Warner Brothers has made some bold choices lately, charting their path forward by highlighting a key feature for their personnel in front and behind the camera: Women. First they announced Ava DuVernay will direct a New Gods movie and just last week announced a Birds of Prey movie directed by Cathy Yan. This female team up movie stood out to WB execs so much that they’re pushing back plans for a Suicide Squad sequel and the solo Batgirl film. The Birds of Prey features many incredibly popular characters from the Batman universe and other areas of DC canon. The only holdover character in this movie will be Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn. Considering Suicide Squad spent a lot of time making her out to be an anti-hero or someone beginning her redemption arc, it seems likely she will actually align herself with the Birds of Prey instead of a Sirens-like team. That is if Batgirl doesn’t want revenge for Robin first.
Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Barbara Gordon (Batgirl)
Batgirl is the leader of the team and the most important new character for this film. Fans will crave anything with the word Bat in front of it. She should be experienced, in her late 20’s not a teenager or college student. Mary Elizabeth Winstead has all the qualities to embody the role. Almost always playing commanding, no-nonsense characters, Winstead has also proven her action chops in movies like Scott Pilgrim vs. The World and 10 Cloverfield Lane. Time and time again, people fancast Emma Stone as Batgirl. Stone is undoubtedly a phenomenal actress but I don’t see her pulling off an intimidating voice and Zombieland aside, she has no action roles in her background.
Ana de Armas as Dinah Drake (Black Canary)
Black Canary is a more complex character than people give her credit. She is graceful, yet can blend into the grit of a dirty city street. She is nurturing, but won’t hesitate to call people out. She is cute but one of the best hand to hand fighters in the DC universe. Ana de Armas is best known for her role as Joi in Blade Runner 2049. Here she played holographic companion that adapted to whatever role or behavior was needed. She has seen her fair share of action between that movie as well as the car stealing movie Overdrive.
Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Shiera Hall (Hawkgirl)
This next character choice may anger a lot of hardcore comic readers. I don’t think the Huntress should be used in this movie. We already have two vigilantes who fight boots on the ground with their hands or handheld weapons. To vary the visual style of the action, DC should bring in some mysticism with Hawkgirl. There’s already so many aliens in the DCEU, this live action version of Hawkgirl should have the Egyptian lineage backstory and not be a Thanagarian alien. Gugu Mbatha-Raw is one of the best, young, untapped actress working today between her stand out roles in Black Mirror or A Wrinkle in Time.
Evan Rachel Wood as Pamela Isley (Poison Ivy)
It remains to be seen if Warner Brothers intends to use this female-centric corner of Gotham to introduce the Gotham City Sirens down the road. Harley is poised to be on the side of the heroes. Catwoman isn’t flat out evil, so the only member of Gotham Rogue’s gallery that could fit well here is Poison Ivy. Perhaps this movie could just introduce Ivy and have her sway Harley throughout the movie to then set up a turn for the sequel. Most know Evan Rachel Wood from her current role as Delores on Westworld. Her character on that show reflects Ivy well. She can start innocent, with wide-eyed curiosity, and end up a danger all her own while protecting that which makes her different. Ivy is a living trap, alluring from afar and dangerous up close. Wood has also played flirtatious in her previous HBO role in True Blood, as a vampire queen. Sassy and expressive, this history of her’s will come in handy when they put makeup on her as she transforms into Ivy.
Idris Elba as Roman Sionis (Black Mask)
Last fall, Idris Elba spoke out about his wish to play a comic character that was more in the forefront of a franchise now that the Thor trilogy is over. Soon after, I fancast him as many characters including Black Mask. One of Elba’s best known roles is that of Stringer Bell from HBO’s The Wire. A sophisticated criminal who knew how to evade arrest, Elba would know exactly how to play a kingpin in Gotham City. Back when it was thought that Suicide Squad director David Ayer would make a Sirens movie, he tweeted an image of Black Mask. If this bit of the story stayed in for the Birds of Prey film, Black Mask could play the villain that provides a street level threat as well as a disposable army of thugs to punch throughout.