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Signs That The DCEU Is Moving Away From The Bat-Family

As the DCEU continues to expand, Batman and the Bat-family's role in the universe seems to be shrinking. At least, that's what the Cathy Yan-directed Birds of Prey seems to indicate. The Margot Robbie-fronted film will introduce Cassandra Cain, who many fans will know as the Batgirl successor to originator Barbara Gordon.

Birds of Prey is one of many Harley Quinn-centric films in development and appears to have taken precedent over Suicide Squad 2Gotham City Sirens and a Joker love story. This brings with it a host of other female DC characters from both sides of the aisle, some of them with bigger DCEU implications. At one point, Batman-related movies looked to be the universe's future. Now, considerably less so.

Related: Every DC Film Supposedly Filming In 2019

Cain won't be dawning any Bat-symbols, instead appearing as the assassin she's trained as in her origins, but her role suggests some interesting developments in the timeline. Between this and the lack of material developments on both the solo Batman flick and Nightwing, as well as what's already been established as canon in this universe, the Dark Knight appears to be taking a backseat for the immediate future.

Has Cassandra Cain Replaced Barbara Gordon As Batgirl?

Introduced in 1999 by Kelley Puckett and Damion Scott, Cassandra Cain is an Asian girl raised by assassin David Cain to be the ultimate killer and perfect bodyguard for Ra's Al-Ghul. Unable to read or write, the only thing Cassandra can understand is body language, which she can read on a superhuman level, being able to predict people's movements to an incredible degree. After performing her first kill under David's watch, she gets an inkling that what she's doing is wrong and flees, eventually re-surfacing later as one of Oracle's agents in Gotham City.

Cassandra's presence in Birds of Prey is interesting. It places the timeline of Barbara Gordon in an odd position. Cassandra was first brought in as an agent of Oracle, the moniker Barbara operated under post-paralysis in the Killing Joke. As a tech guru and information wiz, Oracle would be an incredible asset to Batman and the city of Gotham in their struggles against evil. Cain would eventually earn Batman's trust as an asset to the team and become the next Batgirl under Gordon's guidance.

Related: Every DC Villain Movie In Development

The assumption (and current word) is that Barbara Gordon already exists in the DCEU, and that she has already been paralyzed and become Oracle (and the Batgirl cowl has been unused for a period of time). That's a lot of classic comics history to gloss over in a movie, especially given that it includes at least one of Batman's most beloved stories. And if they go a different route and re-write Cain's story, that's a very hefty set of alterations since so much of it is tied to Oracle – the two even lived together for a not insignificant amount of time. Either way, there's a lot of questions to be answered.

Justice League Already Cut A Reference To The Bat-Family

The behind-the-scenes drama surrounding the DCEU between Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Justice League has totally reshaped the DCEU; after the controversy surrounding Batman v Superman, Warner Bros. effectively scrapped director Zack Snyder's plans to set-up for Justice League 2, and reshot and re-edited massive chunks of the movie as a tonal DCEU course correction. The film released in theaters wasn't well-received and didn't make a lot of money, but the band-aid was ripped off.

One of the alterations some keen-eyed fans noticed was a line from Commissioner Gordon that was changed seemingly to undermine plans for an established canon. During the scene where the Commissioner meets the Bat and the rest of his League friends on the rooftop, in trailers he says “it's good to see you playing well with others again”, meanwhile the final version cuts out the word “again.” One plays on the implication that Batman at one point had a team or Robin by his side, the other doesn't, removing a subtle nod to the existence of the Bat family.

We know Batman does have a past with sidekicks due to the Robin costume in BvS, which planted the idea that this Batman had worked with Jason Todd as Robin, who was presumably killed by The Joker as in the A Death in the Family comics storyline. Zack Snyder and Ben Affleck's Dark Knight was intended to be an older, more weathered take on the character, carrying with him all this baggage from years of horror and tragedy in watching over Gotham. In moving away from Snyder's plans, Warner Bros. likely also wanted to wipe the slate clean of hints to other prominent characters so they could introduce them with as little over-hanging history as possible, though that still brings into question other creative decisions.

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Key Release Dates
  • Aquaman (2018) release date: Dec 21, 2018
  • Shazam! (2019) release date: Apr 05, 2019
  • Wonder Woman 1984 (2020) release date: Jun 05, 2020
  • Joker (2019) release date: Oct 04, 2019
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