“Everything We Know about … ” is Paste’s series of deep dives into the forthcoming projects we’re most excited about. Explore them all here.
Warner Bros. and DC are currently assembling the female superhero team-up movie Birds of Prey, led by Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn, making her return from 2016’s Suicide Squad. Here’s everything we know so far about the forthcoming DCEU project.
In December 2016, it was reported that Suicide Squad director David Ayer was developing Gotham City Sirens, an all-female villain showcase featuring Robbie as breakout character Harley Quinn. It seems, however, that Warner Bros. and DC have since dropped this project in favor of Birds of Prey.
In November 2017, TheWrap reported that Warner Bros. and DC had tapped screenwriter Christina Hodson to pen the script for Birds of Prey. The in-demand writer is also credited with the female-led Transformers installment Bumblebee, and in April 2018, also replaced previously announced writer-director Joss Whedon on DC’s forthcoming Batgirl movie.
In April 2018, it was reported that Cathy Yan had been tapped to direct a then-untitled DC movie based on the Birds of Prey comics. A former Wall Street Journal reporter, Yan made her feature directorial debut with the Sundance Jury Award-winning Dead Pigs earlier this year. With Birds of Prey, she will become the DC Universe’s first Asian female director.
Star Margot Robbie is producing Birds of Prey via her LuckyChap Entertainment banner, along with Kroll & Co Entertainment’s Sue Kroll and Clubhouse Pictures’ Bryan Unkeless.
In July, Deadline reported that the California Film Commission had given Birds of Prey $12.6 million in tax credits to film in the state, with plans to start shooting “in the next several months,” once Robbie had wrapped up her role as Sharon Tate in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon A Time in Hollywood.
In October, while promoting Sony’s Venom, cinematographer Matthew Libatique revealed that he was preparing to start working on the project, as per an interview with Philippines-based GMA News Online. Libatique also worked on Bradley Cooper’s A Star Is Born earlier this year, and has collaborated on several films with director Darren Aronofsky, including mother! and Black Swan.
In November, the film’s full title was (yes, seriously) revealed to be Birds of Prey (And The Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn), as confirmed in a tweet by Warner Bros.
Margot Robbie will reprise her Suicide Squad role as Harley Quinn in Birds of Prey.
As reported in September 2018, joining Robbie in the female superhero squad are Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Huntress and Jurnee Smollett-Bell as Black Canary.
Huntress, a longtime Batman character who hasn’t appeared in any of DC’s films to date, is a former mafia princess who, as with the Caped Crusader, becomes a vigilante after witnessing her parents’ murder at a young age. Black Canary, aka Dinah Lance, is a street fighter with a superpowered “canary cry” that allows her to shatter glass and incapacitate enemies, and is also making her cinematic debut with Birds of Prey.
In October, Rosie Perez was cast as Gotham City detective Renee Montoya, per THR. Montoya, who in the comics goes on to take on the costumed identity of The Question, is also an out lesbian and one of the most prominent LGBT characters in the DC universe. She was portrayed by Victoria Cartagena in the Fox series Gotham.
On Nov. 1, Ewan McGregor reportedly joined the film’s cast as lead villain Black Mask. The character, aka Roman Sionis, is a Gotham City mob boss who leads the False Face Society gang, and who in the comics killed his parents in order to take control of their corporation. He loses everything due to his failings as a businessman, however, for which he blames others, including Bruce Wayne.
Later that month, newcomer Ella Jay Basco was cast as Cassandra Cain, the film’s last major role, per Variety. Cain, the daughter of assassins David Cain and Lady Shiva, goes on to befriend Bruce Wayne and become Batgirl.
It’s unclear whether the Batgirl storyline will factor into Birds of Prey, as writer Christina Hodson is developing a separate Batgirl movie featuring Barbara Gordon as the character. It’s also unclear whether Gordon, who in the comics serves as the leader of the Birds of Prey gang, will feature in the film.
Today, Dec. 11, Chris Messina was reported to have joined the cast as villain Victor Zsasz, who in Birds of Prey will work alongside McGregor’s main antagonist Black Mask.
In Batman lore, Victor Zsasz is a sadistic serial killer, frequently incarcerated at Arkham Asylum, who slits his victims’ throats and leaves them in lifelike poses, carving a tally mark onto himself for each of his victims. At 25, his wealthy parents die in a boating accident, which plummets him into a deep depression, losing himself in gambling and ultimately losing everything to the Penguin. During a suicide attempt, Zsasz kills a homeless man who tried to rob him, which gets him addicted to the thrill of killing.
The character was first introduced in June 1992 as part of Batman: Shadow of the Bat #1 and has been portrayed onscreen by Anthony Carrigan in the Fox series Gotham.
The Deadline report on Messina’s casting also reveals that Warner Bros. has announced a number of new cast members in unknown roles. These additions are Steven Williams (The Chi), Derek Wilson (Future Man, Preacher), Dana Lee (Dr. Ken), Francois Chau (The Expanse, The Tick) and Matthew Willig (The Ballad of Buster Scruggs).
The same day, TheWrap reported that comedian Ali Wong had joined the cast in a supporting role, playing an as-yet-unnamed associate of Perez’s Renee Montoya in Gotham law enforcement. Those reports also included the news that Robert Catrini had been cast in an unknown role.
Warner Bros. and DC are currently slated to release Birds of Prey on Feb. 7, 2020.
Per Deadline, the film was initially scheduled for Feb. 14, 2019, but was pushed up a week in order to avoid competing against Bond 25, which moved to that date with the announcement of new director Cary Fukunaga.
The first Birds of Prey trailer was released Oct. 1, nearly nine months after it was initially teased. Go figure!
Watch this space for further updates on Birds of Prey (And The Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn), which, insanely, is in fact titled that.