Birds of Prey is a movie set in the DC Extended Universe that is expected to be released in 2020. It is a spinoff of Suicide Squad, as shown by the fact that it will starring Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn. Besides Robbie, other cast members of note include Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and Rosie Perez, who will be playing Black Canary, Huntress, and Renee Montoya. However, for a lot of people, the most notable casting choice will be Ewan McGregor, who will be playing a crime lord called the Black Mask.
Who Is Black Mask in Birds of Prey?
It has been revealed that Batman has vanished following the events of Suicide Squad. Gotham City being Gotham City, this has resulted in a wave of crime. As such, Birds of Prey is centered on its main characters coming together to protect a young girl named Cassandra Cain, who has become a target for Black Mask by coming upon a diamond that belongs to him.
Generally speaking, Black Mask is one of the most memorable Batman supervillains to have been introduced in the 1980s, though his presence outside of the comic books remains thin at this point in time. He can be recognized by his namesake mask as well as his penchant for torture. Moreover, Black Mask is a curious example of the characters who straddle the line between the supervillains and the more conventional criminals who populate Gotham City by being a supervillain who runs a crime organization.
Background-wise, Black Mask is like a lot of Batman supervillains in that he serves as a kind of reflection for the titular character. In short, Roman Sionis was another child born to Gotham City’s elite. However, his upbringing was a stark contrast to Bruce Wayne’s upbringing because his parents cared more about their reputations than his wellbeing, which instilled a loathing in him for the “masks” that his parents wore when out in public. In time, Roman winded up in a relationship with a working-class woman but was forced to break it off by his parents, thus prompting him to kill them by burning down their mansion.
Roman inherited his father’s corporation but proved to lack his father’s business skill. As a result, the business floundered, so much so that he proceeded to push out a make-up that wasn’t properly tested, thus causing serious injuries to hundreds of women who made use of it. Due to this incident, Roman’s girlfriend left him while his corporation was bailed out by Bruce on the condition that Bruce be permitted to appoint a new Board of Directors to oversee the business. The fallout prompted Roman to break into his family’s crypt, make a skull-like mask using a piece of his father’s ebony casket, and then started up a criminal organization.
Since that time, Black Mask has clashed with a number of DC characters. The most famous of these incidents was when he went up against Bruce and the second Robin, who managed to capture him in the Sionis mansion. However, he is also known for a couple of brutal encounters with Stephanie Brown, which was thought to have resulted in her death until that was retconned, and Selina Kyle, which resulted in Black Mask’s death until he made a return as one of the Black Lanterns in Blackest Night. Besides the comic books, Black Mask has also shown up in various animated works as well as the Batman: Arkham games. Furthermore, it can be argued that he was in Gotham as well, though that particular version of the character was Richard Sionis rather than Roman Sionis, who has since been introduced as Roman’s father in the comic books.
Regardless, it remains to be seen what role Ewan McGregor’s Black Mask will play in Birds of Prey. In some Batman stories, Black Mask is a powerful figure who winds up controlling all or almost all of the criminal underworld in Gotham City. As a result, it is possible that the character will play a similar role in the DC Extended Universe because of Batman’s disappearance. Whatever the case, more information is bound to come out as 2020 approaches, meaning that we are bound to learn more in the future.