Batgirl has been one of those characters I think many in Hollywood want to make a viable movie franchise property, but has floundered under the shadow of Batman. What producers haven’t realized is that a strong female lead and a stand alone movie can be achieved with the right chemistry, the right story, and above all, the right actors in front of the camera.

This week’s Comic Casting Couch shines the spotlight on Batgirl. But don’t worry, this isn’t some crappy Birds of Prey television series. This is a movie that could herald in the age of successful female superheroes.

The ELEVATOR PITCH

While many superhero films are big budget extravaganzas, with millions of dollars sunk into special effects, Batgirl doesn’t have to be a big spectacle. Instead, this vision of the female crime fighter will be a superhero noir crime drama. It’s John Grisham meets CSI meets Se7en, all wrapped up in Spandex and Kevlar with a strong female lead audiences will love!

THE TALE

Having been raised in the crime ridden city of Gotham, Stephanie Brown is trying to make it as a student at Gotham University working toward computer forensics and law degrees that will land her a job with the FBI Cyber Crimes Unit. While a brilliant student, Stephanie is also more than willing to physically stand up for those that are wronged, and displays that ability early in the film. However, when she tries to stop a parking lot attack on a fellow female student, she’s struck down, and when she awakes, finds herself in the apartment of Barbara Gordon, her computer forensics instructor.

Gordon witnessed the entire event, and sees potential in Stephanie, and believes with a little training she could do things the police and FBI could never do legally. Gordon reveals her past as Batgirl, her association with the still rumored protector of the night, Batman, and the tragedy that ended her career as a masked crime fighter. She’s willing to train Stephanie to become the new Batgirl, and become her mentor.

As Batgirl, Stephanie goes up against local hoods, but quickly discovers a tie to a string of high-tech bank robberies lead by a master criminal the media has dubbed “The Cluemaster.” The Cluemaster’s crimes are extremely violent events, and while no one can figure out who The Cluemaster is, Barbara’s hacking into police computer records reveals a series of cryptic clues are left behind at each crime scene.

Working as a team, Batgirl and Gordon soon discover the Cluemaster to be Stephanie’s former game show host father. As the host of Get-A-Clue!, Arthur Brown was instrumental in coming up with all of the shows final puzzles, which most participants could never solve. Movie goers also learn about Brown’s history of familial abuse, and how it has been on the rise since he lost his job.

Everything comes to a head in the final act of the movie as Batgirl must face her fears, and her father, to end his murderous crime spree.

THE CAST

Amanda Bynes as Stephanie Brown/Batgirl

The actress playing Stephanie Brown needs to be strong willed in order to carry the tough as nails on the outside, and soft and emotional inside character. As an origin story, Amanda Bynes will need to be able to handle the transition from smart girl on the street to smart crime-fighter on the street, and I think she can handle that without a problem. The fact that she has that sweet innocent look with the mask off, should make it even more believable that no one knows the student sitting next to them in class is a crime fighter by night. Don’t let the America’s Sweetheart image fool you, Bynes is a solid actress, and can move when needed.

Jennifer Garner as Barbara Gordon/Oracle

As the former Batgirl, Barbara Gordon knows what it takes to be a crime fighter, which makes her the perfect mentor for the young hero. Confined to a wheel chair following an gunshot to the mid-section, Gordon spends her days teaching computer forensics at Gotham University, and by night serves as Oracle, the source heroes turn to when they need information (possible Batman cameo). As a computer expert, there’s no system Gordon can’t get into to discover the secrets and information Batgirl needs when confronting enemies. While audiences didn’t care for Garner’s portrayal as Elektra, she does have the chops from her years on Alias to bring Gordon to life, and can pull off a physical fight scene even while sitting in a wheelchair.

Goldie Hawn as Crystal Brown

Stephanie Brown’s mother doesn’t appear that often in the comic books, but as a hard working nurse, Crystal Brown is always concerned about what her daughter is up to when she is not in school. Fearing her daughter is going down the wrong path, Crystal and Stephanie are always at odds with one another, which adds another hurdle in Stephanie’s desire to remain a crime fighter. Goldie Hawn has been out of the spotlight for a number of years, but her bright smile and charm would bring warmth to a character who loves her daughter, and even though she is abused by her husband, wants to protect her as much as possible.

