Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) may have been critically well-received, but it didn’t exactly light up the box office. Fan reception was also split with some finding it to be one of the better DC Comics movies of recent years and others thinking it was a huge misfire. (I’m somewhere in between those two extremes.)
Although no direct sequel to the film has been announced yet as of this writing, a spin-off film or series focusing on Jurnee Smollett’s Black Canary is currently in the works for HBO Max. As well, Batgirl, who was an original member of the team in the comics, has a solo film coming out later this year in December with In the Height‘s Leslie Grace in the lead role. The possibility for a Birds of Prey 2 has never been stronger, so here is my pitch for what I want to see in a sequel to the 2020 film, Birds of Prey.
More Batgirl and Less Harley Quinn
I never fully understood why Warner Bros. and DC would make a Birds of Prey film without one of its founding members. Batgirl should have always been a part of the team over Harley Quinn, but I won’t deny the star power of Margot Robbie. She was definitely the main reason I saw Birds of Prey.
However, for the sequel, I’m cutting Harley Quinn loose. The next time I want to see Harley Quinn in the DC Extended Universe is either in another Suicide Squad film or a Gotham City Sirens adaptation.
Instead, my lineup for the Birds of Prey would focus on four female superheroes that would be already established in the DCEU. I would bring back both Jurnee Smollett and Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Dinah Lance / Black Canary and Helena Bertinelli / The Huntress from the first film while adding Leslie Grace’s Barbara Gordon / Batgirl. Finally, I’d throw in Karen Fukuhara’s Tatsu Yamashiro / Katana, who hasn’t been seen since 2016’s Suicide Squad, as the final member of the team.
All four characters have appeared as members of the Birds of Prey throughout its comics history. I think adding Batgirl and Katana to the team opposite Black Canary and Huntress would add a new dynamic to the ensemble while still feeling familiar to fans of the first film and the DCEU as a whole.
A Strong Supporting Cast of Allies
The first Birds of Prey had a very unmemorable supporting cast. Beyond Victor Zsasz and Cassandra Cain, I cannot recall another supporting character that appeared in the movie (and Wikipedia tells me there were plenty). I don’t think we need to make that mistake again. I want the supporting cast to have an active role in the film, but not outshine the main quartet or villains of the picture.
Therefore, I have chosen five characters that I think would compliment the Birds of Prey and enrich the story. The first two would be Commissioner Gordon (J. K. Simmons) and Nightwing (Dylan O’Brien, if the rumors are true), who would have small roles aiding Batgirl at the start of the film. This would build upon any relationships established in the Batgirl film and tease a future Nightwing project.
Next would be the return of Rosie Perez’s Detective Renee Montoya, who has relocated to Star City sometime after the first film. She has returned to the force working for the Star City Police Department, which is under the watchful eye of Commissioner Vic Sage (Wesley Snipes would be who I’d cast). When he’s not running the SCPD, Vic Sage moonlights as The Question, a vigilante detective.
Finally, the film would feature Oliver Queen (Charlie Hunnam because let’s give the fans what they want) sans the Green Arrow identity. It would be revealed that he is in an on-again/off-again with Dinah Lance, and that they both know each other’s secret identity. The scene would feature a glimpse at Queen’s impeccable archery skills.
Where and When in the DCEU
The first Birds of Prey took place mainly in Gotham City, but I want to switch that up for the sequel. I want viewers to see new locations in the DC Extended Universe. That said, at least 25 per cent of the film would still take place in Gotham to reestablish Leslie Grace’s Batgirl before the action moves to Star City for the remainder of the movie.
As for the when in the DCEU timeline the movie would take place, I’m aiming for mid-2024. It would be at least four years after the events of Birds of Prey and about one year after Batgirl. That would allow for a slightly more experienced Batgirl and a better working relationship between the original Birds of Prey team (Huntress, Black Canary, and Renee Montoya).
League of Assassins as the Villains
Black Mask acted as a good villain for the team to rally together and stop given that they all had something worth fighting for. However, for the sequel, I want the team to go up against a threat not because of a personal reason, but out of a loyalty and responsibility to save their city and its citizens. To act like the heroes the public views them as.
That is why I would like to see the League of Assassins as the villains of Birds of Prey 2. Specifically, Lady Shiva (Brenda Song, casting against type) and Joe Manganiello’s Deathstroke would act as the main villains, who are in charge of the League of Assassins while in Star City. Ra’s al Ghul would be mentioned, but not appear.
The film would also feature the return of Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje’s Killer Croc in a small role at the beginning of the film, which would set up the larger conflict. The Calculator (played by Michael Emmerson let’s say) would also appear as someone the League has broken out of prison to help accomplish their plans.
