Market Impact: Batgirl Movie Finds Its Firefly

Market Impact: Batgirl Movie Finds Its Firefly

BY MATT TUCK

Could a C-list villain be on his way to a cinematic upgrade? That may be the case as Firefly has been cast as the antagonist to Batgirl in her upcoming movie, and that could mean the classic Bat-villain will be moving up the criminal ladder.

Brendan Fraser will take on the role in the upcoming Batgirl, reportedly beating out Rocky/Rambo himself, Sylvester Stallone, for the part. He will join Leslie Grace as Barbara Gordon/Batgirl and J.K. Simmons who will return to his Justice League role as Jim Gordon. If this had been five years ago, there would be a collective groan from the comic community. These days, Fraser’s Hollywood resurgence has been an uplifting story. In an era when the seedy side of Hollywood has taken the lead, Fraser has a reputation as one of the most likeable stars from the 1990s. What makes his career resurrection that much better for comic fans is that the catalyst was the Doom Patrol.

The hit series is now in its third season on HBO Max, and Fraser has been a breakout star as Robotman/Cliff. His work has been so well received that it has rejuvenated his stardom, and we have to assume Doom Patrol helped put him in the running for Batgirl

WHO IS FIREFLY?

Considering that the Batgirl script is coming from the same screenwriter behind Birds of Prey, not to mention casting Fraser as the lead villain, Batgirl will be an action-comedy with emphasis on the comedy. With Fraser’s hilarious performance as Robotman, we can expect this will not be a dark, brooding performance by any means, and Firefly’s Golden Age roots are perfect for a tongue-in-cheek campy villain.

In the comics, Firefly was lost in the sea of the Golden Age rogue’s gallery. Instead of fire, this version of the character used lighting effects to help him commit a series of robberies. Later, DC gave him a dark twist, turning him into a pyromaniac who just wanted to burn down Gotham City. 

DETECTIVE COMICS #184

The original Firefly, Garfield Lynns, debuted in this 1952 issue of Detective Comics. At that time, superhero comics were geared primarily for younger children, so scary versions of the rogue’s gallery were not allowed. That explains why Lynns was a master of pyrotechnics and explosives, but instead of doing the obvious with that knowledge, he put on a show with optical illusions in order to steal without hurting anyone. Now that I think about it, this sounds suspiciously like the prototype for Mysterio in Marvel Comics.

After Crisis on Infinite Earths, when practically the entire DC Universe was reset, the Firefly character evolved into something a bit more sinister and deadly. That would be the version fans would grow to love, though the villain would stay in the C and D-list range.

At the moment, this is one seriously unpopular key issue, though that could change in the near future. On the graded side of things, there has only been one sale of a CGC slab - a 6.0 that brought $3k in January. More recently, a 1.8 CBCS-graded copy sold for $825 on October 11. Aside from those sales, finding a DC #184 is hard to come by. There are practically no raw sales to speak of at the moment. However, I expect that to change as word of Fraser’s casting begins to circulate.

BATMAN #126

Seven years after Garfield Lynns made a rather unimpressive debut in DC #184, Bill Finger would christen a new character as the second Firefly. This time, the honor went to Ted Carson. In true Silver Age fashion, Carson was the heir to a million-dollar gold mine empire, but he was a terrible gambler who lost his fortune. Apparently learning absolutely zero life lessons from the experience, Carson turned to a life of crime as the new Firefly to recoup his wealth. 

WarnerMedia has confirmed that Fraser will portray the Garfield Lynns version of the character, but there is nothing that says Carson won’t make a cameo appearance. In the New 52 reboot, he was reimagined as a high school teacher who, in his grief over a breakup, decided it was a good idea to burn anything that reminded him of his ex. I’m not saying we all haven’t thought about doing that, but for a Batman villain to actually do it is just sad. It would not surprise me if there is a reference to that moment in Batgirl.

Batman #126 has outsold DC #184 so far this year, but neither comic has set the market on fire. There have only been four grades of Batman #126 to swap owners online this year - the 8.0, 6.5, 4.5, and the 3.5. On the plus side, these copies are still affordable, especially for comics printed in 1959. At the top, the 8.0 last sold for $860 in April. Meanwhile, the 6.5 brought $302 in June while the 4.5 sold for $132 in May. The most recent sale was for the aforementioned 3.5, which earned $150 in August.

DETECTIVE COMICS #988

Will anyone be surprised if Lady Firefly makes an appearance in Batgirl? Of course, she was not initially created for the comics. Instead, Bridgit Pike was written into the Gotham television series. Paired with Ted Carson as her mentor, Pike would debut in the comics in 2018. The gossip is that while Fraser’s Lynns will be the primary antagonist for Barbara Gordon, Pike will appear as Firefly’s protege and eventual successor. That will add value to her first appearance and make it worth having in your collections.

There haven’t been any graded sales in the past two years. In 2019, 9.8s for a standard cover and variant brought $25 and $47, respectively. Since Tuesday, the raw copies have been red hot. Yesterday alone, there were 32 sales, with the standard cover generally selling for around $5 and the variant earning about $10.

SETTING THE WORLD ON FIRE

The Batgirl movie is taking shape, and it could be a surprise hit for WarnerMedia. With J.K. Simmons in the Jim Gordon role, it is clear this movie is connected to the Snyder-verse and not Matt Reeves’ The Batman. What could that mean for the franchise? With so much happening in the world of Batman in The Flash, there could be an eventual crossover with Barbara Gordon and Barry Allen. 

As for me, I am just hoping we finally get a silver-screen Nightwing. Cross your fingers.

Matt Tuck is the author of the novel, Lost Bones of the Dead. He is a professional writer, avid comic collector, former teacher, and an international man of mystery. You can follow him on his Facebook page, The Comic Blog.


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