Several key The Batman and Birds of Prey actors have contract options for standalone films and sequels. As DC continues planning its post-Zack Snyder/Justice League DCEU future, the upcoming Batman movie with Robert Pattinson and Harley Quinn-led Birds of Prey starring Margot Robbie are emerging as key pieces to the puzzle.
Though both movies revolve around well-known central characters who are well-established in comic book and film lore, both Batman and Birds of Prey will also introduce new takes on other key DC comics characters, particularly of the villainous and anti-heroic variety, some of whom have not been featured in films before. The Batman indeed will bring in a trio of iconic characters in Catwoman (Zoë Kravitz), The Riddler (Paul Dano) and The Penguin (Colin Farrell), as well as employing familiar supporting characters like Alfred (Andy Serkis), Jim Gordon (Jeffrey Wright) and Carmine Falcone (John Turturro). Birds of Prey too features the movie debut of a big DC villain in Black Mask (Ewan McGregor), along with less-well-known female characters like Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), Black Canary (Jurnee Smollett-Bell) and Casandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco).
It remains to be seen if any of the rogues' gallery of characters from The Batman or Birds of Prey will get their own standalone films as DC unfolds its future plans, but according to Variety, several key actors in the two films do have contract clauses that would allow them to return. Unfortunately, the story does not specify which actors are in line to possibly return in sequels and/or spinoff vehicles. It's of course natural to assume Pattinson and Robbie are both signed on for multiple movies.
It is of course no surprise to hear that DC is paving the way for certain characters from The Batman to perhaps get their own standalone films. Given the massive box office success of Todd Phillips’ Joker, it seems only a matter of time before more Batman villains like The Riddler, Catwoman and The Penguin receive their own Joker-style origin films that perhaps veer away from established canon much the way Phillips’ film did in telling the story of Joaquin Phoenix’s Arthur Fleck. Of course, setting up the characters first in The Batman perhaps limits what can be done later in terms of altering origin stories. As for Birds of Prey, it seems Black Mask is another character who could get the standalone treament later on, or perhaps Huntress and Black Canary could find themselves again on the big screen, either alongside Harley Quinn or in a different adventure.
Much is still very speculative about what DC will and will not do in the coming years, but it seems the success of Joker has helped establish a way forward, which could mean more R-rated DC movies, and standalone films that veer away from the shared universe concept and give creative filmmakers the freedom to craft their own unique takes on familiar characters. It’s also possible that some of the characters could make their way to streaming via DC Universe, in much the same way Marvel is spinning its MCU characters off into streaming series via Disney+. It will be interesting to see what else might be set up as The Batman and Birds of Prey finally make their way to the big screen.