The star of Batgirl, Leslie Grace, may have just hinted at the film’s plot – and even pointed the way to a Black Canary cameo. Excitement is building for DC’s upcoming Batgirl movie, which stars Leslie Grace as the latest incarnation of Barbara Gordon. Precious little is known about the plot at this stage, but every detail offers a new hint – and, so far, this seems to be a film that draws deeply upon the comic book lore.
Leslie Grace herself recently took to social media to unveil the new Batgirl costume. The purples and yellows are similar to the classic Batgirl from the 1960s TV series, while the overall design is strongly influenced by the popular “Batgirl of Burnside” era in the comics. Grace subsequently reposted the image on Twitter, this time including a quote from the comics; “I use their expectations against them. That will be their weakness. Not mine. Let them all underestimate me… And when their guard is down, and their pride is rising, let me kick their butts.” It’s lifted straight from Batgirl: Year One, a nine-issue miniseres by Chuck Dixon, Scott Beatty, and Marcos Martín that ran from 2002 to 2003.
The quote may be more important than most viewers think, though, because there are striking parallels between the origin story of Batgirl told in Batgirl: Year One and the little currently known about the HBO Max movie. The miniseries focused on Barbara Gordon’s decision to become Batgirl, with Batman and Robin monitoring her activities and trying to figure out what to do with her. Batgirl’s first real villain was Firefly, a criminal pyromaniac whose rampages nearly ended her vigilante career before it had even begun, and this live-action Firefly will be portrayed by Brendan Fraser. Even more excitingly, there have been hints of Black Canary Easter eggs in Batgirl – and in this comic book run, Barbara Gordon is a massive fan of Black Canary, although their first team-up doesn’t go at all well. If Batgirl: Year One really is a source of inspiration to this movie, then it’s quite possible it will tie in to the Black Canary spinoff of Birds Of Prey, starring Jurnee Smollett.
Even the details of Batgirl: Year One‘s portrayal of Barbara Gordon seem to match up. In the comics, Barbara Gordon craved adventure, and initially sought to join the police force – partly an act of rebellion towards her father, future Commissioner Gordon. She was unable to do so because she was too short to become a police officer – and Grace herself, appropriately enough, is two inches below the minimum height requirement to join the police. In-universe, this was why Batgirl’s first costume incorporated high-heel shoes – she was tired of being looked down upon because of her height. While it’s true set photos from Batgirl have shown Barbara Gordon wearing a GCPD vest, she could always be working in the office rather than on the streets.
Grace’s tweet may be a lot more important than anyone thought; she could well be pointing to the main comic book run that inspires HBO’s Batgirl. If that is indeed the case, then this is an origin story and a character study, focused on how a frustrated yet remarkably competent teenager becomes a member of the Bat-family. The central theme will be about agency, with Batgirl refusing to allow others to make decisions for her life; initially she’ll be a street-level hero who deals with muggers and vandals, but gradually she’ll escalate until she’s dealing with villains like Firefly. And Batman and the as-yet-unidentified Robin will be watching her all the time, assessing her, reluctant to bring James Gordon’s daughter into the vigilante business – but forced to do so when Batman accepts she just won’t quit. Such an arc would fit well with a cameo from Smollett’s Black Canary, who could serve as an inspiration for the new Batgirl – a fitting role for the superheroine.
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