take on the character?
Barbara Gordon was the first Batgirl and the most iconic. She has had quite a journey as a character in the comics as well. In many ways it may be her time as another character, Oracle, that stands out to many comic book fans. She has returned to role of Batgirl and her origin has been revised in some subtle ways recently, but there is a wealth of material to mine for her cinematic debut. Are we going to see her rise to the role or will we see her fall from it? There are stories on this list that could provide multiple movies and could get a whole new audience to fall in love with Batgirl.
15 BATGIRL OF BURNSIDE
Sometimes an artistic take comes along that really blows the doors off for comic book fans. This was the case when the New 52 Batgirl title took on a new direction under the pen of Cameron Stewart and Brendan Fletcher a few years back. Barbara moved to Burnside, a hipster part of Gotham, and formed a new group of friends who were using technology in a way that was reflective of modern culture. This, coupled with art from Babs Tarr, all came together to give energy and youth to the character that she hadn’t experienced in years.
This story could work for the movie as it would appeal to a younger audience and present a clean slate for viewers. It would be tonally very different from the DC movies thus far as well. The technology angle seems a likely piece to use with Barbara’s media background.
14 THE BAT AND THE CAT
If the movie wants to take things in a completely unexpected comedic and even somewhat vulgar direction, this is the story from which to draw. Originally found in Batman Confidential #17 - 21. This story largely focuses around a fun romp over one of Jim Gordon’s notebooks that is stolen by Catwoman. The chase between Batgirl and Catwoman is supposed to be their first encounter and it’s a wild one. Their chase leads them to the Gotham City Hedonist Society, where proper lack of attire is required for all involved. In short, everyone is naked... including Batgirl!
There is also some interaction with the Russian mob, but suffice to say, it is all very funny with Kevin Maguire’s facial expressions and Fabian Nicieza’s use of dueling narration from Batgirl and Catwoman. Elements of this story could certainly lighten the tone if nothing else.
13 KILLING JOKE
DC should be learning their lesson from the success of Wonder Woman. However, there may be no more well-known story of Barbara Gordon than this one, her darkest moment. While the entire story here is much more about the Joker and Batman dynamic, the shooting of Barbara Gordon and her eventual paralysis led to a whole new path for the character. Will the cinematic universe follow suit?
When Babs became Oracle, a cyber resource for the Justice League, she was as prominent as she ever was as Batgirl. This could be translated over to the movies with the Justice League franchise taking off soon. If that is the path taken, than parts of this story must be used. Jared Leto has shown some intriguing potential to do more with his Joker character, so perhaps this story comes after Batgirl’s solo film debut as part of The Batman.
12 BATMAN: EARTH ONE
The Earth One series of graphic novels give creators a clean slate with which to work. When those creators are Geoff Johns and Gary Frank, readers should pay attention. In fact, anyone making a Batman movie about his early career should check this one out for modern interpretation, as it works wonderfully. The Barbara Gordon of this story is taken captive because of her ties to her father, the commissioner. The mayor, Oswald “Penguin” Cobblepot, is concerned about the police learning about the Wayne murders. While Barbara comes into this incident innocent, she definitely leaves it learning of her ability to overcome and with a strong admiration of Batman. The scene of her drawing the costume just seems too perfect not to be made into part of a film.
11 ZERO YEAR: BATGIRL 25
If you want to know Barbara’s defining qualities before she ever even considers becoming Batgirl, this is the story to read. It takes place in the earliest days of Batman and showcases Babs’ resourceful qualities. As the Riddler is wreaking havoc on Gotham City, plaguing it with super-storms until its citizens can answer the riddles, Babs is stuck trying to help people in need. When her home is evacuated, she decides to take some of her dad’s gear to help keep her little brother safe.
Her sense of duty to not just her family but the entire city is both inspiring and key to the character. She winds up actually assisting an entire group of people as her leadership shines through. Her priorities and understanding of human nature makes this a succinct character study for Barbara Gordon without ever needing a costume or an appearance from Batman.
10 BATMAN ADVENTURES
Batman: The Animated Series had its own companion comic book while it was on television. The first of those was Batman Adventures and early in the run, a couple issues focused on Barbara Gordon’s earliest adventures as Batgirl. Issue 12 has the trope of a costume party where Barbara chooses the Batgirl costume (prior to her becoming Batgirl for good) and encountering all female villains. In this case, Harley Quinn (in her first ever comics appearance) and Poison Ivy showed up, followed by Catwoman.
The 18th issue includes an adventure with Dick Grayson, and the chemistry between the two is palpable. It seems like the plans for Gotham City Sirens as a film combined with an already established Harley Quinn and a future Nightwing film make some of these stories a place to take some fun ideas from.
9 BTAS: SHADOW OF THE BAT
The aforementioned animated series introduces Batgirl in this two-part episode. It is a fantastic look at the father-daughter dynamic between Jim and Barbara, along with another take on the police force. This time a corrupt cop frames Jim Gordon for taking bribes while being manipulated by Two-Face. The story gives Barbara another cool excuse to put a Batman costume on; in this case, to help at a rally to bail out her father while Batman is busy in his always-fun Matches Malone identity.
Not only that, but you get to see Dick Grayson’s reaction to her as Robin and it hits all the right notes. The police drama of this story could be a great plot driver for an origin story and allow for J.K. Simmons to shine as Gordon in a starring role.
