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The Short-Lived TV Series That Shared A Universe With Michael Keaton's Batman

Shared live-action universes are the hottest thing in Hollywood, with almost every studio rushing to recreate the massive success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Most attempts famously crashed and burned before a second movie could even begin production – just look at Universal's Dark Universe – but DC Entertainment has always been on the edge of success. 

Though the company's plans for a connected movie universe are undergoing yet another reboot after the merger of Warner Bros. and Discovery, it has had consistent success since it began adapting its comic book characters for movies and TV. Before Marvel Studios entered the picture, DC nearly had complete control over the superhero industry. They had created numerous highly successful live-action films and even managed to create a shared universe between some of their critically acclaimed animated TV series. 

A connected live-action universe that includes movies and TV shows was an unheard-of concept at the time. Marvel Studios made the idea a reality with the MCU's theatrical releases and Disney+ series, leaving DC to play catchup. Even though Marvel Studios has been more successful in their attempts at a shared universe, DC attempted to make the idea a reality long before.

Birds of Prey was DC's first attempt at connecting movies and TV shows

Before Robert Downey Jr. became Tony Stark or even Christian Bale's iconic Batman trilogy, DC wanted to expand on the universe created in Tim Burton's "Batman" and "Batman Returns." That idea came to fruition with the short-lived 2002 TV series "Birds of Prey." The series followed Helena Kyle (Huntress), the daughter of Michael Keaton's Batman and Michelle Pfeiffer's Catwoman, and included versions of Batgirl and Black Canary. The series featured Ashley Scott, Dina Meyer, and Rachel Skarsten in the lead roles. Mia Sara played Dr. Harleen Quinzel, later revealed to be Harley Quinn, the villain mastermind the trio was trying to stop (via IMDb). 

While neither Keaton nor Pfeiffer appeared in the series, DC established a connection to their characters through the trailers and opening credits. Both actors received credits for their very brief appearances, but neither returned to film new footage. The show instead used archival footage from "Batman Returns" to explain the connection and why both characters were absent from the series. 

"Birds of Prey" disregarded previous sequels "Batman Forever" and "Batman & Robin" and attempted to establish a new canon as a direct continuation of "Batman Returns." In this version, Bruce Wayne disappeared after the events of the movie, convinced that Catwoman had died. Not only was she alive, but Selina Kyle also secretly gave birth to their daughter, Helena. When she was young, Helena witnessed her mother's death, which is very reminiscent of Bruce's childhood tragedy. As an adult, Helena, a metahuman with cat-like powers, works with Barbara Gordan and others to continue Batman's war against crime in Gotham (via Ashley Scott/Youtube). 

Though the series saw initial popularity, The WB ultimately canceled it after one season and drastically decreased viewership.