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Will Poison Ivy Ever Get Her Live-Action Justice in the DCEU?

The DCEU has seen success as recently as 2022 with Matt Reeves’ The Batman, considered one of the greatest DC projects to date, with many fans and critics comparing it to the ultimate DC film – The Dark Knight. The DC Comics extended world seems to have hit a rough patch with Black Adam and The Flash bombing. Add in the complete scrapping of The Batwoman movie, and one might think that the live-action DC cinematic universe may not have much room to grow.

However, DC still has plenty of characters they can help bring to the screen, and considering the one property that always seems to deliver and attract fans consistently is Batman, there is one particular DC anti-heroine to ‘The Bat’ that deserves her red rose on the big screen; Poison Ivy. There have been some spectacular performances by DC villains in the past decade (Bane, The Riddler, Harley Quinn, multiple Jokers). Yet, Poison Ivy’s character has gone entirely untouched in the modern DCEU… and that needs to change.

Update December 11, 2023: This article has been updated with more information regarding the future of the DCU and future projects Poison Ivy could be part of.

Live-Action History

Despite never having stepped foot in the DCEU, the plant-controlling antiheroine has had a long history of live-action performances (mostly on television over the past few years). The first appearance comes via the infamous performance of Uma Thurman portraying the character in the 1997 movie Batman & Robin. In the film, she’s portrayed as a villain and teams up with Mr. Freeze and Bane to carry out a plan that will freeze the entire world and allow her to grow her plants without fearing humanity destroying them.

Related: The Best DC Comic Adaptations, Ranked

The next live-action performance came from the series Gotham. The character was played by three different actresses (Clare Foley, Maggie Geha, and Peyton List). Poison Ivy was also portrayed as a villain, as she regularly aligned herself with the show’s other villains. Two more live-action appearances came in the show Batwoman when two versions of the character (portrayed by Nicole Kang and Bridget Regan) teamed up to wreak havoc on Gotham.

There were plans to bring Poison Ivy into the DCEU. It was announced that Warner Bros. was working on Gotham City Sirens, which would team up Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn with Poison Ivy and Catwoman. The film never made it past development, and DC pivoted instead to another female-centric Harley Quinn-led project, Birds of Prey. Yet Poison Ivy was such a popular character that discussions of including her in the DCEU at some points remained consistent throughout its entire development, including rumored roles in Ben Affleck’s directed Batman movie and another Suicide Squad film. Alas, that never happened, and the DCEU is set to conclude with the release of Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, ushering in James Gunn and Peter Safran’s new DCU.

Poison Ivy’s Success in Harley Quinn and Other Animated Series

While Poison Ivy’s live-action television character may have gotten a slight uptick in recognition over the past few years, the one television show that truly embodies how necessary it is for Poison Ivy to get live-action justice in the DCEU is the Harley Quinn animated series currently streaming on Max.

Let’s be clear: Poison Ivy has been portrayed dozens of times in animated projects for DC, and all of them have had their unique spin on the character, but this particular animated series does Poison Ivy justice. The series stars the titular Harley Quinn as she leaves the Joker and tries to make a name for herself among Gotham’s elite villains – and who’s alongside her the entire way?

Related: Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy’s Relationship, Explained

Poison Ivy (voiced by Lake Bell), the plant-powered anti-heroine, plays more of a hero in this series. She does everything she can to help her best friend, Harley, get the recognition (and happiness) she deserves. Since the show has been such a massive success for HBO, fans have made it clear how much they love Ivy and Harley’s relationship. DC delivered, and after two seasons of ‘Will they or won’t they?’ season three and four saw the pair in a committed relationship.

Beyond fan favorite Harley Quinn, Poison Ivy has been a staple of DC’s animated line-up, with notable appearances in 1992’s Batman: The Animated Series, and The Batman. Additionally, Poison Ivy has appeared in multiple animated feature films, including Justice League vs. The Fatal Five, Batman: Assault on Arkham, and Batman Ninja. Since Poison Ivy has been such a massive success in the animated world, it seems a pretty obvious move for DC to bring her character into the DCEU fold and capitalize on the character.

Future DCEU Projects Poison Ivy Could Appear In

The most likely instance of a live-action Poison Ivy appearing again is in the upcoming The Penguin series on Max. While she has not been confirmed, if the inaugural season proves a success, Ivy could appear either as an adversary to Penguin or as a patient at Arkham Asylum. There is also a possibility that Ivy will appear in the next Matt Reeves Batman movie, titled The Batman – Part II. However, both Reeves and Robert Pattinson have named several villains they’d like to explore in future installments, and neither mentioned Poison Ivy.

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The future of DC is very much up in the air, and James Gunn has squashed the promise of a Gotham City Sirens movie with Poison Ivy. Still, plenty of projects in the works could potentially include Poison Ivy. The Waller TV series could see Ivy working for the Suicide Squad as she has been a part of the team in the comics.

The Brave and The Bold is set to be the ongoing Batman movie series in the main continuity, though we may not see her in the first film, given the focus seems to be more on building up the Bat-family. The Swamp Thing movie is a slightly long shot, but given the two are connected by the mythical force called The Green, there is still a slim chance she will appear in the film. Having Ivy as part of Swamp Thing could tie the universe together and firmly establish a link between Batman and Swamp Thing, opening the door for crossovers.

Ivy’s Complicated Legacy Might Be Holding Her Back

DC Comics

One of the major factors making DC more trepidatious about pulling the trigger on Poison Ivy is her status in popular culture has shifted. While the idea of an eco-terrorist in the 60s was a fun comic book idea and it was easy to root against over-the-top villainy, in the 21st century, as people have become more concerned about the state of the planet and climate change is a real danger, it has now become hard to root against her. In many ways, the public perception of Ivy has shifted where she is seen as an anti-hero, and Batman seems wrong, upholding an unjust status quo.

The Harley Quinn animated series has done a great job giving Ivy more depth and making her not only more sympathetic but also highlighting how she is technically in the right (although the killer instincts certainly are bad). DC could position Ivy as sort of an anti-hero in live-action, but then that means Batman loses one of his most iconic villains and also means that now all three of his most prominent female villains, from Harley Quinn and Catwoman to Ivy, are now all anti-heroes.

While DC might not want to lose the status of one of their most iconic villains, they also need to adjust and understand that times change and people’s perceptions of characters change as well. The Joker will always be a bad guy, but Poison Ivy doesn’t have to be. Instead, her role in a future DC project could be someone who tests Batman and makes him realize he needs to do more for the planet.

We would love to see Poison Ivy in a more integral role, and whether it comes with the ‘Chapter 1: Gods and Monsters’ of the DCU is yet to be seen. Hopefully, when she makes her next appearance, it will be in a big way that pushes the character into the deserved spotlight.

Instered in James Gunn’s future DCU plans? Check out this video on the topic on what is in store for the popular superhero brand.


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