8 NIGHTWING ANNUAL 2
One of the aspects of Barbara Gordon’s character that has to be part of the cinematic universe is her relationship with Dick Grayson. This relationship plays a role in multiple stories on the list but it is this single issue that stands out as bringing it to life. Right before the end of Infinite Crisis, Dick Grayson proposed to Babs. During the crisis, Dick is injured badly. This issue deals with Barbara nursing him through his recovery as they reflect on some of their key moments together.
There are so many moments that feel like a real long-term friendship that becomes something more, but there is always that something standing in their way. The conclusion of their story is still to come and you get that all in this one issue. Their relationship would make for something the audience could root for over years of potential sequels.
7 ORACLE: YEAR ONE
Batman Chronicles #5 picks up directly after the events of The Killing Joke. It cuts right to a very important part of the role of sidekicks for Batman and his villains. Barbara knows that Batman was the target of what happened to her and her dad. Barbara has to literally rebuild her self-esteem through media attention, fear and extreme physical demands. She winds up being able to use her computer skills to aid her dad in an investigation and it provides the impetus for a whole new beginning for her.
This story also involves some training from Richard Dragon, a character who could use a boost from the movies. Overall, this story the emotional journey from Batgirl to Oracle that would make for some powerful cinematic moments and also make some fans who are nostalgic for those Oracle years very happy.
6 BIRDS OF PREY: ON WINGS
Should Whedon and company decide to take on the Dick Grayson and Babs dynamic and her time as Oracle, then this story from Birds of Prey #8 must be in strong consideration for at least a scene in a movie. Given their history as Robin and Batgirl and their closeness in age, it seems logical that there would be a friendship and a strong potential attraction between the two.
The touching quality of a “date” where Dick gives her the chance to soar through the air like they did on the rooftops of Gotham is undeniable. Dick’s circus connections give them the chance to use the trapeze equipment for just that and it no doubt means the world to Barbara. Real romance in comics is a rare thing, and this issue just nails it. You can easily imagine seeing this as a montage on film.
5 ENTER BATGIRL, EXIT PENGUIN
Many fans fondly remember the days of the late '60s Batman television series. Barbara Gordon played a role on the later seasons of the show as well, played by Yvonne Craig. In her live action debut, we get an arranged date with Bruce Wayne by her father that doesn’t happen because she is abducted by the Penguin. His classic camp motivation is that he wants to be the Commissioner’s son-in-law to avoid prosecution.
The episode immediately establishes Babs as Batgirl with Alfred being the only one who knows her identity. We get our first glimpse of her motorcycle, which is unforgettable and she helps dispatch of the Penguin and foil his plan. She continued to be part of the show as a librarian at Gotham Library and working as Batgirl when needed. This could be a perfect source for an homage that so much of the viewing audience could appreciate.
4 BATGIRL #0 (NEW 52)
This origin issue is one that distills many of the key aspects of Barbara Gordon’s character into one story. First and foremost, it is her admiration of her father, Police Commissioner James Gordon, that is her initial inspiration. We also get to see her use of charm and wit to get information on Batman as well. This all leads to her first donning of a costume, and it is not the one you would expect to see.
Her slowly building confidence in her ability to be a hero shines here. It also gives multiple visual takes on the character as well, in that it shows the evolution of her costume over the years. The entire issue works as a great introduction to the character and it would be a great place for a script to start.
3 FOLIE A DEUX
Originally found in Legends of the DC Universe #10 and 11, this story is one that has a more artistic takes on the Batgirl origin., though it is by no means straightforward. The focus here is one that follows the parallels between Jim Gordon and his daughter. There is a sense here of fatherly concern and fear as to what Barbara’s choices as Batgirl will lead her into. We also get a glimpse of Batman agreeing to train Batgirl, a cinematic montage of which would be exceptional!
Her inexperience shines through here, but do does her determination to do the right thing despite that. It is a central quality of her character, after all. What happens when she meets her father following some issues at school is a perfect way to illustrate how both operate, and the Batman story on the side could all be welcome plot drivers.
2 BATGIRL: WANTED
It has been rumored that the Batgirl film will take from Gail Simone’s run on the character in the New 52. A seminal storyline from that run was “Batgirl: Wanted.” Prior to this story, Barbara’s brother James Gordon Jr. had been revealed as a sociopathic villain and tries to murder their mother. This leads Barbara to throw a batarang at his eye and seemingly kill him as he subsequently falls off a bridge.
This story follows with a unique dynamic of Commissioner Gordon hunting down Batgirl for his son’s death, not knowing that she is his daughter. It all comes full circle when Batgirl has to save her father from the villain Knightfall later in the story. A major theme is her struggle with what the years of crime fighting have done to her ability to lead a personal life. This story could be a great jumping on point in the cinematic universe.
1 BATGIRL: YEAR ONE
Whedon has to take at least some inspiration from this one. Batgirl: Year One is the most complete look at Barbara’s origin as Batgirl. Her admiration for her father still drives her, but here there are elements of male bias when she is not given a job at the Gotham Police Department or FBI. She then looks to find Black Canary (the original, mother of the one that would become a Bird of Prey with Babs later) in order to train under her.
This doesn’t go as planned and she winds up wearing a costume to a ball (an element used multiple times on this list) to make her father mad. The story uses her internal narration to drive it and has great foreshadowing of stories that take place later in the timeline. It is also beautifully drawn by Marcos Martin in some of his earliest big time work.
Are there any other stories you think might make it to the big screen Batgirl? Let us know your ideas in the comments.