Warners might not have a Superman any more, but that’s not stopping them from going full-tilt on their other properties, namely Birds of Prey.
The Cathy Yan directed film was given a release date by Warners–February 7, 2020 and today Variety says sources tell them that Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Jurnee Smollett-Bell will be joining Margot Robbie in the female lead comic book caper. Winstead will be playing the Huntress and Smollett-Bell will be playing Black Canary.
Both characters have undergone major changes in their history. Black Canary dates back to 1947 where she first appeared in Flash Comics #86. She was originally portrayed as a flower shop owner Dinah Drake who infiltrated criminal organizations in the guise of Black Canary. She would eventually join the Justice Society of America. Her daughter, Dinah Laurel Lance, would eventually take up the identity from her mother. Gifted with the superpower of a highly destructive scream, she would eventually join the Justice League of America.
Recently, Black Canary’s origin was changed to her becoming an orphan who was taken under the wing of a highly-skilled martial artist. Her mentor taught her the martial arts, and she became so proficient that she was tapped to join the special government special f0rce Team 7. When she left the team, she dedicated her life to fighting crime, while also trying to make it as a rock and roll star.
Smollet-Bell has been acting since she was five, with roles in TV shows like Family Matters and Hanging With Mr. Cooper. As an adult, she is most known for her roles on True Blood and Underground. She has been cast in Lovecraft Country, which is set to debut on HBO in 2019. On film, her notable roles were in Eve’s Bayou and Hands of Stone.
And yes, she is a woman of color playing a traditionally white character. Get over it. If there was a little more equality back in 1947, there might have been a more diverse Black Canary.
The Huntress was created in 1977’s All-Star Comics #69 as Helena Wayne, the daughter of an alternate earth Bruce Wayne (Batman) and Selina Kyle (Catwoman). She followed in her father’s footsteps and fought crime. She was updated in 1989 to become Helena Bertinelli, the scion of a mob family who sees her parents assassinated in front of her eyes. This compels her to seek vengeance against all organized crime as the Huntress.
Mary Elizabeth Winstead has had a wide and varied career. She is no stranger to superheroes or comic book adaptations, starring in the 2005 superhero comedy Sky High and as Ramona Flowers in 2010’s Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. She has become a modern-day scream queen with roles in films such as the 2001-2002 TV series Wolf Lake, Monster Island (2004), Final Destination 3 (2006), Black Christmas (2006), Death Proof (2007), The Thing (2011), Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (2012) and 10 Cloverfield Lane (2016). She has also appeared as John McClane’s daughter, Lucy Gennero-McClane, in Live Free or Die Hard (2007) and A Good Day to Die Hard (2013), and in independent films such as Smashed (2012) and The Spectacular Now (2013). Her notable TV work includes Tru Calling, The Returned, BrainDead and Fargo.
The casting might be not be done yet. Jeff Sneider has several intriguing names circling the part of the film’s villain, the crime lord Black Mask:
BIRDS OF PREY: Per @KrollJVar, WB looking at names like Ewan McGregor and Sharlto Copley to play the crime boss our heroines go up against. Both would be interesting, but I'd love to see a villainous McGregor… just not sure if he could do that film AND Doctor Sleep, also at WB.
— Jeff Sneider (@TheInSneider) September 26, 2018
More on this as the situation develops.