Birds of Prey is now in theaters, and fans of the comic book heroes are definitely excited. The film marks the first time most of these characters will appear on the big screen, as Harley Quinn is the only one of the titular team to have appeared in a major studio film up to now.
Of course, that doesn't mean the only way to get your fix for more is to dive into hundreds of pages of comics (though if you're looking for some suggestions, allow me to direct you to my pre-Birds of Prey pull list). Black Canary, Huntress, and Renee Montoya have all made appearances throughout the deep bench of DC's television universe, both live-action and animated.
While it's true that Montoya's contributions are limited and Cassandra Cain has never been adapted in any media beyond comics and video games, there are tons of chances to get to know Dinah, Helena, and, yes, Harley, in new (old?) and interesting ways. To help you navigate the many series and episodes ahead, we've prepared this handy Binge Guide. Enjoy!
BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES (1992-1995)
The quintessential Batman series, available to watch from the beginning on DC Universe. If you have the time, it is completely worth watching all the way through. If you don't, then you only need two episodes to satisfy your BoP needs.
"Joker's Favor" (Season 1, Episode 22)
It's the birth of Harley Quinn! Harley is one of the not-insignificant number of characters whose first appearance was actually in DC's animated universe. This is not a Harley-specific episode, but it does give you a glimpse at the starting point for this now fan-favorite character in a kid-friendly package.
"Harley & Ivy" (Season 2, Episode 28)
Now, this is a great Harley-centric episode, and perhaps most relevant to the new film. Joker has broken up with Harley! Unwilling to sit around and cry about it, Harley decides instead to team up with Poison Ivy to become the Queens of Crime in Gotham and annoy the crap out of the Joker. It's not specifically gay but it is also so very gay. Speaking of gay, it's also one of the, unfortunately, few instances in which Renee Montoya appears.
THE NEW BATMAN ADVENTURES (1998-1999)
A short-lived series, The New Batman Adventures continued the stories from Batman: The Animated Series but put a bit more of a Bat-Family spin on things, as Batgirl, Nightwing, and Robin featured prominently throughout the 24 episodes, though inconsistently. Oddly, none of them appear in the episode I'm singling out. This is also the last time Harley will feature on her own in this list. You can watch the entire series on DC Universe.
"Mad Love" (Episode 24)
The finale of the series, this episode is actually based on the beloved and award-winning comic of the same name from series creators (and lords of the DC Animated Universe) Paul Dini and Bruce Timm. It tells the story of Harley Quinn and her first meeting with Joker, her jealousy over his obsession with Batman, and her plot to remove what she sees as the one roadblock to their love.
BIRDS OF PREY (2002)
This show is weird. It is by no means "good," but if you grew up in the early '00s and came of age watching some of the early offerings on what was then The WB, I guarantee you will at least enjoy it for how solidly of its time it is. It isn't remotely comics-accurate, but it does have three things going for it that are undeniable:
1. It is the only entry on this list that features Oracle (in fact, outside of video games, it is the only DC Comics screen adaptation that includes her at all).
2. It has the visual language of an Evanescence music video.
3. Shemar Moore is in it.
Birds of Prey only aired for a single 13-episode season, and the entire thing is available on DC Universe, so it's very easy to watch the whole thing, but if you only want to catch the highlights, here you go:
"Pilot" (Episode 1)
Welcome to the Clocktower! It's in Gotham. Batman is gone! Catwoman is dead! They have a daughter named Helena who fights crime as the hero Huntress, and she works in the Clocktower with former Batgirl/current hacker and information broker Barbara Gordon, aka Oracle. When a teenager named Dinah comes to town, Babs and Helena take her under their proverbial wings to teach her the ways of heroing and high school. Also, Helena flirts with a hot cop and there's an evil psychiatrist (Dr. Harleen Quinzel) out there in the city.
"Sins of the Mother" (Episode 5)
If you've watched the first episode and are confused by the fact that Dinah has precognitive abilities rather than the Canary Cry, we've got answers! Turns out Dinah is a second-generation metahuman and her estranged mother (played by pre-college-scandal Lori Loughlin) used to work with Babs and Helena back in the day. She and, yes, her Canary Cry are back in Gotham to kick some ass and protect her daughter, and you bet there are a lot of drama and tears along the way.
"Lady Shiva" (Episode 8)
Lady Shiva is one of the best side characters/villains/sometimes heroes of the Birds of Prey comics, and her tenuous friendship with Dinah and begrudging camaraderie with Barbara are a lot of the reason why. In the show, things are a little bit different. In her civilian identity, Sandra is Helena's high school BFF. But as the villainous Lady Shiva, she's Batgirl's nemesis. NOTE: This episode is the first of a few in the series which features Barbara utilizing a neural implant to regain the use of her legs (with dangerous consequences). It's not overtly ableist — the whole thing is a part of her trauma from the injury that took her out of the suit, and she does go back to using her wheelchair after — but it's not not ableist, either.
