Batgirl has been a part of the Batman lore for over 60 years. A version of the character, attributed to Bette Kane's alter-ego, was first introduced in April 1961, while the most famous incarnation, with the alter-ego of Adam West, was first introduced in 1967 on the advice of producers of the live-action Batman television show starring Adam West.
From the start, Batgirl's most famous iteration has been intertwined with live-action storytelling in the world of comic books. Tragically, Batgirl has not performed well in live-action media, whether it's movies or television shows.
The reason for why the Bette Kane version of Batgirl was initially rejected by comics editors was because she was deemed to be too ridiculous. However, fear of being ridiculed by other people kept keeping Gordons Batgirl from appearing in the comics in a more frequent capacity. As with Robin, Patrick Willems noted, a lot of Batman media outside the comics has omitted a vital character from their mythology.
A flesh-and-blood Batgirl story would not be introduced until Batman & Robin in 1997 due to Alicia Silverstone, who would play the titular character in the Batman films. With Batman Forever introducing Dick Graysons Robin (Chris O'Donnell), the sequel might have introduced a whole new generation to the character and given Batgirl a new lease on life.
Batgirl received no criticism for her performances (that award went to the Bat-Nipples and Mr. Freezes ice puns), but Warner Bros. decided it was time for a reboot. For the time being, it seemed it was time for Barbara Gordon/Batgirl to focus on television.
The Birds of Prey show premiered in 2002 on The WB. Following a superhero group created by Barbara Gordon in the mid-1990s, the show featured Gordon (Dina Meyer) teamed up with Helena Kyle/Huntress (Ashley Scott) and Dinah Redmond (Rachel Skarsten) to fight crime in Gotham City. Gordon is already using the Oracle name in her subsequent comic roles.
This allowed this version of Gordon to immediately deviate from the recognizable Batman and Robin incarnations of Harley Quinn from the 1960s and 1990s, but it wasnt enough to keep Birds of Prey on the air for long. During the Crisis on Infinite Earths Arrowverse crossover event, Meyer would reprise her role as Barbara Gordon.
Barbara Gordon's live-action version of Batman went into hibernation after this episode, although the character did make an appearance in one of the most popular live-action Batman films in the 21st century. For instance, Robin was relegated to being a cutesy last-minute reference connected to Joseph Gordon-Levitts John Blake's epilogue of The Dark Knight.
Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman), Barbara Gordon's father, must deal with Harvey Dent/Two-Face (Aaron Eckhart) kidnapping his family in the film's finale. This kid is never given a name, not even in the credits, since Barbara Gordon's wife has left town and taken her kids with her. That was the end of Barbara Gordon's brief stint in Nolan's vision of Gotham city.
With the premiere of the CW show Arrow, which birthed the Arrowverse, Barbara Gordon/Batgirl had a new opportunity to take the batgirl role, although she only appeared in one episode. However, Stephanie Brown, the fifth person to adopt the Batgirl mantle in the comics, never donned a Batgirl outfit.
Gordon did poorly in other live-action TV programs in the 2010s. For example, the fact that the program featured a teenage Bruce Wayne made it odd that Gordon would have remained a less prominent participant in the series Titans. This didn't happen until the third season of Titans, although Gordon did make a brief appearance as a series regular portrayed by Savannah Welch.
Despite the fact that Barbara Gordon did not make any appearance in the first DC Extended Universe titles, this seemed to open the way for Barbara Gordon/Batgirl, contrary to earlier live-action versions of the character that focused on Batman's origins, like Batman Begins or Gotham. However, Warner Bros. did not make any plans for the character.
Joss Whedon was hired to direct a solo film for Batgirl in 2017 - a notion that seemed to indicate that the character would return to the big screen in a significant way. Two months after Whedon's departure, Christina Hodson joined the production to write a new screenplay for Batgirl. Three years later, Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah, the stars of the hit 2020 documentary Bad Boys for Life, both appeared to have a promising future in live-action films
Batgirl went through all of the usual editing processes that a superhero film undergoes before it gets released. Securing some familiar faces from other comic book movies in the supporting cast. Releasing first-look pictures of characters in costume. All seemed to be normal, and the first solo vehicle for Barbara Gordon/Batgirl appeared to be on the right track.
Then came the terrible news that shook the world: Warner Bros. announced that it would stop producing Batgirl, despite the fact that it was still in preproduction. The film was never intended to be released because of the new owners of Warner Bros., Warner Discovery, who would have control of the rights.
Barbara Gordon's only live-action role to date was in one of the worst-reviewed Batman films ever, while her own ArrowVerse program only lasted a season. TV programs that utilize the most obscure areas of DC Comics mythology, like the ArrowVerse programs, still wont call on Batgirl to help save the day. No matter what, this character in live-action continues to be given the cold shoulder.
Barbara Gordon/Batgirl's tendency to avoid being included in live-action media are mainly the same issues Willems outlined as being to blame, namely an obsession in film and television with portraying Batman as a ruthless loner. This is a target demo often seen as expendable in most mainstream media, while many projects are often reluctant to emphasize teen girl characters because of fear of alienating male viewers.
The end of the new Batgirl film is the latest in a long line of disappointing developments concerning the prospect of seeing Barbara Gordon/Batgirl enter any kind of live-action media. What a terrible oversight for a character who has been so vital to the Batman mythos for decades. Perhaps The Batman 2 for Matt Reeves can finally correct this worrisome oversight and give this beloved comic book hero the proper treatment she deserves.