Jon Hamm as Arthur Brown/Cluemaster

When trying to create a realistic villain, Jon Hamm has both the build and the skills to produce the smarmy game-show host turned bad guy with a gimmick. While Hamm won’t don the colorful duds from the comics, he does leave behind cryptic clues and hints at the crime scene that ends up being the key to Stephanie solving the big case. In this film, Arthur is portrayed as a wife-beater, and there are indications of other abuse in the family, which makes the brutal confrontation in the final act that much more fitting when Batgirl brings him down.

THAT’S A WRAP

There’s no time for romance or extended appearances by Batman and Robin in this film. Nor does there need to be any mention of Stephanie’s other comic book alias as The Spoiler. Instead, this story will be spotlight the rise of a new brand of female heroine who has taken up the legacy of a fall costumed vigilante. In scripting this story, the tale will need to be tight with no room for error when it comes to technology or the forensics used to solve the case. Clues scattered throughout the movie will have some people figuring out the identity of the villain before it is all over, but it should come as a surprise to most. This is not some After School Special about standing up to an abusive parent, but a shocking thriller with plenty of elements to keep the audience glued to their seats.

The Author

Stephen Schleicher

Stephen Schleicher

Stephen Schleicher began his career writing for the Digital Media Online community of sites, including Digital Producer and Creative Mac covering all aspects of the digital content creation industry. He then moved on to consumer technology, and began the Coolness Roundup podcast. A writing fool, Stephen has freelanced for Sci-Fi Channel's Technology Blog, and Gizmodo. Still longing for the good ol' days, Stephen launched Major Spoilers in July 2006, because he is a glutton for punishment.

You can follow him on Twitter @MajorSpoilers and tell him your darkest secrets...

Previous post

Advance Review: Insane Jane - Avenging Star #1

Next post

Review: Doc Savage #3

15 Comments

  1. June 10, 2010 at 4:46 pm — Reply

    When has Amanda Bynes displayed “solid” acting abilities?

  2. Brent
    June 10, 2010 at 5:45 pm — Reply

    Though I am no great fan of Stephanie Brown, I marvel at Stephen for yet another thoughtful and on-target casting choice. In this this very specific, stand alone pitch, he nailed it. Amanda Bynes is not for the Dark Knight Nolanverse, nor any of the kitschy pre-Nolan adaptations. But the way he pitched the story and tone, she’d work.

    Even with a more famous girl-of-the moment as Steph, the a big studio would ought to require Oracle being portrayed by a big name actress with chops. Garner is a fine choice, but they might want someone more bankable. For the sake of comic book movies in general, I’d love for them to make Oracle even older, and have somebody like, I dunno, Sandra Bullock play Barbara (to generate A-list production values and attention to the project).

    Alas, even with strong writing, a strong adult lead, and strong production values, Cluemaster should not be the villain (maybe mention him as an Easter egg). Aside from his lack of profile, the father angle does not translate well outside of comics. One of the obstacles to female-led action movies is the use of lame villains (Helen Slater’s Supergirl vs. Mommie Dearest…Halle Berry’s Catwoman vs. “the cosmetics industry”). Cluemaster will come off as a derivative, low calorie Joker. Let Steph have an antagonist that will pull in the movie goers who aren’t already coming just for the Bat.

    Then again, I would not have bet on Vampires who sparkle, so what do I know?

    • June 10, 2010 at 9:08 pm — Reply

      Interesting that you mention Sandra B. because she was on my shortlist for Gordon, along with Kate Beckinsale.

  3. Ravishing Richie
    June 10, 2010 at 7:16 pm — Reply

    Good idea. I would like to see Cassandra Cain become Batgirl. I realize it’s not really family friendly, especially being trained at an early age to be an assassin, but I’m sure they could rework the background slightly.

  4. @lantis
    June 10, 2010 at 7:46 pm — Reply

    Good pitch except for one part. I really don’t think Barbara Gordon should be upfront and open about her past as Batgirl. I think it should be hinted at, but never overtly stated. This will give the audience the sense that Stephanie is stepping into a world and tradition she doesn’t fully understand. It also makes the Batgirl identity more her own and not just a “flavor of the week” person filling the shoes. Something along the lines of Barbara telling Stephanie the story of BAtgirl’s past as if it happened to someone else.

