BlueJay and I have recently started watching Arrow again, after very much enjoying the first few episodes that friends provided us some time ago. As we return to season one, season two is nearing release, with promises for another show set in the same universe and focusing on the Flash produced by some of the same people. Here we may have the beginnings of an interconnected DC comics universe, in the form of television series instead of blockbuster movies as the ‘Marvel Cinematic Universe’ (as it’s often called) has achieved. This would be a great thing for DC to get in on – much better than a Batman/Superman film, in my opinion – and television’s spin-off/cameo tradition seems like a pretty reasonable way to achieve the comics universe feel. Perhaps going forward we’ll see Marvel stronger in films, but DC stronger on television? I’m certainly amenable to this, especially with the excellent Young Justice whetting my appetite for DC material again.
The Mary-Sue has collected many comments on the lack of a Wonder Woman film or other project among the rush of superheroes (seriously, guys, what’s with that?) and notes that the CW network had a show based around her, called Amazon, in the works before Flash was green-lighted instead. If the CW makes a habit of producing interlinked, single-word-titled DC comics adaptations, I’ll be more than happy to endorse it! But with a distinct lack of female heroes starring in recent comic-based material, I got to thinking about what else might make a good tv show to coexist with Arrow. Here, I want to pitch my vision for a Birds of Prey television series.
To be honest, the idea didn’t really start from the desire for more superheroine-focused media, although that came up pretty quickly. It started with a discussion of Nightwing, of whom my partner and I are both very fond and whose appearance in season two of Young Justice got us talking about how much we’d like to see a Nightwing movie. The subject has come up before, in the wake of The Dark Knight Rises, but the problem is that Nightwing is the independent persona of a grown-up Robin. So much of his character and story relies on that history of training and occasionally clashing with Batman as a father figure that it’s difficult to introduce him on his own – and as The Dark Knight Rises does not allow for a Robin to co-exist with Bruce Wayne’s Batman, Nightwing can’t really happen in that storyline. My suggestion was that Nightwing might work in an Arrow-like series, not as the central character but as a vigilante hero who crosses our path or is consulted on occasion – and who may frequently refer to his mentor, from whom he separated himself some time ago, without ever providing said mentor’s name. Comic fans will know, and probably enjoy oblique references to Batman and his own stories, but other viewers will not need to recognise these.
Who, then, would make a good central character – or characters – around whom to base such a show? Who could work in the same town as Nightwing and interact with him, but not all the time? BlueJay and I agreed, the ‘Birds of Prey‘ comic series could provide perfect material – and add some bonus diversity to the DC television universe that Arrow may be in the process of spawning.
I’m still new to comics (and have read only a smattering of this series), and so I won’t claim the authority to give a good overview, but ‘Birds of Prey’ is a series that has featured a number of superheroines of various stripes teaming up, and is distinguished by a predominantly (if not exclusively) female cast of heroes. Gail Simone, who I keep hearing praise for, wrote a bunch of it. A lot of the lady heroes are of the less meta-human variety who would make the transition to Arrow‘s dark realism nicely. You’ve got Black Canary and Huntress, who have been or will be introduced in Arrow anyway – and Oracle. With those three as a core you’ve got the beginnings of a very feasible show.
Oracle is one of the superhero identities of Barbara Gordon, daughter of Gotham’s Commissioner Gordan and one-time Batgirl. While working as Batgirl, Barbara is paralysed from the waist down, making her unable to continue in that role. Not one to give up the good fight, however, she takes up the role of Oracle from her wheelchair, becoming a brainy information broker, co-ordinator and advisor to the superheroes. Think about that for a second: a female ex-Batgirl fighting crime from a wheelchair. Any network looking to boost diversity in their cast (and thus win approval points) should not overlook Oracle. Plus – since we are talking about tv drama here – Barbara Gordon and Dick Grayson (aka Nightwing) have a romantic history as fraught as you’d expect from comics, and having Nightwing as a recurring minor character opens the way for epic romantic tension. Especially if Oracle’s female team-mates happen to notice the incredibly strong and fit acrobat/fighter for themselves. All we really have to do is come to terms with having a main male character called ‘Dick’, and the way is open for fanservice and drama galore. Seriously!
So a ‘Birds of Prey’ show would offer the following advantages:
* Easily tied in with Arrow‘s universe, but set in a different city (as Flash will be)
* A female-led cast, of female heroes in their own right (something no one else is doing)
* A heroic female character with a disability
* Romantic tension and will they/won’t they material (Barbara and Dick)
* Potential for other plots based in sexual tension and/or hook-ups (the others)
* Intra-team moral conflicts (Helena/Huntress!)
This seems totally doable to me. More easily than Wonder Woman, perhaps, because it links in so nicely with groundwork that Arrow has already set up, and could maintain a similar tone without stretching realism. Comics characters who have cameoed in Arrow could re-cameo here, or otherwise interlink. All I can say is, fund it!