The unstable machine crafting the Warner Bros. DC movie universe has seen a number of projects start and stop, and a number of filmmakers come and go.
Joss Whedon went from the Marvel universe (Avengers, Avengers: Age of Ultron) to WB’s DC universe when he was brought on to write, produce and direct a Batgirl movie. That took a bit of a backseat when Zack Snyder was forced to leave Justice League due to a personal tragedy. Whedon was brought in to finish up the film, resulting in the mish-mash that we ended up getting. Justice League was met with critical backlash, mixed to negative fan opinion, and an underwhelming box office draw.
And then, almost a year after signing up, Whedon was no longer on board Batgirl. The acclaimed creative mind behind Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel and Firefly, among other properties, announced that he had simply “failed” to craft the right story to tell. While there have been rumours that there may be more to his exit than meets the eye, Whedon’s doubled own on his initial announcement, recently confirming to Variety that the “the story just kind of crumbled in my hands.”
“I felt it had been a year since I first pitched a story,” Whedon said whilst on the red carpet at the Avengers: Infinity War premiere.
“A lot happened in that year, and I felt some of the elements might not work as well, and the story just kind of crumbled in my hands because there were elements I just hadn’t mastered, and after a long time I felt like I wasn’t going to. So I told people I didn’t have an idea, which isn’t the exact truth. I had an idea, and it just didn’t fit in the space that was left for it.”
Whedon’s reference to “the space that was left for it” is, perhaps, quite telling. After all, WB has become somewhat of a reactionary studio with their DC films, changing tones and narrative lines this way and that way, guided by execs’ creative opinions and whatever love/hate has been directed at the film they have delivered prior. For Whedon, it’s possible he’d come on board when the studio was keen to go a certain way, and then found himself at a loss when they opted to change direction.
Either way, Whedon’s understandably disappointed by how things turned out. BUT, there’s a sliver lining: he’s now free to tackle one of his own projects.
“It was a little heartbreaking because I was so excited about it, but I’m working on something of my own, and there’s nothing more exciting than that.”
— Variety (@Variety) April 24, 2018