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It is pretty common in Hollywood to see a slew of highly anticipated blockbusters (often superheroes movies) become stuck in development hell, and for various reasons. The DC movies have actually been pretty notorious for how many of their titles have befallen (and are still suffering to this day from) such a fate, including Gotham City Sirens - inspired by a comic book series of the same name featuring the team-up of Harley Quinn (said to be reprised by Margot Robbie in the adaptation), Catwoman, and Poison Ivy. To figure out how such a million dollar idea would begin to show signs of ultimately amounting to nothing, let’s take a look at the most notable events surrounding the project, starting with the first flash of the green light.
A Harley Quinn Spin-Off Movie Was Announced In May 2016
Before future Oscar-winning superhero movie Suicide Squad had even been released in theaters on August 5, 2016, anticipation was running high for director David Ayer’s DC supervillain crossover - especially for the live action debut of Harley Quinn, as played by Australian actress Margot Robbie. In May, Warner Bros. responded to the hype by announcing that the Clown Princess of Crime was getting her own spin-off, adding that she would be sharing the spotlight with a few other unspecified female foes.
At first, fans assumed that this was an adaptation of the Birds of Prey comic, only to discover the following December that it was a Gotham City Sirens movie, which would be directed by David Ayer and would potentially see the big screen returns of Poison Ivy and Catwoman. As we would come to find out, this was only the beginning of DC’s plans for Harley Quinn-related spin-offs.
A Joker/Harley Quinn Spin-Off Movie Was Also Announced In 2017
As the DC Extended Universe was just getting put into motion, a plethora of spin-offs and solo movies were planned - only a handful of which are actually in production or have already been shot, such as The Flash or The Batman, which is no longer directed by or starring Ben Affleck in the lead, of course. One such project that did not make it that far was tentatively titled Harley Quinn vs. The Joker, which was announced in mid 2017 as a vehicle for Margot Robbie and Jared Leto’s toxic onscreen romance to take center stage.
The Joker/Harley Quinn spin-off later found its directors in Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, the duo behind Crazy Stupid Love and the romantic Will Smith/Margot Robbie crime drama Focus. Meanwhile, there was already some concern over who was filling that position for Gotham City Sirens.
David Ayers Shot Down Rumors He Was Leaving Gotham City Sirens In Summer 2017
It only took a little more than a year after Gotham City Sirens was announced for fans to begin speculating on the mortality of the project. For one, when the DCEU released its projected lineup of upcoming movies that July, the Harley Quinn-led spin-off was nowhere to be found.
However, David Ayer (in one of a few different times he would have to calm the storms surrounding Gotham City Sirens) hinted that he and the movie were not going anywhere by tweeting a photo of an illustrated Harley Quinn sporting a menacing gaze through a hole in a door a la Jack Nicholson in The Shining. Not to mention, he had previously hinted on the platform that Harley, Catwoman and Ivy would be taking on Black Mask in the film. However, the DC crime boss would actually end up appearing in a different movie that was quietly being set in motion.
Margot Robbie Teased Another Harley Quinn Solo Film In Late 2017
By December 2017, Margot Robbie was already slated to reprise Harley Quinn in three movies - namely Gotham City Sirens, the Joker/Harley Quinn spin-off, and a direct sequel to Suicide Squad from 2016. Thus, it almost sounded like a villainous trick when the I, Tonya star teased that she had a fourth Harley-cenric solo movie in the works.
Said film would turn out to be Birds of Prey: and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn, which would end up becoming the only film in that projected line-up to beat the odds and actually get made (unless you count James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad, which is not exactly Suicide Squad 2). The female-centric team-up movie, which saw Margot Robbie (who also produced) share the screen with more heroic characters like Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), came out on February 7, 2020, shortly after we received a relatively disappointing update on Gotham City Sirens.
In January 2020, David Ayer Confirmed Gotham City Sirens Was On Hold
By early 2020, for every person who was excited for Birds of Prey, there were other fans who were concerned about the status of the other female-centric DC movie they had not heard much about in the previous few years. David Ayer was on a Television Critics Association panel promoting the Fox drama Deputy in January when SlashFilm asked him about Gotham City Sirens, to which he said that it was now on indefinite hold.
More than a year later, the spin-off remains in that same position. At the same time, we still have yet to see the sequel to David Ayer’s Netflix original fantasy drama Bright, which the filmmaker promised would happen soon at the same panel, but that’s another story.
Margot Robbie Expressed Continued Interest In Gotham City Sirens After Birds Of Prey Released In February 2020
In the same month that David Ayer confirmed Gotham City Sirens was put on pause, Margot Robbie explained why Birds of Prey became the more prioritized project. She she saw an opportunity to put underused female DC characters like Black Canary (Jurnee Smollett) or Renee Montoya (Rose Perez) into the spotlight.
The following month, soon after the film came out, Margot Robbie said that she was still very much interested in doing the Gotham City Sirens movie, but clarified that she had no knowledge of what plans Warner Bros. still had for the project. It would be a while before the proposed spin-off made any headlines again, but not for the most favorable reason.
James Gunn Shot Down Rumors About Taking Over Gotham City Sirens In 2021
Following the rousing critical and commercial reception to The Suicide Squad, whether or not writer and director James Gunn would return for another DC film was put into question, especially since Disney brought him back for more Marvel movies after temporarily firing him in 2018. This would evolve into rumors that the Guardians of the Galaxy movies helmer was taking over another project once associated with David Ayer, Gotham City Sirens.
By responding to a tweet essentially demanding James Gunn to include Catwoman in the Gotham City Sirens movie, the filmmaker confirmed that he had never even "discussed or considered" taking the reins on the film, which he described as a "non-existent project." By saying this, Gunn probably only means that his version of Gotham City Sirens is not happening, but with how few updates we have received in the past year, it is easy to wonder if the project still exists.
With that being the most recent update we have about Gotham City Sirens, it could be safe to say that we should not be expecting Harley Quinn, Poison Ivy, and Catwoman on the big screen anytime soon - at least in the same movie. I mean, The Batman cast Zoë Kravitz as Selina Kyle, I have little doubt we will be seeing Margot Robbie in another DC project sooner or later, and Poison Ivy definitely deserves another shot in a live action feature. Even a DC fan like me would happy to accept this reality, but stranger things have happened, so I would not lose hope just yet.
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Jason Wiese writes feature stories for CinemaBlend. His occupation results from years dreaming of a filmmaking career, settling on a "professional film fan" career, studying journalism at Lindenwood University in St. Charles, MO (where he served as Culture Editor for its student-run print and online publications), and a brief stint of reviewing movies for fun. He would later continue that side-hustle of film criticism on TikTok (@wiesewisdom), where he posts videos on a semi-weekly basis. Look for his name in almost any article about Batman.