The inclusion of two formidable fighters—Lady Shiva and Deathstroke—would allow for some amazing choreographed fight sequences between the two and the Birds of Prey (particularly Katana versus Lady Shiva, and Batgirl and Huntress versus Deathstroke). Throw in a small army of assassins to keep the rest of the team busy and we have a third act that would not skimp on the action.
Keep the Story Straightforward
Movies don’t have to be complicated. As long as you can keep your audience engaged, who cares how simple the story might be. We already know a Birds of Prey sequel isn’t going to win any prestigious awards, so there’s no point in the writers trying to come across as clever or smart. Give us a fun, action-packed film that’s a brisk two hours. There’s no need to setup anything. We’re already familiar with the characters since they’ve been introduced in previous films. Just drop us into the middle of the action and let us figure out the rest.
The League of Assassins are planning something. They’ve chosen Star City to be the grounds to set this plan in motion. They’ve hired Killer Croc to retrieve a part for a machine they are building that is located at Wayne Enterprises in Gotham City. Batgirl responds to the disturbance at Wayne Enterprises. Nightwing also arrives. He’s in from Blüdhaven to visit Alfred. They aren’t able to stop Killer Croc because the Calculator has hacked the security at Wayne Enterprises and traps Batgirl and Nightwing in a room allowing Killer Croc to escape into the sewers.
In Star City, Renee Montoya works for the Star City Police Department, and has a very good business relationship with Vic Sage, the Commissioner of the Star City Police Department, and The Question. Montoya also helps Black Canary and Huntress fight crime in Star City. Batgirl tracks down Killer Croc—who has been given a nice payout from the League of Assassins and is celebrating at a local dive bar—and gets information from him. After a chat with her father, Commissioner Gordon, she heads to Star City to investigate. There she runs into the Huntress. Initially hesitant of each other, they briefly fight before Black Canary silences them both.
Somewhere throughout this, we have Katana investigating the League of Assassins. Turns out that she was raised to become part of the League before the events of Suicide Squad, but had escaped as a teenager due to differing beliefs. She has been working to bring them down since then. She also has a history with Lady Shiva as they were both trained and brought up in the League together. (All of this could be explored in a Katana limited series on HBO Max.)
Lady Shiva and the League of Assassins come to Star City. They have hired Deathstroke as extra muscle. Batgirl, Huntress, Black Canary, and Katana band together to defeat Lady Shiva, Deathstroke, and the League. At some point in the third act, Vic Sage (as the Question) would die at the hands of an assassin and give Montoya a flashdrive which contains his life’s work as the Question teasing Montoya taking up the mantle. After the dust settles and with the League’s plan foiled, Batgirl would set up a form of communication between the Birds of Prey members so that they could contact one another when the need arose.
Three Credits Scenes to Set Up Future Films
While I fully agree with the recent comments made by Warner Bros. executive Toby Emmerich where he states that the “secret of the movie business is quality” and that the “movies don’t have to all have the same tone, or interlock with other DC movies, or have an Easter egg that sets up another film” I feel like team-up movies need to at least hint at what’s to come next.
Based off of my Birds of Prey 2 pitch, these are the scenes I envision the film including during the middle and end of its credits. The first, a mid-credits scene, would set up a Nightwing solo movie with Blockbuster as the villain. It would consist of Grayson packing up his suit in the Batcave and having a quick chat with Alfred (Jeremy Irons) before heading back to Blüdhaven.
The second mid-credits scene would set up that Black Canary series we keep hearing about. It would feature Oliver Queen and Black Canary setting the stage for the Green Arrow to be a main character in the series, as well as setting up his own solo movie.
Finally, the post-credits scene would tease a loose adaptation of Under the Red Hood. Ra’s al Ghul (who we only see from the back or in the shadows, allowing an A-list actor to be cast for his next appearance) is soaking in the Lazarus pit. A League of Assassins member tells him of the Star City project’s failure. However, the member reveals that they were able to bring something else back with them from the States. Cut to a shot of a coffin being moved into Nada Parbat. The coffin has a name carved into the wood: Jason Todd. If Affleck’s Batman will officially exit the DCEU in The Flash (either through death or time travel shenanigans) then I could still see the idea working with Keaton’s Batman. In fact, it would allow us a glimpse into the missing years of Keaton’s Batman post-Batman Returns and could set the stage for Damian Wayne entering the DCEU.
Just like how James Gunn soft-rebooted the Suicide Squad in the DCEU, the potential is now there for a director to come in and revamp the Birds of Prey in a similar manner.
With talented actors already cast, and solo projects for Black Canary and Batgirl on the horizon, now is the perfect time for Warner Bros. to announce a sequel to Birds of Prey.
If done correctly, it could be the film to right the sinking ship and sail the DCEU onto brighter days.