Yvonne Craig was chosen to play the TV version of Batgirl. According to Les Daniels, here’s what she had to say about the job: “I used to think the reason they hired me was [that] they knew I could ride my own motorcycle […] I realized they hired me because I had a cartoon voice.” Indeed, Daniels writes that the casting of Batgirl was the production team playing both sides — creating a super-heroine to attract feminist acclaim (Craig later played Batgirl in a U.S. Department of Labor advert for the Equal Pay Act) but also giving male viewers eye candy.
In any case, the Batgirl ploy didn’t save the series. Daniels speculates that trying to both scale back the show’s length and increase the cast made it feel overcrowded, turning Batgirl into a third wheel rather than a new partner. That might be why the comics used Batgirl as the star of shorter, backup stories in “Detective Comics,” rather than trying to jam her into the Dynamic Duo as the TV show did.
Barbara Gordon’s bad luck onscreen doesn’t end here. Her film debut, 1997’s “Batman & Robin” where she was played by Alicia Silverstone, was panned and marked the end of the first “Batman” film series. A “Batgirl” movie scheduled for release in 2022 was canned. While Barbara had a starring role in “Batman: The Animated Series,” her role there is tainted by producer Bruce Timm’s consistent (and gross) fixation on pairing her and Bruce romantically.
However, despite these hurdles, Barbara has continued to play a starring role in “Batman” comics to this day. William Dozier may have failed to save his show, but he helped forge an integral part of the Batman mythos in his failure.