Just two days after setting a release date for Birds of Prey, Warner Bros. has reportedly added two cast members in Mary Elizabeth Winstead (10 Cloverfield Lane, Fargo) and Jurnee Smolett-Bell (Underground). Winstead will play Helena Bertinelli aka Huntress, while Smolett-Bell will portray Dinah Laurel Lance aka Black Canary. The two actresses join Margot Robbie, who is set to reprise her role of Harley Quinn from 2016’s dumpster fire Suicide Squad.
In the comics of the same name that Birds of Prey is based on, Bertinelli is a former mafia princess who lost her family at a young age – like Batman – and became a vigilante, by the name of Huntress. Lance’s alter ego Black Canary comes from her superpower, an ultrasonic attack known as “Canary Cry”. Black Canary is also a highly-skilled martial artist in the comics.
Deadline reports that Winstead was in the running alongside Sofia Boutella (Star Trek Beyond), Cristin Milioti (How I Met Your Mother), and Margaret Qualley (Death Note). Smolett-Bell, meanwhile, was up against Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Black Mirror). According to an earlier report, Birds of Prey still has two more female anti-hero roles to fill: Cassandra Cain, and Renee Montoya.
Interestingly, the new report only mentions Montoya – Justina Machado (One Day at a Time) and Roberta Colindrez (Vida) are circling the role, it adds – which suggests that Cain’s role might have been cut. The titular group will go up against Roman Sionis aka Black Mask, who is a famed Batman villain in the comics, though Deadline says the “crime lord has yet to be announced”.
Filming is expected to start January 15, 2019 in Los Angeles, and it is planned to be the first R-rated (A classification here in India) DC movie. Cathy Yan (Dead Pigs) is set as director – the first Asian woman to direct a US superhero movie – with a script from Christina Hodson (Bumblebee). Birds of Prey release date is February 7, 2020.
It is part of DC’s film universe, which continues with Aquaman in December this year, Shazam! in April 2019, Wonder Woman 1984 in November 2019, Cyborg in April 2020, and Green Lantern Corps in July 2020. There’s also the standalone Joker origin movie, out October 2019.