Barbara Gordon vs Cassandra Cain

I’m sure you’ve read by now “Batgirl” is getting her own film… I mean, how could you not.

The big questions at this point is which of the many version of Batgirl we’ll see on the big screen. Until we know for sure who WB/DC and Joss Whedon are going with, all we can do is speculate or debate who would be better. I think everyone believes it will be Barbara and I have no reason to think otherwise. I’m betting we’ll get some news and clarification out of SDCC 2017 in a few days.

I really hate the phrase “deserves their own movie”. Both of these incarnations of Batgirl deserve their own movie. A far better question is, which verison makes for a better movie… I mean that should ultimately be the criteria for something like this, right?

Since we have some time to kill before we get something official and in the end, it’s not like this will change anything WB/DC has in motion. So let’s kick that hornets nest.

Barbara Gordon

Barbara as Batgirl is just not very unique, not by today’s standards anyways. Most of the things that made Barbara’s Batgirl interesting have since been done in one form or another, on both the big screen and small. Not to mention, other than being “Batgirl”. What does Barbara really bring to the table? The major event for Barbara was getting shot by the Joker. Spoiler alert, she didn’t need a Batgirl costume to do that.

Ok, that was a bit harsh but other than Batgirl being the start of Barbara Gordon’s evolution to Oracle, I honestly can’t make an argument for why Barbara should get a solo movie. Granted she’d clearly needs to be included in any Batgirl movie, in some capacity. Honestly, does a story that could be summed up in a flashback or flipping through a scrap book… or even as exposition while finding a box at the bottom of a closet really merit a whole movie?

I just don’t know if a solo film is the best way to tell Barbara’s story, so much of which is while she was Oracle. As Batgirl, prior to the the Killing Joke, there’s really not much to tell. This is probably why the rumor mill has mentioned the new 52 verison. Because it’s the largest body of content to pull from for Barbara under the cowl. Batgirl year one wouldn’t be a bad source either. But pretty much anything else would require a heavy dose of Batman and I’m not sure how Ben Affleck going to feel about doing that.

Sure I could say because she’s the first Batgirl… except she’s not, she’s just the best known. Truth be told, she wasn’t even the first Batgirl to get a regular ongoing series. Cassandra Cain holds that title. Most people probably to realize, the best Barbara Gordon Batgirl material came after Killing Joke.

I’m not anti Barbara Gordon, far from it. As Oracle I find she’s far more interesting and 3 dimensional. These days diverse is important to attract new audiences. A former female crimefighter whose paralyzed and still manages to make a different doesn’t sound like something we’ve seen before on the big screen, I could be wrong.

Ok, here’s an elevator pitch for Barbara as both Oracle and Batgirl.

Oracle: Female crimefighter is cut down in her prime. Now confined to a wheelchair, she must finds a new way to make a difference and pass on her mantle.

Batgirl: Daughter of police commissioner fights crime behind her father’s back dressed as the female version of the city’s biggest hero. The Batman!

The other thing that makes a solo Barbara Gordon Batgirl movie far less appealing to me is who’s she going to fight. Seriously, A bunch of street thugs? Muggers? Yawn, Boring. It’s not gonna be anybody A list. The best we could hope for would be Harley Quinn and that seems extremely unlikely.

If Barbara goes up against a Deathstroke level character in a physical contest she’s gonna get beat like a red headed step child, pun intended. Her strength, much like Batman is her mind. So someone like the Riddler whose intellectual could present an interesting advisory on screen would be great. I’m just not sure how likely that will be.

One things for certain. A Birds of Prey screenplay is in the works, so there is some plan at WB for some version of Barbara Gordon regardless if it’s as Batgirl or Oracle.

Cassandra Cain

Cassandra Cain is hands down my first choice for so many reason. I realize she might not be yours. I see a lot of parallels between Cassandra and Laura/x-23 from this years Logan movie. Unlike Laura, Cassandra’s not a clone or a daughter of an A list superhero. Rather the offspring of two lesser known villains. Part of her journey is figuring out who her mother is.

One of the parallels both Cassandra and Laura share is working at not unleashing their killer instinct. Cassandra reads people’s body language. Visually, there’s a lot that can be done with this, action sequences wise. Sadly, I could see it being done as a dusting off of the effect used in the Sherlock Holmes films.

When she fights, she knows the easiest way to kill her opponents. She has to make a conscious effort not to kill and only disable them. That’s not necessarily fresh ground, the killer that doesn’t want to be a killer anymore isn’t new. However there’s enough going on with her that the journey could still be unique.

Cassandra speaks very little, meaning this provides the right actress with a huge opportunity… or challenge. Cass can’t read. So that opens a huge box of possibility for a skilled screenwriter to work with… it’s fresh and something that hasn’t been beating like a dead horse. While it probably won’t be award worthey, it could still be enjoyable.

Which brings me back to Oracle. Cassandra and Barbara work well as a team. So ultimately my choice would be for Barbara to appear in support of Cassandra as Batgirl. This line up creates a far more diverse and unique film opportunity for moviegoers. It would also provide the potential for two stories being told simultaneously.

