After what seemed like years of fans demanding to see more female faces in high-profile (and varied) roles in the growing genre of superhero blockbusters, the DC Extended Universe wasted no time. Not only has Wonder Woman shown up to rescue the stars of Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, but Harley Quinn is emerging as a fan-favorite in Suicide Squad‘s marketing. Apparently, actress Margot Robbie and director David Ayer have made such progress with ‘the Joker’s girlfriend’ already, the studio is looking to make her the star of a spinoff film, calling on some of the DC Universe’s best femme fatales (both heroes and villains).
It’s fantastic news for those hoping to see the DCEU grow and develop where it seems most promising – not just where the studio has stated – and considering how many fantastic female characters there are to choose from, Harley might have some competition. The reports of a Harley Quinn movie are still just rumors, and are likely to stay that way for some time. But that doesn’t mean we can’t start imagining the other heroes and potential villains that could help the Gotham gang-stress flesh out the DCEU. And trust us, there are plenty to choose from.
As always, our list isn’t meant to be a definitive collection of the characters who could deliver on the big screen – which means any and all DC Comics fans should sound off on any we’ve missed.
No surprises here: if you’re going to create a shared movie universe in which Bruce Wayne has been prowling the rooftops of Gotham for decades, not just months, then an appearance from Catwoman is almost mandatory. Not just because she’s a perfect blend of villain and hero. Not just because of her complicated, love/hate relationship with Bruce Wayne. But above all, she’s the kind of complex, morally self-aware character that would do perfectly in the darker, more brutal world of Zack Snyder and David Ayer’s films.
It should surprise no one that Selina Kyle and Harley Quinn’s paths have crossed numerous times in the comics, both in and out of their costumes. But where other heroes or even villains can’t stomach Harley’s manic energy, Selina’s sardonic sense of humor makes her one of the few characters who can take it (even if she just chooses not to). There were rumors in the past that Catwoman was going to be cast opposite Ben Affleck’s Bruce Wayne in Batman V Superman, but while Dawn of Justice proved fruitless in that regard, seeing the acrobatic cat burglar teaming up with Harley seems too good to be true.
14. Barbara Gordon
It’s even less of a surprise that when the rumor first surfaced of a Harley Quinn movie, presumably set in Gotham, with other DC women on the cast, ‘Batgirl’ would be one to namedrop. That’s almost certainly a reference to Barbara Gordon, the heroine most often tied to the moniker (and the daughter of Commissioner James Gordon). Her origin story may be less than timeless, but over the years, Barbara has grown every bit as modern and contemporary as a superhero can. And after years spent showing her value from a wheelchair – directing the entire Bat-Family as ‘Oracle’ – DC Comics finally saw fit to return her legs, and once again thrust her onto the frontlines as Batgirl.
If the rumor is true (and since Barbara is one of the most beloved DC women, we hope it is), then fans may already know who is playing Barbara in the DCEU: Jena Malone, Zack Snyder’s former Sucker Punch collaborator. Of course, the reports of her playing the part in Batman V Superman proved to be false (at least until the Ultimate Cut is released), but if there’s a movie calling on more DC women after Ben Affleck’s successful introduction, Batgirl seems like a no-brainer.
No, not the Martian Manhunter, just ‘Manhunter’ – known to her friends as Kate Spencer, federal prosecutor. Her motivations aren’t all that different from Marvel’s Daredevil: tired of seeing guilty criminals walk out onto the streets to commit new crimes, Kate decides to put and end to it, taking justice into her own hands. By stealing some supervillainy technology from the evidence lock-up, she dons the costume, and kills one man who escaped justice. Taking the title of Manhunter, Kate begins her double-life: lawyer by day, masked, powered vigilante by night.
The obvious moral flexibility with Kate makes it possible for her to actually fit alongside Harley Quinn, or the other vigilantes throughout the Batman universe. And if the minds behind the DCEU are looking to add a street-level vigilante for the audience to relate to – a tall order when it comes to Harley Quinn – then Kate Spencer would be a strong choice. Her young son and ex-husband only provide more grounds to explore.
12. Poison Ivy
In the world of “Gotham City Sirens”, it’s no coincidence that Harley, Catwoman, and Poison Ivy should be singled out. Over the years, the trio have been drawn or animated with obvious sex appeal, not to mention the countless pin-up posters sold at comic book conventions around the world. But while some might claim it low-brow (not an unfair accusation), the art of seduction, disarming good looks, and feminine wiles are the currencies that Pamela Ivey trades in. And thanks to some medication from Ivy to Harley, the madcap maiden is immune to her poisons (something most of the men she meets can’t say).
It’s a bit more difficult to think of a story that would call upon Harley and Ivy – plant protection is her top priority – but if you’re discussing a movie packed with DC’s most beloved femma fatales, Poison Ivy is a must.