    I also absolutely hate Jennifer Garner, but I have particular reasons for hating her as Barbara Gordon. She is not a high enough quality actress to pull off the role. I think the philosophy should be to cast supporting characters that will make the lead’s performance better. She’s just not capable of doing that from what I’ve seen of her acting ability. She also does not have the body type for a woman who is bound to a wheelchair, she’s just too thin. Gillian Anderson would make a much better Barbara in my opinion.

    Aside from those two things I love the proposals. I would go see a movie along the premise proposed, a well done noir is hard to beat, and adding in a forensics element will appeal to the cultural zeitgeist around crime dramas.

  5. Astro Dinosaurus
    June 10, 2010 at 7:59 pm — Reply

    Bring back the other casting guy…Who’s this Schleicher dude anyway?

    Amanda Bynes? (No acting ability and no resemblance)
    Goldie Hawn? (1st off she’s not a mom she’s a grandmother)
    Really, really?!

    And Jennifer Garner while a better actor than those two should never be Barbara.
    I like the story pitched though. The villain I don’t know about. Imagine all the non-comics fans raging at how they ruined “The Riddler”. I think Calculator would fit in well here. Hell have Babs take his job at Gotham U and set him up early.

  6. duckface
    June 11, 2010 at 12:55 am — Reply

    I like the Jennifer Garner idea! She never crossed my mind.
    But I also like the idea of Isla Fisher as Barbara. Both actresses would obviously give completely different takes on Oracle and so it really depends on what kind of movie this would be.

    I have no idea who’d be good for Stephanie, as I’m not very clued up on current teen actors (BUT PLEASE GOD NO TAYLOR SWIFT OR MILEY CYRUS), but Amanda is a bit old for that now isn’t she? As The Entire History Of DC Comics seems to have taken place over a space of 15 years, she’s more at a Barbara age isn’t she?

    • Navarre
      June 11, 2010 at 8:12 am — Reply

      Taylor will be 21 on her next birthday. Amanda Bynes is 24. But there seems to be a strong trend lately of slightly older girls playing teenagers.

      The new MTV show “The Hard Times of R.J. Berger” features a 29 year old woman playing a high school sophomore. … And she fairly looks the part.

  7. Steamblade
    June 11, 2010 at 11:40 am — Reply

    Those are horrible choices, all around no. Jon Hamm has a face built to play a hero, not a throwaway nobody like Cluemaster. Also, nice 26 year gap in Stephanie’s parents ages.

  8. Brian G.
    June 17, 2010 at 10:38 am — Reply

    Strange … Amanda Bynes is one of my biggest hollywood crushes and Batgirl (current) one of my least favorite characters. I think the likely result of this would be that Mrs. Bynes would make me a fan of Batgirl again. However Mrs. Garner would probably make me dislike Oracle forever.

  9. SuperDude
    August 29, 2010 at 10:50 am — Reply

    First off, Bad casting, Second, How the hell do you make a Batgirl movie without it being about Barbara Gordon. She’s the first Batgirl and IMO the only Batgirl.

    • August 30, 2010 at 10:42 am — Reply

      First off, Bad casting, Second, How the hell do you make a Batgirl movie without it being about Barbara Gordon. She’s the first Batgirl and IMO the only Batgirl.

      The main reason, offhand, is that Babs hasn’t been Batgirl in almost twenty-five years…

  10. SuperDude
    August 29, 2010 at 10:51 am — Reply

    Almost forgot, Make it based off of Batgirl Year One.

  11. chrisblue77
    November 8, 2010 at 11:23 pm — Reply

    If the movie was don in a three movie ark, Barbara Gordon may be Cassandra Cain and the last Stephanie Brown. the movie would have to have Cassandra as either a bad girl or a killer pawn, she gets turned to the good side, the movie would half to end with Barbra getting shot, I, I wonder by who? The second movie would have to do with Cassandra becoming a person and less of a weapon, all while kicking ass and chewing bubble gum, I kind of think she dousnt like bubble gum, at the end of that movie Barbara meets Stephanie. I’m still trying to think where to drop a Spoiler beat? The last movie should be all Stephanie, maybe Cassandra takes up the Spoiler hoodie. Maybe they have one of thous close girly, sisterly friendships that all men think is VERY close. and ends withe Clue master going down.
    My problem with fan casting is that fans think that the actress must have the same hair color as the comic book chater. Remember G.I Joe?

You know you have something to say, say it in the comment section