Momentum is steadily building towards the March 2016 premiere of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, which is set to be the second film in the DC shared movie universe. Batman V Superman will be immediately followed by Suicide Squad in August and Wonder Woman a year later, before the release of Justice League: Part One in November of 2017. Casting rumors for the rest of DC’s Expanded Universe (or DCEU for short) haven’t exactly been in short supply as of late, but things certainly kicked up a notch earlier this week.
On Monday, rumors emerged that Abbey Lee (Mad Max: Fury Road) and Alona Tal (Supernatural) were in the running to play Black Canary in the DCEU. In addition to the casting rumor, the site also reported that the heroine would potentially return to star in an in-development Birds of Prey film somewhere down the line.
The report was the first anyone had heard about Black Canary being included on the Justice League roster and should certainly be taken with the requisite grain of salt. If the rumors prove true, however, the implications of her involvement may be far bigger than you might think. Let’s take a look at What the Black Canary Casting Rumors Mean for the DC Movie Universe.
The Black Canary character has a future in the DCEU
Casting rumors for superhero films often don’t pan out, but the fact that Warner Bros. is reportedly looking at specific actresses for Black Canary almost certainly means that the character is on the way. Abbey Lee and Alona Tal may not end up sporting the black leather jacket and fishnet stockings, but, assuming all goes according to plan for the DCEU, we’ll likely be hearing someone shouting the Canary Cry on the big screen sooner rather than later.
Two women have held the Black Canary moniker, but in the interest of keeping things simple for film audiences, DC will likely elect to ignore the original (Dinah Drake) and focus on Dinah Laurel Lance. The second Black Canary is one of the most gifted hand to hand combatants in all of DC Comics, and her skills as a world-class martial artist are augmented by her ability to produce an ultrasonic scream attack from her vocal chords. The New 52 comic reboot has explained Lance’s Canary Cry, which she uses to obliterate various objects and incapacitate her foes, to be the result of a metagene in her blood. The applications of her lone superpower have been expanded in the New 52: Black Canary can now use the sonic waves she produces to glide/propel herself through the air (think Banshee from X-Men: First Class). This newly revealed talent could help Lance hold her own alongside her fellow Justice Leaguers and make her that much more useful on the battlefield, should filmmakers choose to feature it in the DCEU.
The Laurel Lance that fans love to hate on The CW’s Arrow is, for the most part, an entirely different character from her comic book counterpart. The live-action iteration will (hopefully) be a more faithful adaptation of Black Canary.
Gotham could be getting very crowded very soon
For many, the biggest impact that Black Canary’s potential involvement has on the DCEU is what it seemingly confirms for Batman’s home city, Gotham. Assuming a Birds of Prey film is indeed a priority for the architects of DC’s shared universe, former Dark Knight sidekick Barbara Gordon will likely be joining her longtime comic colleague in the war on crime. This assumption plays directly into (as-yet unconfirmed) rumors that Jena Malone is playing Gordon in Batman V Superman, which we first heard about back in July. There’s no way of knowing whether Malone will be playing Batgirl or Oracle (the wheelchair-bound, tech-savvy alter-ego of the paraplegic hero) in the DCEU, but her very involvement would suggest that Gotham City will be the base of operations for even more crimefighters than we originally believed.
The Birds of Prey are traditionally based out of Gotham’s Clocktower, though they could easily be relocated to avoid muddying the water (read: forcing crossovers) for Batman solo films. One city can only have so much dysfunction, after all. But the truly interesting bit comes from asking the question, “Would Warner Bros. even consider so heavily featuring a secondary sidekick of the Caped Crusader without first highlighting his more well-known cohort, Robin?” We think not. Rumors of multiple Robins appearing in DC’s shared universe have persisted for months, with more recent reports claiming that Dick Grayson and Jason Todd will be front and center in the Dark Knight’s upcoming solo outing. A vague sense of straw-grasping aside, if Gordon has a role to play in the future of the DCEU, you can bet that at least one former Boy Wonder will factor in as well. Like most comic fans, we’re very much on board with the idea of a live-action Bat Family.
Enter the Birds of Prey
Whether she’ll be Batgirl, Oracle, or something else entirely, Barbara Gordon is a sure-fire bet to join Black Canary on the Birds of Prey roster, which would be the first female-led superhero team in cinematic history. DC appears to be going all in on the ladies these days, a smart gamble given the recent success of the Hunger Games franchise and the anticipated success of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which is headlined by up-and-coming actress Daisy Ridley. But Gordon and Black Canary won’t be alone in the Clocktower, of course.
The team has featured several other DC characters over the years, namely Huntress, Lady Blackhawk, and Katana. The latter is set to be introduced next summer in Suicide Squad, and is a good bet to appear in a Birds of Prey film, should she survive the ill-fated events of her big screen debut. Fellow Suicide Squad characters Harley Quinn and Enchantress are longshots to join the Birds of Prey, though other prominent antiheroes like Lady Shiva and Poison Ivy (both of whom have served on the team in the past) could always be brought into the fold. The list of potential Birds is endless, and could serve as a means of expanding the ever-growing DCEU. But who would they face?