No, we’re not talking about the version of the Huntress seen on The Cw’s Arrow, but the Helena Bertinelli of the comics. The daughter of an affair between a mob boss’ wife and a rival crime figure, who survived what should have been a hit on her entire family – leaving Helena alive, and ushered off to Italy to come of age. When she returned to Gotham City as a teen, Helena came to realize that not only was the mafia corrupt and dangerous, but that there was one man they all feared: the Batman. Deciding that a life as a masked vigilante in Batman’s image would grant her the same power, she became the Huntress. And, in due time, won the respect of Bruce Wayne.
It’s enough to say that a superhero who is born on the wrong side of the war between heroes and crime is refreshing, but one so shaped by notions of family is also a bit less common. Add in the fact that Helena is a devout Catholic – a core part of her character’s identity – and it seems a missed opportunity not to include her in the DCEU’s version of Gotham – and the sooner, the better.
10. Cassandra Cain
There’s a good chance that even those mainstream, casual comic book superhero fans who can spot Batgirl or Robin in a crowd have never heard of Cassandra Cain. But believe it or not, she isn’t just a beloved member of the Bat-Family, but blessed with one of the most fascinating origin stories of them all. Seeking to breed the perfect bodyguard for Ra’s al Ghul (him again?), mercenary David Cain manipulated the deadly Lady Shiva into carrying his child. She delivered Cassandra, leaving her to be raised as a warrior (and becoming the DC Universe’s deadliest assassin herself).
Cassandra was bred for a purpose, which meant her father never taught her to speak, read or write: only interpret the body language and movements of other people, allowing her to anticipate their actions and attacks like no other. Cassandra made her first kill at only eight years old, instantly realizing that death was not for her, and beginning her ascent into the light, learning to speak, taking the mantle of Batgirl, being ‘killed,’ but eventually taking her place alongside the other Robins as a trusted pupil and ally of Batman. Every comic fan wants to see some kind of Robin in the DCEU, so the chance to see Cass get some time in the spotlight is long – long – overdue.
9. Black Canary
Another no-brainer, since the ‘Birds of Prey’ – the superteam of which Dinah Lance a.k.a. Black Canary is a part – was also mentioned by name in the report of a Harley Quinn film. The namedrop comes at an interesting time, as the character was recently killed off of Arrow (to the anger of the fans), having never reached the same heights that her comic book counterpart got to. In fact, some readers might not even know that Black Canary had all the leadership and knowledge needed to be chosen to lead the entire Justice League as a whole.
We don’t know if such a high-profile role is in the cards for the DCEU, but if Batgirl or any other member of the Birds is going to appear, it seems only fair that Canary should, as well. Skilled in martial arts, she’s just as comfortable fighting the good fight in alleyways as Batman or Batgirl. But with Suicide Squad opening the door to actual superpowers, there’s no better time to see the Canary’s ear-splitting cry adapted into the DC movie universe.
8 & 7. Hawk & Dove
Two for one! It may seem like clever numbering, but Hawk and Dove really are a package deal. The twin titles have rotated over the years, until Dawn Granger received the power of the Dove as one of two avatars of the forces of Order and Chaos. The other one blessed with mystical powers? Her sister, Holly. As the peaceful Dove, Dawn need only sense danger (or just be in danger) and speak her superhero name to become the champion of Order, with supremely heightened skills, healing, and the gift of bird-like flight.
On the other hand, her sister Holly becomes Hawk, embodying the more chaotic side of the equation. A sister act seems like the perfect opportunity to once again do something new in the DCEU, and a female-led cast seems as good a place as any. Particularly when you learn that, should Dawn (Dove) fall in a fight, Hawk will be consumed by aggression and rage, until her sister awakens. Can you already see the action sequences in your mind? Because we can.
Another member of the Bat-Family who gets pushed to the edge of the spotlight: Kate Kane, former Westpoint student and military brat who was discharged from her family’s chosen career path due to her sexual orientation. Never one to give up a mission to battle evil and follow a strong, honorable commander, the moment Kate was attacked in Gotham City and rescued by the Batman set her future in motion. She, like the Bat, would adopt a costume to fight a new kind of war. A war that, refreshingly, her family completely supported.
There may not be all that much that differentiates Kate from Barbara, or any other Bat-Family member, but as a member of Gotham’s social elite, Kate Kane treads ground that is usually reserved for Bruce Wayne. And since his superhero alter ego is already appearing in Suicide Squad, the chance to incorporate Bruce Wayne’s socialite persona opposite Kate’sis one that shouldn’t be missed. Especially as Warner Bros. and DC seek to represent heroes and heroines from all walks of life.
