Friday, August 3, 2012

Building A Better "Birds of Prey"

On my alternate-history discussion forum, the gentleman whose handle is TheReturner posted a thread asking how one could make the television series Birds of Prey successful.  The show is basically about Batman and Catwoman's illegitimate daughter Huntress and the Oracle (the former Batgirl, crippled by the Joker) fighting crime, with the chief villain being none other than evil psychiatrist Harley Quinn, lover of the Joker.

Sufficient to say, it wasn't successful.  Here're some ideas that the board member whose handle is Antonio and I came up with to make it better:

*Don't call the city "New Gotham."  I don't see why they made that change.  There's no point.  Antonio suggested making this a generic near-future setting, perhaps by stylizing some of the items.  Heck, given how Batman could have been active for decades and might've had his affair with Catwoman years ago, they could even set it in the present day.

(I doubt the Joker could have gotten away with constantly being declared legally insane and then breaking out of Arkham Asylum every few months in the "tough on crime" 1990s, so setting Batman's heyday in the 1960s and 1970s makes sense on those grounds.  Also, the board member whose handle is Black Angel suggested it could be a direct sequel to the Adam West Batman series and when we actually meet Bruce Wayne, he could be played by West.)

*There was an animated series called Batman Beyond that ran from 1999 to 2001, just before Birds of Prey, that featured an elderly Bruce Wayne mentoring a new Batman many years later.  Something that was in a similar vein--basically "Batman: The Next Generation" with female protagonists--would have probably been better-received than Birds of Prey was.

*Dump the "metahumans" aspect of the story entirely.  It came off to me like they were cribbing from the X-Men or even Dark Angel, which was on at the same time.  And Catwoman in the comics was an ordinary human, not a mutant.

*The show depicts Batman as having left Gotham in his grief for Catwoman's death.  I remember at least some fans complained about that, claiming it made Batman a coward.  If I were writing it, I would depict Batman going insane with rage at the Joker's killing of Catwoman and killing the Joker himself, then having a Heroic Blue Screen of Death and going into self-imposed exile for violating his one rule.  Antonio said that if the crippling of Barbara Gordon and the death of Jason Todd (the second Robin) took place at the same time, it would be enough to push Batman to outright homicide.  That's actually a really good idea--the TV show included a flashback to Joker shooting Barbara and the Joker actually killed Jason Todd in the comics.

As I said on the forum, this gets Batman out of the way in a manner true to his character and eliminates the Joker, allowing for Harley Quinn to come into her own as a major villain rather than simply being the Joker's girlfriend/minion.  Making the Joker's sidekick into a full-blown Big Bad in her own right (I guess that would make her a Dragon Ascendant) was one of the more creative ideas of the show.

Also, it could lead to a really interesting flashback episode (or even series of episodes) if Huntress sought her father out for answers.  Batman would say something to the effect of, "Helena, let me explain..." and we see a full-blown Batman arc in the midst of the Oracle/Huntress show.  Even if the show still fails, those episodes would likely be beloved by Batman fans.

*Batman doesn't seem to be the type to get a woman pregnant without marrying her, nor abandon a child.  The TV series dealt with this by making it so Batman wasn't aware of his daughter, at least initially.  Another idea might be to have Batman and Catwoman marry and retire from their respective lifestyles.  Then the Joker breaks out of Arkham one last time and rampages, killing Jason Todd (who might try to continue being Robin on his own), crippling Barbara Gordon, and then killing Catwoman and (apparently) Helena.  Batman puts on his costume one last time and literally tears the Joker apart, then leaves.  Alfred discovers Helena is still alive, but cannot find Batman and so, like he did with Bruce, raises Helena himself.

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