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Forget a Batgirl movie; can we get an Oracle story instead?

by Jessica Norris 17 days ago in superheroes
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What lessons are our superhero movies trying to teach us?

Forget a Batgirl movie; can we get an Oracle story instead?
Photo by Obi - @pixel6propix on Unsplash

Wait, they were making a Batgirl movie?

That was my initial thought when I heard about the cancellation of the Batgirl film. Guess I'm not up to date with the happenings in the film world of DC. Add the canceled film to the growing list of DC efforts that left fans disappointed.

Let's face it. DC hasn't done great in terms of its live-action films. It's odd because they have just as much content to work with as Marvel. Character options abound. I come from the working theory that every Marvel character has a DC counterpart. Iron Man to Batman. Hawkeye to Green arrow. Black Widow to Black Canary. Captain America to Wonder Woman. Quicksilver to Flash.

Arguably, DC also has better villain content to work with, possessing an array of complex villains that Marvel tends to lack. But for whatever reason, they seem to lack the ability to produce the content and revenue that Marvel has been able to achieve.

If DC could learn to take a page or two from some of their animated works, they might have something to work with. But please, keep ignoring the content that has done well in the past. Ignore the comic books.

Where was I in this rant? Oh yeah, Batgirl. There's potential for DC to do a Batgirl film well in the future, but the odds of that happening certainly aren't in their favor. But maybe, just maybe, if they could tell a solid story with a good theme, they would stand a chance. Batgirl has just as much chance as anyone, but the story they pick would make all the difference.

The origins of Batgirl

Batgirl, aka, Barbara Gordon, is the daughter of Commissioner Gordon. She's slightly more obscure than well-known DC characters like Batman or Superman. In terms of her origin story, it's a bit simpler than some other members of the bat family. But that's the silver age of DC comics for you. It was a simpler and more light-hearted time. Her father doesn't want her in law enforcement, so she becomes Batgirl.

I like the version from The Batman TV series (2004-2008). This show was my first time being introduced to Batman, so it has a special place in my heart. In this version, Barbara takes on the role of Batgirl to try and help her friend, Pamela Isley, while hoping to avoid Pamela getting arrested. It doesn't work out as Barbara had hoped. Pamela becomes Poison Ivy, and Barbara dons the mantle again to save Commissioner Gordon after Poison Ivy kidnaps him.

I don't know what the plot was going to be in this cancelled Batgirl film. It was likely some origin story, and if it mirrored The Batman TV series version, it could have been good. But for me, the crucial part of Batgirl's story isn't her origin. It's something that happens much later.

A better option: the story of Oracle

It all starts in the story, "The Killing Joke." The story is disturbing to say the least, and involves the Joker shooting Barbara Gordon in his attempts to psychologically torture the commissioner. It's all part of the Joker's attempt to prove that anyone is only "one bad day" away from becoming like him.

While the story's focus isn't actually on Barbara, she does end up permanently paralyzed from the waist down because of what the Joker did to her.

This is her tragedy. Her Crime Alley. A moment that completely turns her life upside down. She'd been fighting crime and swinging from rooftops as Batgirl, and now she is in a wheelchair. She feels helpless and alone.

But despite this loss, Barbara chooses not to wallow in self-pity. Instead, she focuses on what she can do to help. She takes on the alias of Oracle, utilizing her expert research and tech skills to help Batman's team. She becomes a unique protector of Gotham, monitoring the city and giving the team the resources and knowledge they need to take down threats. It's an inspiring story that defines her as a hero willing to sacrifice for others even after immense loss.

Back to better messaging

One of the first questions I ask about a story is "What was the point?" This question gets to the core of a story. When you combine a valuable core message with compelling characters and an engaging plot, you have a recipe for something great. Most superhero stories come back to solid themes of good triumphing over evil and the value of personal sacrifice, which is part of why they resonate with many so strongly.

For example, Wonder Woman's story is about choosing love and sacrifice, even if people are evil and don't deserve to be saved. Batman's origin story is about defending others, that loss can drive us to help others, and that we don't have to let pain leave us angry at the world. Spiderman is about the classic line, "With great power comes great responsibility." When stories shift away from good morals, stories can fall flat and leave people confused and dissatisfied.

If producers really want to make a Batgirl film, the most important thing will be establishing the message they hope to convey and if that message is worth sharing.

If I could have my pick of Barbara Gordon stories, I'd love a story about how Barbara Gordon became Oracle over how she became Batgirl. Not a live remake of "The Killing Joke" but rather a story about what happened to her after that moment of tragedy.

Her journey to becoming Oracle is an important reminder about overcoming obstacles and learning to live with disabilities. Barbara takes something tragic that happened to her and chooses to focus on what she can do rather than what she can't. She moves forward in part by focusing on others rather than herself. That is a heroic story that just might be worth sharing.

I guess we'll have to wait and see.

By Kevin Ku on Unsplash

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About the author

Jessica Norris

Passionate writer that is enthusiastic about writing engaging, compelling content. Excels in breaking down complex concepts into simple terms and connecting with readers through sharing stories and personal experience.

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