She does her name proud, hailing from the planet Apokolips as one of the former members of Darkseid’s elite woman warriors – the Female Furies. She seemed more like a villain than a hero when she arrived – blessed with super strength, endurance, and healing – and seeing human beings as inherently less valuable than her own life. But the good news is that her ignorance of life’s value saw her wind up on not just Amanda Waller’s Suicide Squad, but the Secret Six (a team title we’ve been hoping to see adapted for some time).
If Justice League is expected to explore the planet Apokolips and the New Gods as much as Batman V Superman suggested, then the door will be open for a defector fleeing for Earth. With the threads and cast members already being spread from one franchise to another, a successful adaptation of Knockout – perhaps played by one of the MMA ladies often mentioned when discussing Wonder Woman casting? – could see her continue onto Suicide Squad sequels, or play a role when/if Darkseid’s forces arrive.
If the Suicide Squad is introducing the downright magical and mystical along with Wonder Woman, then we don’t think fans should have to wait until the problematic Justice League Dark film gets rolling to see the DC Universe’s greatest magician in action. Blessed with the ability to do just about anything if casting a spell demands it (commands spoken backwards), Zatanna is a serious Justice League-level heavy hitter. And where a literal magician/sorceress might test some film’s suspension of disbelief, we have to imagine a movie starring Harley Quinn will get some leeway (especially after the downright silly Deadpool).
Who knows? If Zatanna were positively received in this movie playing a small part perhaps, then a tease towards joining a team of similarly-skilled magic users might be just the push needed to get JLD moving forward once again. But we won’t hold our breath on that one.
3. Grace Choi
It seems fitting that Harley Quinn – a character seen as silly or cartoony by many, and problematic for live-action – should find shocking success, win a movie franchise all her own, and use it to give women every bit as singular and unlikely a hero the same chance. Enter Grace Choi (or simply ‘Grace’) – a half-Amazon woman born of a fractured sect of the ancient female race that left Themyscira behind in favor of a new city in Egypt. Possessing lesser forms of nearly all of Wonder Woman’s powers, Grace’s preference for a mercenary lifestyle (rather than that of a hero) made her the perfect candidate for the new Outsiders.
She’s best when disagreeing with the more heroic members of her team, favoring a fight where she can aim at a target and let loose than discussing the moral dilemmas of interfering. If this movie demands a heavyweight brawler – who expands on the mythology of the Amazons, and perhaps opens the door to an Outsiders franchise – then Grace will fit that description aggressively, and perfectly.
After making her debut on Arrow in the show’s third season, Katana will be even more faithfully adapted in Suicide Squad (played by Karen Fukuhara). It may be too soon to know for sure, but the swordstress’ skills, and a sword that captures the souls of every life it takes seems way too intriguing for just one film. So assuming she survives the movie – and Harley proves she’s a bit more than just a common criminal – a return from Katana would be both possible and worthwhile.
Her inclusion would make the most sense if the proposed story for the Harley Quinn movie (if it proves to actually be in development) continues directly out of Suicide Squad. With Harley presumably having won her freedom, the circumstances that would keep Katana close are impossible to guess. But if there’s one kind of comic book heroine we love, it’s a comic book heroine who communes with her dead husband in her sword. More, please.
Finally, we’ll end on a curveball. There may be some DC fans who hear the name ‘Copperhead’ and picture a male villain in a ridiculous snake suit, but we’re referring to the female version seen in the video game Batman: Arkham Origins – a re-imagining of the character that proved so effective among Origins’ design team, DC Comics Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns decided she should be added to the DC comic universe as well. Distinguished by her poisonous claws and fluid movements that would make a Cirque de Soleil dancer jealous, Copperhead is one creepy, deadly, but undeniably interesting villain for the heroes to encounter.
Watching the villain climb and slither around Batman in video game form may be hard to recreate in live-action, but the character design alone seem to beg for more than a video game appearance. And if a Harley Quinn movie is actually happening, and people are actually more excited than concerned… nothing is too weird anymore.
Those are all of our picks, bur let us know which female heroes and villains you would like to see in the movie, should it get made. Should the story stick to Gotham City’s darkest characters, or head to a new corner of the DCEU? Let us know in the comments, and stay tuned for more updates.
Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice is now playing in U.S. theaters. Suicide Squad will arrive on August 5, 2016, followed by Wonder Woman on June 2, 2017; Justice League Part One on November 17, 2017; The Flash on March 16, 2018; Aquaman on July 27, 2018; an untitled DC Film on October 5, 2018; Shazam on April 5, 2019; Justice League Part Two on June 14, 2019; an untitled DC film on November 1, 2019; Cyborg on April 3, 2020; and Green Lantern Corps on July 24, 2020.