Gotham will be the setting for Birds of Prey, but it reportedly won't have its protector Batman. Margot Robbie's return as Harley Quinn is finally taking shape. After Warner Bros. and DC developed four different projects that would conceivably be led by Harley, it is Birds of Prey that first gets to utilize the Suicide Squad breakout. The project will be directed by Cathy Yan and just recently named Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Jurnee Smollett-Bell as its Huntress and Black Canary respectively.
The casting decision comes right on the heels of WB giving Birds of Prey an early 2020 release date. This had been expected as production looked ready to begin early next year. With more details now surfacing, the larger plot of Birds of Prey is still largely mysterious. But, a new piece of intel offers a setting and a major question.
Deadline is responsible for breaking Winstead and Smollett-Bell's castings but also shared an intriguing tidbit. The line in question says, "They join Margot Robbie who reprises her Suicide Squad role of Harley Quinn in a Gotham that isn’t protected by Batman." Yes, that would mean that Gotham is the main location for Birds of Prey, but also will make many wonder why Batman is not protecting his city.
Update: Daniel R tweeted a little more detail, indicating there is a line in the script that revealed Batman had been absent from Gotham for two years prior to Birds of Prey. See the full tweet below.
The first possibility that some could jump to is that this shows Birds of Prey is actually the latest Elseworlds property by WB and DC, like Joaquin Phoenix's Joker. This is highly unlikely since Robbie is part of the DCEU continuity, so it would be even more confusing for casual fans if she played the character in both the DCEU and an Elseworlds story. Since an Elseworlds story is not likely in the realm of possibility, then where is Batman?
This could be the result of the entire Batman problem that has plagued the DCEU for the last year and a half. Ben Affleck reportedly wants out and The Batman director Matt Reeves is reportedly making a movie that takes place in Bruce Wayne's younger days. Since WB and DC may not yet know exactly what future Affleck or Batman has, the simplest solution is to just not have him around. Does this mean after Justice League Batman has left Gotham in a state of chaos? Possibly, and maybe that's why the Birds of Prey are formed.
What we do know about Birds of Prey's plot is that they'll be reportedly battling Black Mask. The Cassandra Cain version of Batgirl is reportedly to be central to the story, as she may have even been taken by Black Mask, with the Birds of Prey setting out on a rescue mission for the young girl. Casting for Cain, Black Mask, and even Renee Montoya have not yet happened. Those announcements should be up next for Birds of Prey, and hopefully those could bring further clarity to the Gotham setting and Batman's disappearance.
Update source: Daniel R
- Aquaman (2018) release date: Dec 21, 2018
- Shazam! (2019) release date: Apr 05, 2019
- Joker (2019) release date: Oct 04, 2019
- Wonder Woman 1984 (2020) release date: Jun 05, 2020
- Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) (2020) release date: Feb 07, 2020