With the recent news that Joss Whedon is in the works to do a (potentially amazing, if arguably problematic) Batgirl movie, I’ve been thinking about Barbara Gordon a lot. I mean, more than usual. BG’s always been a personal favorite and perhaps the first example I remember from my childhood of not only a real “strong female character” but a superhero I actually connected with. Babs has been a hero to many and while she has been used in incredibly problematic ways over the years, she remains one of the most prominent female superheroes to the average geek.
This shade of purple was forever associated with Batgirl in my brain. (image via Batman Wiki)
As different artists have taken a crack at Batgirl over the years, she has gone through a few phases, as have most of the other major players in the Batman canon. Many of those different versions of BG have been used in exploitative ways. Despite this, many have made her a feminist icon and often a source of inspiration to fans of all genders. In looking back at some of these incarnations, I also hope to highlight a few things that will be crucial to the Batgirl film not ending up horrible.
TW: Discussion of themes related to sexual violence and ableism.
I usually enjoy DC Comics animated movies, because unlike their live-action movies, they’re actually, you know, good. But despite how successful and how influential The Killing Jokeis in the Batman universe, I am not excited about this movie, and that all has to do with how this comic affects Barbara Gordon.
In many ways, this blog is an outlet. No matter what this blog becomes, it still started as an outlet for several people to voice their opinion on culture, using geek culture as the go-between. Some of us focus on feminism. Others focus on sexual equality. I’ve spent most of my time here focusing on the plight of those with disabilities.
We get a lot of comments daily. Some praise us; some chastise us in a honorable manner, and some just attempt to attack every fiber of our being. The writers of those comments seem to hate us, sometimes for sport. It’s frustrating.
The “hate for hate’s sake” concept has been around forever. Adolf Hitler’s hate for the non-Aryan race may have had an explanation in his mind, but really it was just hate for being different. A lot of the gay-bashing that goes on today just boils down to “I hate gays because they’re not straight.” No logic in that statement.
Even disabilities such as autism gather immense amounts of hate.
I was surfing the internet today, as I usually do when I’m taking breaks from writing, and came across an archived forum on Comic Book Resources. In it, forum members were listing disabled characters in both the DC and Marvel universes. One post brought up Matt Murdock, otherwise known as Daredevil, mentioning that he fights crime despite being blind.
However, another poster questioned whether Daredevil’s blindness, along with several other characters’ disabilities, was actually disabilities.