The dynamic between Barbara and Cassandra was a huge reason Batgirl Vol 1 ran 73 issues during a time of slowly eroding sales.

Which reminds me, Cassandra also would offer a gateway for Deathstroke, whose film future is still in question at time of writing this. Due to the Batman script rewriter. This would create another possibility for him to appear on screen. Had Robin not been the apple of Deathstrokes eye, it could have easily been Cassandra. Don’t forget, she’s faced him several times in the comics.

Even Batman knows if Cassandra wanted to end him, she could. Maybe it’s just me, but a movie about a girl who can kick Batman’s butt, I think that sounds far more interesting.

What about Stephanie Brown!!!!

What makes Stephanie interesting is that she takes over for several different characters in the Batfamily. She’s another piece of connectivity between that corner of the DCU.

Her journey starts as Spoiler, who becomes friends with Cassandra’s and sorta part time sidekick. She then goes on to Batman’s full time sidekick as Robin. Then later still, taking over the mantle of Batgirl from Cassandra.

Stephanie’s evolution really doesn’t work without the other characters established. You can’t have a character take over for ones that haven’t been established yet. It robs Stephanie of the importance of working her way up. Not just anyone can take over as Robin or Batgirl, much less one and then the other. It’s means something to see her earn that over time. It robs her of those accomplishments and lessens her if they are glossed over or excluded.

In each instant she learns her own strengths and weakness. As Robin, she wasn’t like any of the boys. As Batgirl, she wasn’t Cassandra or Barbara, she had to come into her own. That could be a trilogy just in itself, Spoiler, to Robin to Batgirl.

Who will get to be Batgirl on the big screen? Who knows, maybe it’ll be Charlie Gage-Radcliffe or Betty Kane. Then everyone can be mad.

I’m sure everyone has an opinion on this, so sound off in the comments below! 

15 comments

  • It was already reported Barbara Gordon by Enertainment Weekly long ago.

    • Skot Whitman

      I’m sure it will be confirmed this weekend as Barbara, but up till now it’s all been 100% speculation and assumption, including EW. I’d even go so far as to wager the majority of article written are by people who have no clue there’s actually any other Batgirl’s besides Barbara.

  • an2one

    I like your analysis Skot. I’d rather have a more interesting character like Cassandra in the solo. Alana, I don’t believe it was 100% confirmed.

    • Skot Whitman

      Thanks for reading. I think WB/DC could have an incredible successful multi movie franchise (more than 5 films) on it’s hands if they planned things out. Start it with Barbara, then Cassandra and eventually wrapping it up with Stephanie.

  • tuffguyfinds

    Had no clue who Cassandra Cain was till about 2 years ago(and only because my wife wanted to read up on an Asian batgirl). After filling me in on her origin and how badass she is, I went on and completed the run. I agree she would be the better Batgirl to watch on screen, with Oracle helping her. Also great point on the similarities between Laura in the Logan movie

    • Skot Whitman

      When Cassandra first showed up I wasn’t feeling her, like many people back then. I couldn’t understand why they felt the need to do a new Batgirl. Over time she became one of my favorite characters in the DCU. In issue 54 when Oracle just loses it on Cassandra because she still can’t read, that would be crazy to see on the big screen.

      Not really sure why nobody has put together the similarities between Laura and Cassandra… maybe people take things too literal i guess.

  • tsouthammavong

    Great article Skot. What is the Cassandra Cain by Cassio Yoshiyaki pic have in this article? Is it a cover of a comic? Doing a google search, didn’t find it mention as a cover art.

  • Good breakdown of the choices. Let me throw one more into the ring. What about Carrie Kelly?

    • Skot Whitman

      That’s a very good question… and one that deserves an honest answer… regardless of how unpopular it might be.

      Carrie Kelly was the first female Robin (out of continuity) and clearly influenced future incarnations of both Robin and Batgirl… but here’s the rub.

      Any chance for Carrie Kelly to make a big screen appearance died the exact second Zack Snyder began raping the Dark Knight Returns of it’s most iconic moments to make his self indulgent dumpster fire, aka Batman vs Superman.

      TDKR deserves a faithful big screen adaption with Carrie Kelly because she’s vital to that story working. Sadly do to Zack Snyder’s unforgivable selfishness, that’s probably not a reality for at least a decade… maybe longer.

  • Awesome article…. great breakdown.
    Would love to see lady shiva vs batgirl on the big screen…
    Wonder if they would throw in a little batwoman/ orphan/ spoiler to add to the star power of the movie almost like detective comics current run…

    • Skot Whitman

      Thanks for reading and commenting. I think that’s a good idea. Making a series of movies with the bat family of character would be really cool, certainly more interesting than yet another in a long list of Batman solo flicks.

  • I wish they would get the Batman movie figured out before they start trying to mess around with any of these D list characters.

    • Skot Whitman

      Batman has had, what ,7 or 8 movies over the years and they’re still stumbling through yet another feeble attempting to make another.

      Batman’s an A list character and they’ve only managed to make one movie worthy of his stature, The Dark Knight. They should have quit while they were ahead IMO.

      Also, remember Iron Man was a b/c list character before his big screen debut, so don’t underestimate the draw of less known characters at the box office.

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