With the finale of Smallville fading into memory this year, it’s time DC start thinking about what it could do next. Maybe its time they trade in the Smallville for Gotham City with a revitalized Birds of Prey series.
Birds of Prey is a Mission: Impossible-esque team of super-heroes and covert operatives recruited and orchestrated by Barbara Gordon, the former Batgirl who loss the use of her legs after an attack by the Joker. As a series it’s become the most popular female-fronted series in comics second only to Wonder Woman, and has carved out a niche for itself in DC and in comics in general. The first Birds of Prey series years ago carried a mighty buzz, but after its debut episode it fizzled due to a trivial story and a cast that didn’t mesh with viewers or each other. This would change that.
Although this isn’t the first Birds of Prey television series attempted, it’s another property that would cast a longer shadow on it:: Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy. With the upcoming Batman Rises announced to be the final outing for Nolan, a Birds of Prey series could dovetail (no pun intended) into the Batman mythos that’s been set up over the past ten years to open up a broader world to be explored in serialized television. But done correctly, DC could outdo Marvel at their own-game of inter-connective movies by bringing it to television.
To make it work, a Birds of Prey series should work in the same over-arching universe that Nolan’s Batman trilogy worked; although not many of those films’ actors could probably show up in a television series, the key thing to carry over is the visual style and substance the film series had. Gordon’s prior life as Batgirl should be shrouded in mystery – one of the key mysteries of the series, in fact – with it being doled out in drips and drabs over the life of the series. For Birds of Prey, the series should be set in a Gotham where Batman rarely seen and rarely heard of, opening up a hole that Gordon commits herself to filling despite being bound to a wheelchair.
For the series itself, Birds of Prey could stick to the formula of Gordon orchestrating a pair of agents – Black Canary and the Huntress — to fight crime in any shape or size. Consider it a super-human version of a crime procedural, set in Gotham City. They would go up against foes like Savant, Lady Shiva, and the Twelve Brothers In Silk. In some instances they could have guest stars acting as new recruits into the Birds of Prey, offering an opening for new story potential when called for.
And keep in mind that while Christian Bale may not be free to appear in a Birds of Prey television series, Batman works just as well as a minor character seen in shadows that could alleviate the need for major screen time and allow a stand-in to assume the role.
Barbara Gordon / Oracle – Sophie Lowe: Although Birds of Prey might benefit for a more high-profile actress, Australian Sophie Lowe has it where it really counts: skills. Look up her films Beautiful Kate and Blame, and you’ll see she’s a diamond in the rough. She possesses a girl-next-door quality that’s endearing, with also a tough edge and a physicality that can come into use for dramatic scenes and in flashbacks.
Black Canary – Taylor Momsen: Although she’s reportedly sworn off acting in favor of music, Taylor Momsen could be a powder keg if put into the role of Black Canary. Trouble off-camera aside, Momsen could bring a ferocity to this kick-ass role even without the sonic scream and fill out the costume as well.
Huntress – Tania Raymonde: After appearing as a child in Lost and Malcolm in the Middle, actress Tania Raymonde is ready to step up and into her own as Huntress in Birds of Prey. She has an upcoming role in the new Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3D, and could easily deliver a commanding performance and act as last part of the Birds of Prey trio.
Brian Durlin / Savant – Bradley James: He’s best known for his chivalry in the UK series Merlin, but Bradley James could be the hero-gone-wrong for Birds of Prey as Savant. He looks like he was born into money, and could come into Gotham with his agent, Creote.
Lady Shiva – Chiaki Kuriyama: She left a sizzling impression on audiences with her role as Gogo Yubari in Kill Bill 1, but since then Kuriyama has kept to Japan for her movie roles. She’s spent the last few years starring and co-starring in various movies, and her filling out the long-running role of Lady Shiva would be a striking appearance for movie fans and a new entry into American films for the actress.