J.K. Simmons may soon be lighting up the bat-signal again — only this time, it’d be for Batgirl.
The Hollywood Reporter has the exclusive that the acclaimed actor is in negotiations to reprise his role as Commissioner James “Jim” Gordon in HBO Max’s upcoming Batgirl film. Simmons’ first (and canonically only) time playing the iconic cop was in Justice League, a role which was expanded slightly in the much ballyhooed Zack Snyder’s Justice League cut.
Should the deal go through, Simmons would be playing the father of Leslie Grace’s Batgirl. The In the Heights actress nabbed the role earlier this month, facing off against stiff competition for the coveted cowl. It’s been reported that her incarnation of Batgirl will indeed be Barbara Gordon, the most popular version of the character and Commissioner Gordon’s daughter.
Of course, Simmons’ casting brings up a whole bunch of questions about how Batgirl will fit into the DC Extended Universe. When Grace was cast, there was speculation that the movie could tie to the upcoming The Batman; in that production, Commissioner Gordon is being played by Jeffrey Wright. Instead, it seems Warner Bros. will have the Afro-Latina Grace play the daughter of the Caucasian Simmons. That in turn would firmly set the movie in the Snyder-verse alongside productions like Aquaman, Suicide Squad, and Wonder Woman 1984.
Or, perhaps reports of Grace playing a Gordon at all are wrong. DC has done this before, renaming the character Barbara Wilson and making her the niece of Alfred, Bruce Wayne’s faithful butler, in Batman & Robin. In the same vein, there’s some history of scripting around multi-racial families in comic movies, as when Kate Mara’s Sue Storm was written as being adopted by the family of Michael B. Jordan’s Johnny Storm in 2015’s The Fantastic Four.
That said, neither of those films are held in high regard in the pantheon of superhero cinema.
In any event, Batgirl will be directed by Bad Boys for Life helmers Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah, with a script coming from Christina Hodson (Birds of Prey, the forthcoming The Flash). The movie is set to become the first DCEU movie to be released exclusively to HBO Max, and is targeting a 2023 debut.