It seems unlikely that a proposed Birds of Prey television show set in the Arrowverse will fly onto screens in time for next year's television season. While the classic comic book series about a team of all-women vigilantes has a loyal cult following, there is too much standing in the way of a show based on it becoming a reality.
It was reported recently that The CW would be seeking a new superhero series to replace Arrow, which would premiere in the Fall of 2020. Actress Katie Cassidy Rodgers, who has played the character of Laurel Lance on Arrow since season 1, proposed a Birds of Prey show fill this gap in the schedule. The exact details of the pitch are unknown, but would presumably involve Cassidy Rodgers playing some version of Laurel Lance leading a team of female crime-fighters.
While there are undoubtedly many who would like to see such a series, a Birds Of Prey show seems like a long shot for a variety of reasons. Chief among these are the upcoming release of a Birds Of Prey movie and WB's tradition of restricting live-action to one iteration of a character at a time. There is also the problem of how poorly the classic Birds of Prey concept would fit into the modern Arrowverse and the ultimate purpose of such a show.
Warner Bros. Is All About The Birds Of Prey Movie
Ironically, the biggest obstacle standing in the way of a Birds of Prey television series is the upcoming Birds of Prey movie. Scheduled to open in theaters in February 2020, Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) will star Margot Robbie, who will be reprising her role as Harley Quinn from the 2016 Suicide Squad movie. Robbie is also a producer on the film and, having been offered her pick of projects for a Harley Quinn focused movie, reportedly insisted on making a Birds Of Prey film, so as to boost the profile of some of DC Comics' less-recognized heroines.
The general attitude of Warner Bros. over the past decade has been that they do not like to have multiple versions of the same fictional characters existing in different live-action properties at the same time, for fear of confusing audiences. This led to Arrow being forced to abandoned a long-planned arc involving their version of the Suicide Squad and their killing off their versions of Deadshot and Amanda Waller. This tradition still seems to be in effect, with Warner Bros. denying the Arrowverse shows the right to depict Batman in any capacity in anticipation of the upcoming release of The Batman.
While The CW has found some clever workarounds to the policy (such as officially casting Kevin Conroy as Bruce Wayne rather than Batman in the upcoming Crisis On Infinite Earths event), it seems unlikely that Warner Bros. will allow the same flexibility when it comes to Birds of Prey. Margot Robbie is a major power player in Hollywood and her commitment to the projects involving her take on Harley Quinn is such that she was offered the chance to voice Harley in the upcoming Harley Quinn animated series before the role was opened to auditions, despite it being unlikely that she'd have time to lend her voice to the cartoon. Given that, it seems unlikely that Warner Bros. would move forward on a Birds of Prey show without Robbie being involved in some capacity or that they would produce a show with the Birds of Prey name that didn't feature Harley Quinn as the star, for fear of turning off fans of the film.
No Oracle = No Birds Of Prey
Another cruel irony lies within the fact that the key objection fans of the Birds of Prey comics have to the upcoming movie could also be a problem for a proposed Birds of Prey television series; namely that there is no Oracle. The original Birds of Prey comics centered around a partnership between the wheelchair-bound detective and hacker Barbara "Oracle" Gordon and master martial artist Dinah "Black Canary" Lance. While the team expanded after writer Gail Simone took over the book, recruiting Helena "Huntress" Bertinelli and then other DC Comics superheroines, the core of Birds of Prey has always been the relationship between Barbara and Dinah.
The Arrowverse acquired their own Oracle in the form of white-hat hacker Felicity "Overwatch" Smoak, who had been intended to become paralyzed and was even teased as Oracle. While the idea of a Birds of Prey series teaming Felicity with at least one of the Canaries has been suggested before and was explored in Arrow, season 7, episode 18, "Lost Canary," it would be impossible for that to happen in the wake of Felicity leaving the show in the Season 7 finale. With actress Emily Bett Rickards having moved on to other projects, the new Birds of Prey show would have to introduce a new Oracle figure to emulate the original comics. This would leave this new character facing an uphill battle in trying to win over fans of both Barbara Gordon and Felicity Smoak.
Cassidy's "Time For Women" Argument Rings Hollow
When asked about her pitch for a Birds of Prey show and the justification for the show's existence, Katie Cassidy Rodgers said only that "It’s time for women." One can certainly appreciate the sentiment of Cassidy Rodgers' statement, particularly in the light of the work that she and her fellow CW superheroines perform as part of their on-line feminist platform, Shethority. Nevertheless, while it is true female creators face severe sexism in the comic book industry and in Hollywood and female superheroes tend to be depicted in an overtly sexual fashion, The CW is perhaps the only major producer of comic book related entertainment that can't be accused of failing to offer women an equal slice of the pie.
Consider the ensemble superhero series Legends of Tomorrow. The season 4 team of Legends featured a predominantly female group of heroes, with Sara Lance (Caity Lotz) acting as the Captain of the Waverider and her girlfriend Ava Sharpe (Jess Macallan) serving as the Director of the Time Bureau. Throw in the fact that half of the current roster of Arrowverse shows for Fall 2019 center around female leads (with Supergirl starting its fifth season and Batwoman premiering in October). The genre has been dominated by men for so long that there's nothing wrong with the pendulum swinging the other way for a time, but the CW doesn't need the help of Birds Of Prey to cross that bridge, and Cassidy Rodgers' implication that it's not already the age of the female hero on the CW doesn't seem to ring true.
- Joker (2019) release date: Oct 04, 2019
- Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) (2020) release date: Feb 07, 2020
- Wonder Woman 1984 (2020) release date: Jun 05, 2020
- Aquaman 2 (2022) release date: Dec 16, 2022
- The Batman (2021) release date: Jun 25, 2021
- The Suicide Squad (2021) release date: Aug 06, 2021