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Birds of Prey in the comics

DC's live action universe has had tons of peaks and valleys, adding a level of fame outside of each movie's events. Warner Bros. has announced a ton of projects and cast/crew announcements, with quite a few falling through before they could get started. But while the Lobo movie and Man of Steel 2 seem unlikely, there are a handful of project being actively developed, including Birds of Prey.

While Aquaman, Shazam!, and Joker will be the next DC live-action movies to hit theaters, Cathy Yan's Birds of Prey movie has been assembling its cast and crew. Most recently, the film got its Cassandra Cain in the form of child actress Ella Jay Basco. While this is another exciting step forward, there also appears to be a synopsis for the still developing project, revealing how Cassandra fits into the narrative.

According to the casting news by Variety, Cassandra Cain is exactly the person who will be bringing the titular team of ladies together, and what will also put them in conflict with Black Mask (reportedly played by Ewan McGregor). The trio of leading heroes Huntress, Black Canary, and Renee Montoya will unite to protect Cassandra from the Batman villain and Gotham City crime lord, after she reportedly comes across a diamond owned by Black Mask. Somehow Harley Quinn will also get in on the fun, although it's unclear what side of the conflict she'll be on, if all of this news ends up holding up by the time the flick is in theaters.

Of course, this storyline has not been confirmed by the studio and it's still largely a mystery what Birds of Prey will shake up to be. The movie is clearly leaning on mob movie tropes, and is even being reportedly developed as an R-rated project. This should allow for the violence to be stepped up in an unprecedented way, as well as the subject matter and grit.

While Marvel is still dragging its feet over experimenting with an R-rated blockbuster, Birds of Prey and Todd Phillips' Joker have the potential to be the DC movie universe's first two movies crafted especially for adults-- which has the potential to really pay off at the box office. It could finally give the DC's movie universe something the MCU doesn't have, and would allow for a movie like Birds of Prey to more closely resemble the classic mob movies audiences know and love.

It should be interesting to see if the plot details for Birds of Prey end up staying true, or if things continue to change throughout the development process. The bare bones of Cathy Yan's movie are coming together, but things are no doubt very static and apt for change at present. Still, more news is coming out of Birds of Prey than long-awaited titles like Flashpoint or Matt Reeves' still-untitled Batman movie, so the female-focused project is looking likely to come up sooner rather than later. In fact, it even has a release date, currently set for February of 2020.

Black Mask in the comics

Cassandra Cain's inclusion Birds of Prey has the potential to open up a ton of additional Batman connections in the shared universe. Considering the uneasy status of Ben Affleck's role as the Dark Knight, this is a great way to keep Bat-fans tuned into the same Bat-station.

Cassandra Cain is best known for being one of the heroes to don the mantle of Batgirl, which she eventually abandons to go by the name Orphan. She's typically the daughter of two assassins, which is why her martial arts abilities are so stellar. Her parents are David Cain and Lady Shiva-- yet another iconic Batman rogue. So while Cain will be played by a younger actress in Birds of Prey, perhaps she'll eventually develop into another Batman protegee. Again, we'll have to wait and see.

Joining Ella Jay Basco's Cassandra Cain are a trio of actresses playing some of Gotham's finest. 10 Cloverfield Lane's Mary Elizabeth Winstead is playing Bat-family member Huntress, who has a more violent streak than characters like Batman or Robin. True Blood actress Jurnee Smollett-Bell is playing femme fatale Black Canary, with Rosie Perez portraying Detective Renee Montoya.

Margot Robbie's Harley Quinn will also factor into the story, although it's unclear exactly how. Harley was arguably the best part about David Ayer's Suicide Squad, and DC has big plans for the fan-favorite villain. She was last seen being broken out of prison by Jared Leto's Joker, presumably leaving her new family behind in the process. David Ayer himself supports the choice for Harley to join up with the Birds of Prey, although fingers are crossed for plenty of scene time with Ewan McGregor's Black Mask.

Birds of Prey is really helping Gotham City get fleshed out for the DC Universe, which will hopefully make way for the various other Gotham-centric properties. Matt Reeves' mysterious Batman movie is still in development as far the public knows, which has the potential to include the myriad characters introduced in Birds of Prey. There was also another movie announced that will star Jared Leto's Joker and Margot Robbie's Harley Quinn, although there haven't been any updated on that project in quite some time.

Chris McKay's Nightwing movie is still being worked on as well, with a proper script being developed before anything else moves forward. It's unclear if Nightwing would bring the title character to Gotham City or his signature city Bludhaven. But if the Bat-family is being included in the story, McKay might need to involve some of the character being brought in with Cathy Yan's upcoming superhero blockbuster.

Overall, it looks like Warner Bros. is going full speed ahead with the Birds of Prey movie, which should be a relief to all the DC fans out there. Despite all the announcements and vague plans, it's never clear if DC movies are official until they're in the can. So the sooner Birds of Prey goes into production, the better.

Birds of Prey is currently set to arrive in theaters on February 2nd, 2020, although release dates do often change as the various studios flesh out their schedules and 2020 is still a ways away. In the meantime, check out our 2019 release list to plan your next trip to the movies.

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