Birds of Prey Theory: Barbara Gordon Is Already Oracle
Barbara Gordon’s Batgirl was curiously absent from the proposed cast of new characters for the upcoming Birds of Prey movie. Could it be because she’s already the hacker hero Oracle in the DCEU? Several signs suggest this might be the case.
The daughter of Gotham City Police Commissioner Jim Gordon, Barbara Gordon, has one of the most complex histories of any character in modern comics. Originally created for the live-action Batman television series in 1966, Barbara proved popular enough to be brought into the comic books one year later in Detective Comics #359. Her life would change forever following an attack by The Joker in the graphic novel The Killing Joke, which left her paralyzed. Barbara would later reemerge in Kim Yale and John Ostrander’s Suicide Squad comic, having adopted the Oracle identity to aid the team as a white-hat hacker. She would go on to be a member of the Justice League but never had a comic of her own until Birds of Prey.
Conceived by editor Jordan B. Gorfinkel in 1996 as a series of specials, Birds of Prey centered upon the adventures of Oracle and her partner, superheroine/spy Dinah Lance (a.k.a. Black Canary). It became a full monthly comic in 1999, but was on the verge of cancellation before writer Gail Simone revitalized the series in 2003. Simone added the Mafia-focused vigilante Helena Bertinelli (a.k.a. Huntress) to the cast and went on to reshape the team with a rotating roster of DC Comics’ heroines.
Given the central role that Barbara Gordon held in forming the Birds of Prey in two realities (the most recent incarnation of the group was formed in the DC Rebirth series Batgirl And The Birds of Prey, where Barbara regained her mobility and became Batgirl again), many fans were stunned when a supposed list of heroes who would be in the movie was reported and Barbara Gordon’s name was conspicuously absent. This caused confusion, particularly when coupled with the on-going questions regarding the status of a Batgirl solo film centering on Barbara Gordon following Joss Whedon’s departure from the project. What was more worrying was the inclusion of an unexpected name on the list of characters to be seen in Birds of Prey – Cassandra Cain.
CASSANDRA CAIN IS THE DCEU’S BATGIRL, NOT BARBARA GORDON
First introduced during the Batman storyline No Man’s Land in 1999, Cassandra Cain was Barbara Gordon’s hand-picked successor to take up her mantle. The daughter of the assassins David Cain and Lady Shiva, Cassandra was raised by her father and trained from birth to become the perfect assassin. Cain did not speak to his daughter, nor teach her how to read or write, theorizing that with the only language she learned being body language, she would grow into a superior warrior. His theory proved correct, but he did not count on Cassandra’s distressed reaction to her first “hit” at the age of eight nor her running away from home and living on the streets, where she was taken in by Barbara Gordon and offered a better life.
Cassandra Cain’s presence in the Birds of Prey movie poses several interesting questions. On the one hand, it seems unlikely that Cassandra would be included if there was any intention of having Barbara Gordon be Batgirl. On the other hand, given their history together in the comics where Barbara acted as a foster mother of sorts to Cassandra, the fact that Cassandra is part of the Birds of Prey suggests that Barbara will be a presence in the film even if she’s already passed on her mantle.
Given the relative ages of the characters in the DCEU compared to their comic-book counterparts, with a clearly older Bruce Wayne who has been at the vigilante act for decades, there’s a fair chance that a Batgirl movie starring Barbara Gordon could still be a possibility. It could be handled as a retro-piece, in much the same manner as the upcoming Wonder Woman 1984. The current DC Comics timeline had Barbara Gordon taking up the Batgirl name shortly after Batman made his first appearance in Gotham City. As such, there’s a fair possibility the solo Batgirl film could be an origin story for Barbara while allowing for an older Barbara Gordon to appear in a Birds of Prey movie set in the modern day DCEU, acting as a mentor to Cassandra Cain.