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!
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.
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.