Comics on Film: What is 'Gotham City Sirens'?

Comics on Film: What is 'Gotham City Sirens'?

Dec 16, 2016

While we've been hearing a number of rumors and speculation for the last several months regarding Margot Robbie taking a more prominent role at DC Films, and spearheading an effort to get a film made featuring some of DC Comics' most iconic femme fatales, it's only just now that we're beginning to see what that film may actually look like. As we recently covered, that movie will take on a title that more recent DC Comics fans may find familiar. Re-teaming with Suicide Squad director David Ayer, Robbie and he will help to create a movie tentatively known as Gotham City Sirens.

For a number of years, the female DC Comics villains that occupy Batman's corner of the shared universe have been among the most popular that the publisher has access to. Harley Quinn's popularity has exploded in recent years, but she's always been a mainstay for the DC faithful ever since she first appeared in Batman: The Animated Series in the early 1990's, on up through the first time she was incorporated into the comics in 1998. In some more noteworthy episodes of B:TAS, Harley was teamed up with Poison Ivy -- a longstanding Batman villain -- for an almost Thelma & Louise-like crime partnership that had a significant amount of creative energy behind it.

And, of course, any conversation about female Batman villains, more often than not, has to begin with Catwoman, a character who made her first appearance alongside the Joker in Spring 1940's Batman #1. These are the three core characters that make up Gotham City Sirens in the comics.


The Comic Book Series

Debuting in the summer of 2009, Gotham City Sirens was one of several new Batman titles introduced that season under the label of an event called "Batman Reborn," which made it an opportune moment for a series featuring these three characters to be released. That's because earlier that year in a company-wide crossover event called Final Crisis, Batman himself appeared to have died at the hands of the alien despot Darkseid. After a "Battle for the Cowl" was raged among some of the Dark Knight's allies, Dick Grayson (the original Robin and former Nightwing) emerged as the new Batman, while Bruce Wayne's biological son Damian would join Grayson as the new Robin.

This wasn't the only shakeup that would be coming to DC's Batman line, however, as Kate Kane/Batwoman would be taking over as the primary character in DC's flagship title Detective Comics, while former Robin Tim Drake -- unconvinced about evidence surrounding his adoptive father Bruce Wayne's apparent "death" -- would search the globe for anything pointing to the true fate of the real Batman.

In the midst of all the chaos hitting Gotham City in the wake of Bruce Wayne's absence comes a different flavor of chaos in the form of Gotham City Sirens, a title first written by Harley Quinn creator Paul Dini that would team together Harley, Poison Ivy, and Catwoman.

After literally getting her heart ripped out by Batman villain Hush (See Batman: Heart of Hush)  and getting some intense repair work from DCU doctors and magicians, Catwoman has been severely weakened. When she almost gets killed by a newbie villain out to make a name for himself in Gotham, she's saved by Poison Ivy, who's living with Harley Quinn and staying one step ahead of the law. With Batman out of the picture and Gotham in a wider state of chaos, Catwoman proposes that the three team up both so that she can feel more protected in her weakened state, and so that Harley & Ivy can gain some much-needed perspective.

Paul Dini wrote a total of nine issues on the series before handing it off to a new creative team, but given Dini's penchant for writing excellent Batman stories in multiple mediums (many of B:TAS' most critically-acclaimed episodes, excellent comic book runs in Detective Comics and Streets of Gotham, and the first two video games in the Batman: Arkham series), the characters in his capable hands always felt true to who they were at their respective cores. That's what made the Gotham City Sirens concept so strong for an ongoing comic book series: the three people at the center of it were great on their own, but spectacular when a writer who knew them well put them all together.

How the Sirens Could Fit into DC's Film Universe

Although we're starting to get a bigger picture of what DC's major players look like due to the releases of Man of SteelBatman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and Suicide Squad, two of the three characters from the comic book series have yet to make any appearance in the films thus far. From Suicide Squad, we know that Harley Quinn has been associated with the Joker for a number of years, was an accomplice in his murder of Batman's partner Robin (though we don't know which Robin, at least not yet), and ascended to a level akin to Gotham underworld royalty due to her position as the Joker's "main squeeze," as he might say.

When it comes to the other two characters in the triumvirate from the comics series, we know virtually nothing about them. In Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice when confronting Diana Prince about stealing information from Lex Luthor, he tells her, "You don't know me...but I've known a few women like you." This may be reaching, but you could read into that statement as a partial allusion to Selina Kyle/Catwoman, one of the only people who've managed to become one of Batman's true equals, though obviously in something of an opposite direction.

Since we know from Dawn of Justice that Batman's operated in Gotham for the better part of 20 years, its easily conceivable that he's crossed paths with Catwoman on more than one occasion. How or why she would show up to be a part of Gotham City Sirens is anyone's guess, but she would absolutely be a welcome inclusion: in addition to being unpredictable, Catwoman is also a sheer, unadulterated bad ass. In a David Ayer movie, you likely can't have too many of those.

Much of the same speculation can also be tied to Dr. Pamela Isley, aka Poison Ivy. The last time we saw Ivy in a major live-action movie was in 1997's Batman & Robin, where she was played to notable effect by Uma Thurman. While that movie is rightfully derided as an aberration in the Batman film series, Thurman's Ivy was likely the character most at home in that type of film. Be that as it may, the Poison Ivy of the comics, of most animated outings, as well as in exploitations like the Arkham games is a decidedly eccentric but also extremely intelligent and threatening force of nature in Gotham City.

Ivy's command of plant life seems like something of a strange power in concept, but the ways that creative teams have decided to exploit it in some great stories over the years truly helps to make Ivy an intimidating and formidable presence in Gotham City. It's hard to fight an enemy when she can literally grow a vine to strike out from the ground and strangle you to death, and that's just a minor example of her power.


Who Will Become Ivy & Catwoman (if they're in it)?

In addition to featuring a cinematic team-up of some very dominant pop culture icons from the world of comics, Gotham City Sirens as a film would likely also give more substantive context to Batman's corner of the DC Extended Universe, especially if it follows on the heels of Ben Affleck's solo Batman film that's believed to be released in 2018. Beyond that, it'll be very interesting to see which actress will continue the legacies of Julie Newmar, Lee Meriwether, Eartha Kitt, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Anne Hathaway in the role of Catwoman, and who will be chosen to be the cinematic successor to Uma Thurman as the new Ivy. Some unconfirmed rumors place Megan Fox as a potential Ivy, but it's likely far too early to tell.

This is also based on the assumption that the film will use the same lineup of characters as the comics, which is by no means a sure thing, especially considering that Talia al Ghul, the "Daughter of the Demon," also had a notable role later in the series.. While it would seem like a no-brainer for these three characters in particular to come together, we'll likely have to wait a little longer to see who the cinematic Gotham City Sirens will actually become, on up through its release.

For more information on DC Comics-based movies as it happens, keep an eye on every day and on Comics on Film every Friday! See you next week.

Chris Clow is a gamer, a comic book expert and former retailer, as well as a freelance contributor to The Huffington Post and, as well as host of the Comics on Consoles podcast. You can find his weekly piece Comics on Film right here at Check out his blog, and follow along on Twitter @ChrisClow.

Categories: Comics, Features, Geek
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