Things are in a state of constant flux for the world of DC on the Warner Bros’ lot. After the release of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, things have changed for the studio as they continue to try and find a dominant niche in the superhero marketplace. In the past two months, there have been rampant rumors of tensions between the director Zack Snyder and the studio during the Justice League shoot, the reactive announcement of a new Batman solo film, while more light-hearted projects have been rushed into development such as Booster Gold, to contrast Snyder’s darker tone. Well, Warner Bros apparently has even more irons in the fire as it was recently uncovered that another spin-off movie is in the works.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Warner Bros is in the early developmental stages of a movie centered on Harley Quinn and other notable female characters from the world of DC Comics. Here is how THR described the developing project:
“…the project is not a Quinn solo movie. Rather, it would focus on several of DC’s female heroes and villains. Details are being closely guarded but names such as Batgirl and Birds of Prey have surfaced, although in what capacity, it’s not clear. Warner Bros. isn’t commenting.
There is also a scribe penning the script but those details, too, are being kept secret, although it is known that the writer is female…Sources say that Robbie was the impetus for the project, adding that when she got the part for the movie, she dove deep into the comics to learn as much as possible about the character. In the process, she fell for DC’s female characters. She brought on the writer to help develop the project and brought it to Warners, which snapped it up.”
If reports are correct, Margot Robbie is championing the project and the appeal of the movie is clear. It would make sense for Warner Bros to remain quiet on the film until the release of Suicide Squad to officially comment, much like they waited for the release of Batman v Superman to announce Ben Affleck’s solo Batman movie. However, this latest bit of news brings up more questions than answers, as the project gains momentum towards an eventual greenlight. So we dig into the latest rumors and detail 4 Challenges for the Harley Quinn movie.
Heroes and Villains Not Yet Established
One of the largest parts of viewer enjoyment at the movies is the suspension of disbelief, particularly with superheroes films. One of the many reasons that there was such a harsh critique towards Batman v Superman was that audiences had trouble connecting with the characters and believing in this newly formed world. Thanks to Suicide Squad, Harley Quinn will certainly be established and in all likelihood Margot Robbie will be a certified star by the film’s release, but her supporting cast may not be so well known by that point.
It’s probable that this spin-off won’t come until after the solo Batman film, which lends some credence to the recent rumor that The Batman will cameo a large number of his rogue’s gallery. If so, characters who could form formidable (and marketable) alliances with Harley, such as Catwoman and Poison Ivy, may have already gotten their formal introductions to the DCEU by that time. There has also been other rumblings about Black Canary being included in the upcoming Justice League movie, so there might be more viable characters than we are envisioning to fill out Harley’s world.
For decades, there had been misguided logic by studio executives who feared producing action movies with female leads would fail to attract audiences. It became even more of an uphill battle when female led superhero movies were attempted, particularly with clueless films like Elektra and Catwoman in the distant past. Well clearly audiences have spoken and things have begun to slowly change in recent years. Movies such as Salt, Lucy, The Hunger Games, and countless other blockbusters (Aliens, Terminator: Judgement Day) have proven that audiences are just as hungry to see female action heroes and studios are gradually taking notice.
However, whenever you have social progress, there is always a period of backlash. As Paul Feig and the all-female cast of the Ghostbusters recently found out. The trailer for the upcoming reboot became one of the most disliked movie trailers in Youtube history. The producing team for the Harley Quinn movie will have to delicately balance having a female-led comic book movie, without alienating a large portion of their target audience. The easiest way to avoid the perception of the movie being a gimmick, or having a secret agenda, is to make a quality movie that is above petty reproach.
Are They Passionate About the Material?
There is no time requirement for being a “true” comic book fan, however it has been proven that those that have had a passionate lifelong ambition to bring properties to life, have enjoyed great success in recent years. Ryan Reynolds went a similar route by hiring the writers of Zombieland, Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, to pen Deadpool while petitioning for over a decade to get the film made. During that time a passionate director and visual effects master in Tim Miller joined the team and they all refined the project for years before getting a greenlight. Hopefully, there will be equally passionate visionaries on the Harley Quinn film, who understand the character and more importantly, how to translate what audiences would enjoy about them onto the big screen.
Harley Quinn debuted as an animated character, before moving onto the pages of the comics and now the big screen. In the character’s short existence, there is already a wealth of material to adapt in a variety of different ways. As of now the writer for the project is being kept under wraps, with the only clue being that she is female. Once the mystery writer is announced and a director is hired, it should be easier to gauge the tone and direction of the project. But recent history has indicated that the filmmaker has to be an impressive storyteller, with an intimate knowledge of what makes these icons significant, in order to find success.
Picking the Right Supporting Cast
We have reached a point in the superhero genre where audiences, in general, have grown to expect more than a solitary origin story. Cross-pollination of characters is what is pushing the genre into uncharted territories, so attention should be paid to whom Harley will be spending her time with. Aside from her history with the Joker, the character has had several other iconic friends, and lovers, that she has teamed up with including Catwoman, Batgirl, Poison Ivy, and Deadshot, among others.
It would make sense to include one of the more popular female comic book characters of all-time in Catwoman. Her presence would instantly make the movie feel like more of an event, than a run of the mill superhero tale. For decades, the role of Catwoman has been one of the more coveted roles in Hollywood, so it’s easy to imagine WB finding compelling A-list talent for the picture. It’s highly unlikely Catwoman will ever headline her own movie again, so her addition would be the first step in widening the appeal of the movie. There are a multitude of directions they could take, but whoever makes up the core of Harley’s crew will be crucial to the film’s eventual success.
Unfortunately these are only a few of the obstacles and challenges of the Harley Quinn movie. Next year fans will be getting the long-awaited adaptation of Wonder Woman and surely the reactionary executives in WB are watching closely as well. But first fans have to respond to Harley’s debut this August in Suicide Squad to truly seal the deal. However, these rumors indicate that she has made an impression with those who have already seen the movie. We will find out very soon!
Suicide Squad opens on August 5th, 2016.