It is time for a couple more weeks of fan-casting in the Bat-universe. Today, we will look at two young female adventurers well-known to DC’s readers for frequenting the streets and rooftops of Gotham City. One of these days, I may get around to doing the same for a few others: e.g., Cassandra Cain / Batgirl, Stephanie Brown / Spoiler / Batgirl, Batwoman, maybe Sasha Bordeaux. But, for now, I’ll stick with the two who are probably better known and loved: Barbara Gordon (aka the iconic Batgirl, then Oracle) and Helena Bertinelli (aka the Huntress). Well, maybe not “better loved” in Helena’s case.
Batgirl / Oracle / Barbara Gordon
As usual, I am thinking of a more “classic” look for Batgirl. I included two pics of Barbara/Batgirl — one from her first year in costume, one showing her (curvier figure) from a few years later. And, of course, a third pic from her “Oracle” years. (I considered adding a fourth, showing her new Batgirl costume from after she regained her mobility. But, I figured 3 was enough for one person. Besides, she was still Oracle when I stopped reading.)
According to DC wiki, Barbara is 5’7″, and I think she is roughly three or four years older than Dick Grayson / Robin. (I think Dick was ~16 when they first met.) If a TV series or movie sticks closely to her “Year One” origins, the very bright Miss Gordon will graduate High School at 16. Then she graduates early from Gotham State University with honors and will be working as a research assistant at Gotham Public Library (while continuing her years of martial arts training), when she first dons bat-cape and cowl. That would make her about 19 or 20 years old, I think, so the actress must be close to that age or be able to pass for it. Or, I could see them introducing her as a bit older without much of an issue. For my search, I focused on actresses between 5’5″ and 5’9″ and in their early- to mid-20s.
Barbara is very smart (obviously), capable, mature, physically & psychologically strong, fiercely loyal to family & friends, and dedicated to the fight against crime. If the hypothetical TV or movie series includes the events that made her a paraplegic, the actress would, of course, need to be able to portray the full range of emotions that such trauma would have on a person. She must also be believable as a computer genius — like Emily Bett Rickards as “Felicity Smoake” on “Arrow”, if not moreso. Finally, the red hair is a must, even if it’s a wig.
Honestly, I didn’t find many that seemed to have the right stuff to play cable-swinging adventurer and chair-bound techno-whiz. But, here are a few possibilities:
Emma Watson (5’5″,b.1990)
We all know Harry Potter’s friend “Hermione Granger” was super-smart, but so is the girl (now, young woman) who played her. We know Miss Watson is a talented actress and can play characters who are strong/tough and feminine, as well as smart and conflicted. She has had a few roles since the Harry Potter saga ended, but I think she needs another genre role to really sink her teeth into, and Barbara/Batgirl may just be that role. Besides, she looks great as a redhead; add a pair of glasses and some martial arts and/or gymnastics training, and she’d nail it!
Dakota Fanning (5’4″,b.1994)
Yes, I know Fanning falls under my height requirement, but maybe she could wear thick-soled boots? She is on the young end age-wise, and I was really thinking of her for the “Year One” version of Barbara described above. In case any genre fans are not familiar with Fanning, she starred in the “Taken” mini-series (at the age of 7) and stole audience’s hearts in the movie I Am Sam. She has appeared in many more TV series, voiced Young Wonder Woman in “Justice League”, and starred in several more movies (e.g., Man on Fire, War of the Worlds, Push, and 3 installments of The Twilight Saga). Like Watson, she is very smart and mature in real life, and I think she would be perfect for that aspect of the role. As long as she’s willing to do the physical training, Fanning could be a great “Babs”.
Laura Spencer (?,?)
I haven’t been able to find a source for Spencer’s height or birthdate/age, but I’m guessing she fits within the parameters we are looking for. (I would guess roughly 5’6″ and mid-20s.) Her IMDB listing only goes back to 2009, but she has been in quite a few things, including the genre movie Dylan Dog: Dead of Night and the sitcom “The Big Bang Theory”, where I first saw her. She is a cute, natural(?) redhead, and comes across (in what little I’ve seen of her) as pretty smart. Again, assuming she was up for the physical training, and that she can pull off a more serious, action-oriented role, I think Spencer might be terrific as Barbara/Batgirl.