"Devil's Eyes" (Episode 13)
Helena has been hypnotized by Harley Quinn into attacking her friends, and Barbara uses the device again in this episode in order to take on Helena in hand-to-hand combat. Then the team must wrest control of the Clocktower back from Harley before they control the entire city.
JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED (2004-2006)
Justice League Unlimited is a direct sequel to the earlier Justice League series that ran from 2001 to 2003, and you can watch the whole series on DC Universe. If you're a fan of the entire DC Universe's cast of characters and want a show that has something for everyone, it's a great option. For our purposes, though, we only need one episode.
"Double Date" (Season 2, Episode 6)
"Double Date" is one of the most widely beloved episodes of this generally excellent show. You can't really blame folks for loving it, either, as it was penned by none other than Gail Simone, in this instance getting the chance to write some of the Birds of Prey in a new medium. The episode features Black Canary, Green Arrow, Huntress, and the Question in a story that would be perfect for a feature-length film. After Huntress is kicked out of the League for trying to kill the man who killed her parents, she goes rogue and takes the Question along for the ride. Canary and Green Arrow attempt to stop them, and hijinks ensue.
BATMAN: THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD (2009-2011)
It's not as classic as Batman: The Animated Series, but The Brave and the Bold is so much fun, and you can watch it now on DC Universe. Rather than following the traditionally lone hero as he stalks the streets of Gotham, this series teamed him up with a variety of heroes throughout the DC Universe in every single episode. It's very colorful, and it is not afraid to get downright bizarre, as the following episodes prove.
"Night of the Huntress" (Season 1, Episode 14)
The episode features both Huntress and Black Canary, though the two don't really work together so much as they each help Batman. But it does include Blue Beetle, who is always a delight, AND the villains are named Babyface and Mrs. Manface, which is just *chef's kiss*. God, I love wacky comic book stuff.
"Mayhem of the Music Meister" (Season 1, Episode 25)
Technically, this episode features only a single character from the Birds of Prey, Black Canary, but I included it for a few reasons. First, it's one of the best episodes of the entire series, as a villain played by Neil Patrick Harris comes to town and his presence forces all the heroes to sing their feelings whether they want to or not. Second, Black Canary gets a solo in the middle where she sings about her love for Batman (she gets over it) while kicking bad guys in the face.
"The Mask of Matches Malone" (Season 2, Episode 17)
Not only does this episode feature an epic team-up of several members of the comic book Birds of Prey, including Black Canary, Huntress, and Catwoman, it features them teaming up to save Batman from himself. You see, the Bat has suffered a kind of amnesia that makes him think he's a gangster named Matches Malone. In order to snap him out of it, Canary, Huntress, and Catwoman infiltrate the Ace of Clubs and perform a song all about how much better equipped they are than the guys (see above video). Children's TV should feature more innuendo, if you ask me. Then again, sometimes parents get mad and DC removes the episode from the DVD set.
Oh, Arrow. Gone, but never forgotten (for good reasons as well as bad). The series lasted for eight years on The CW and launched a massive franchise on the network. It had its ups and downs, but despite the downs, it did give us at least a few versions of the Black Canary throughout its run. While some version of the character has existed since the start of the series (as Laurel Lance, Sara Lance, Dinah Drake, and Earth-2's Laurel), since the other members of the team appeared rarely, we're gonna break it down to just the best examples. All but the latest season is available on Netflix.
"Birds of Prey" (Season 2, Episode 17)
Sara Lance, still hiding her superhero identity from her sister, is put in a difficult position when Laurel and a bunch of innocent people are taken hostage by Helena Bertinelli, The Huntress. Unwilling to leave her sister in danger, Sara breaks into the locked-down courthouse and takes on Huntress on her own, all while trying to keep her secret. Don't be fooled by the title, this is in no way a team-up between two of the most iconic members of the super team, but it's still thrilling to see these characters on screen together for the first time in costume and live action.
"Lost Canary" (Season 7, Episode 18)
Three Canaries, no waiting! If you skip right to this one, here are some quick notes to catch you up. Laurel died. Dinah Drake is now the Black Canary on Oliver's team. The Laurel from Earth-2, who was very very evil and went by Black Siren, crossed over onto Earth-1. She's kinda good now, only when she is framed for murder she decides to go back to her evil ways. Felicity recruits Sara (now the White Canary and traveling through time on DC's Legends of Tomorrow) to find her and bring her back into the fold. If you haven't seen any other part of the series, it might be too confusing to fully enjoy properly. But if you've ever wanted to see three completely different takes on an iconic character all sharing the screen and some big complicated emotions, this is definitely the episode for you.
"Arrow: Green Arrow & the Canaries" (Season 8, Episode 9)
The penultimate episode of the series and a backdoor pilot for what the Arrowverse is hoping will be its latest entry into the canon, this future-set episode also might be the closest we get to a Birds of Prey-style team up on TV for some time. There's no Oracle and no Huntress, but it does feature a team-up of three badass female heroes, including two Canaries and Mia Smoak/Queen as the Green Arrow, fighting their way through a 2040 Star City. And who knows … it could be the future of the franchise.