Since the team isn’t directly associated with any one arch-nemesis, any of DC’s pantheon of villains could end up squaring off against the Birds of Prey. Their New 52 role as Gotham City’s covert ops team could be adopted for a smaller-scale film, pitting them against a group like the Court of Owls or even the Suicide Squad itself. If Warner Bros. was interested in tying the team’s exploits more directly into the big picture of the DCEU, keep an eye on the likes of Talia al Ghul or even Big Barda. Though the former leader of Darkseid’s personal guard has long since taken on a more heroic role in the DC universe, Barda could serve as an excellent foe for the Birds of Prey—and set up Darkseid’s future DCEU arrival—if the writers are willing to (gasp!) alter the source material a bit.
Green Arrow may not be far behind
Of all the characters fans associate Black Canary with, the heroine may be best known for her relationship with the defender of Star City, Oliver Queen. An iconic DC power couple, the two were married for years in the pre-New 52 continuity before divorcing, and have yet to get together in the years since the company-wide retconning. Despite this, the two will forever be linked to one another, and many fans took the Black Canary casting rumors as a sign that Queen could be making his big screen debut in the very near future.
Fans would be wise not to get their Green Arrow hopes up too high, however, as Justice League: Part One looks to have a lot on its plate as it is. The team-up film is already set to introduce several key League members (Batman V Superman cameos notwithstanding), and with Black Canary very possibly making her debut as well, the film would simply not have enough time to do a proper introduction of Oliver Queen. As much fun as it would be to see the staunchly liberal Green Arrow butt heads with the traditionally conservative Batman, we may be asking for a bit too much here. For now, fans will have to settle for the small screen version of the hooded vigilante, whose series could be in for a bit of a shake-up.
Major changes could be in store for The CW’s DC universe
The CW’s shared comic universe is set to kick into an even higher gear this coming March with the premiere of its third superhero series, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow. A spinoff of Arrow and The Flash, Legends will feature several supporting characters from the previous series, as well as some new faces, as they travel through time in an attempt to stop the immortal supervillain, Vandal Savage. The third series marks a milestone success for the network, but there have been several bumps along the way, specifically in terms of character usage. The insistence by DC execs to keep the film and TV universes separate allows for more creative breathing room for the former, but has forced the latter into taking a few unexpected detours around studio-mandated roadblocks. Arrow fans will recall how the show’s plans for Harley Quinn were nixed out of the blue—and Deadshot was killed off—so that those characters could flourish in the movie realm unhindered by their small screen counterparts. Could a similar fate await Arrow‘s Laurel Lance?
It seems safe to say at this point that Katie Cassidy’s Black Canary does not rank among the series’ more popular characters. Weak characterization has resulted in Laurel playing the damsel in distress far too often, a fact made all the more insulting when one takes a look at Lance’s storied comic history. Arrow fans have been calling for her head for years, and the DCEU casting rumor may only serve to stoke those flames.
That being said, the inclusion of Black Canary in the movie universe doesn’t necessarily spell doom for Arrow‘s Laurel. After all, we’ll soon have two simultaneous iterations of Barry Allen on our hands, and possibly two Oliver Queens after that. Perhaps it’s the fact that a film depiction of the character would (again, hopefully) be so different than the TV version that could just ensure that Laurel gets to stay on for a while longer. But Green Arrow and the Flash are the stars of their own wildly popular series, whereas Laurel is… not. We wouldn’t be shocked to see Laurel meet a similar ending to that of her (vastly more popular) sister, Sara—albeit a more permanent one.
The DCEU lineup is getting crowded
Another major question presented by the Black Canary rumors is that of a Birds of Prey movie’s place in the DCEU film schedule. Previously, the widely-held belief was that Warner Bros. was looking to release two DC movies a year—no more, no less—from 2016 to 2020. That film slate is hardly set in stone, but a Birds adaptation certainly adds an interesting wrinkle to the studio’s plans. Assuming Batman V Superman and Suicide Squad perform to expectations, and the DCEU enjoys a profitable 2016, comic fans could be getting even more superhero films than we’d ever thought possible.
We haven’t heard much about that Legion of Super-Heroes adaptation as of late, but several other properties like The Sandman and a Booster Gold/Blue Beetle team-up are apparently in the pipeline. And of course, despite the departure of director Guillermo del Toro, the Justice League Dark project looks to be alive and well. How many of these films will take place in the DCEU continuity is unclear, but the sheer amount of DC projects in development demonstrates just how much studios are banking on the superhero genre thriving for at least another decade or so. A Birds of Prey film wouldn’t likely arrive until 2018 at the earliest, so fans should keep their fingers crossed that Steven Spielberg was dead wrong about superhero fatigue.
Do you think Black Canary deserves to be a top-priority character for DC? What do you think the biggest impact her inclusion in the DCEU would have? If she is indeed on the way, does Green Arrow need to follow her to the big screen? Be sure to sound off in the comments below.
Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice opens on March 25th, 2016; Suicide Squad on August 5th, 2016; Wonder Woman on June 23rd, 2017; Justice League: Part One on November 17th, 2017; The Flash on March 23rd, 2018; Aquaman on July 27th, 2018; Shazam on April 5th, 2019; Justice League: Part Two on June 14th, 2019; Cyborg on April 3rd, 2020; Green Lantern Corps on June 19th, 2020. Untitled Batman and Superman Solo Films will be coming at dates TBD.