Huntress / Helena Bertinelli
Originally created in 1977, there have been a few versions of the Huntress over the years, too. But, there is one that stands out, and that’s the one I want to fan-cast. Since at least the late-80s, “Huntress” has been devout Catholic Italian-American Helena Bertinelli, the orphaned daughter of a murdered mafia family who grew up swearing deadly vengeance on the criminal underworld. (Yes, I “stole” that description from DC wiki.) In her quieter moments, Miss Bertinelli was a schoolteacher.
Huntress’s costume has gone through a few permutations — some showing some skin, some incorporating a full bodysuit (see samples pictured here) — but she always has the long, black hair. She’s always very serious, too, even angry. Whereas Helena was a young college student when she first donned a costume, I think it might actually work better on-screen to have her a bit older — say, mid-20s to 30. At 5’11”, she was also rather tall, which makes her harder to cast. I don’t think her height is as important to her character as it is for others (e.g., Wonder Woman), but I do think she should be at least 5’7″, preferably 5’8″ or more. Whoever plays Helena/Huntress in a live-action production must both look the part and be able to convey a tortured soul who walks a fine line in her vigilantism.
I will note that Jessica De Gouw, who played Helena/Huntress in 4 episodes of “Arrow”, is only 5’5″, though she is right in the ballpark age-wise (b.1988). She looked OK, and I found her portrayal adequate but not great. She was fairly believable with the moves (though some of those were by a stuntwoman, of course), and she played the “angry young woman” convincingly enough. But, something about her just didn’t work for me. Plus, I’d rather she was in Gotham dealing with the Bats rather than in Starling dealing with Arrow and friends?
Enough of my gripes. Who would I prefer?
I actually considered Stephanie Jacobsen, who has played “tough chicks” in things like “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles” and “Revenge”. But, at 5’3.5″ and almost 34 years of age, she does not meet our height & age requirements. I really like Mercedes Masohn (5’8″,b.1982) of “The Finder” and “Chuck” for the role, but she is also a little too old. (Could still pull it off, though.) Peyton List would also be great — and she’s available, now that “The Tomorrow People” has been cancelled — but she’s a little too short. Another possibility is Gal Gadot (5’10”,b.1985), who I think fits this role better than she does “Wonder Woman”. (Note: Jaimie Alexander (5’9″,b.1984), whom we all love as Marvel’s Lady Sif in the Thor movies and “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”, fits our parameters, but I’d rather have someone with a darker complexion — or, at least, a good tan.) So,…
I am going to suggest three lesser-known model/actresses as candidates for Helena/Huntress:
Genesis Rodriguez (5’7″,b.1987)
The lovely Miss Rodriguez is the shortest of the three and barely meets our minimal height requirement. She was a regular on the Spanish-speaking series “Prisionera” and has appeared in episodes of “Entourage”. More recently, she has had supporting roles in the movies Man on a Ledge and The Last Stand. As a Latina, Rodriguez definitely has the right look for our vigilante-of-Italian-descent. I think she would do fine, as long as she can do the intensity of the character justice. (That was a “vigilante-themed” pun.)
Julia Voth (5’8″,b.1985)
If you have seen the violent Bitch Slap (which I have not… yet), you might recognize Voth as “Trixie”, one of the three central, er… bad girls. Voth has also appeared in “Supernatural”, “Castle”, and the original, sci-fi web-series “Project: SERA” (available on YouTube). According to IMDB, “Julia’s likeness is used for the basis of the character Jill Valentine from Capcom’s survival-horror video game series ‘Resident Evil,’ starting with the 2002 remake of the original game.” I think she’d be terrific as Helena Bertinelli (aka Huntress), too!
Tahyna Tozzi (5’8″,b.1986)
Tozzi is typically a blonde, so other genre fans have cast her as Emma Frost or Cheetarah. In fact, she had a supporting role as Kayla’s sister “Emma” (presumably Emma Frost) in “X-Men Origins: Wolverine”. I think she looks great as a brunette, too. (Just wish I could’ve found a pic that also showed her figure, maybe in an action pose, but that wasn’t cheesecakey.) Btw, Tozzi has also been in episodes of “CSI” and “CSI:NY”, and she was a regular on the Australian series “Blue Water High”. She has a little different look and I think she would make an interesting choice for Helena/Huntress.
I am assuming that any of these three young ladies would be sufficiently physically fit for the role, or could get there without a problem. They can also be taught a few fighting moves, so they look believable for the close-ups. My only real concern is that I don’t know it they have the acting talent/range. Of course, there are coaches for that, too, and Rodriguez is already studying with one (Marjorie Ballentine).
What thinkest thou? Do you have a preference?
* All ideas copyright Christopher Harris, 2013-2014.