What You Need to Know About Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)
Do comic book junkies realize how good they have it these days? Tony Stark is a household name, live-action superhero TV series run every day of the week, and Aquaman – the crown prince of superhero joke punchlines – earned over a billion dollars at the box office.
With Captain Marvel and Avengers: Endgame right around the corner, MCU fans have much to look forward to. Not to be outdone, Warner Bros. threw fans a bone, dropping a few early looks at what to expect from their upcoming Birds of Prey/Harley Quinn movie.
The quality of Warner Bros.’ DC film slate is all over the map. One bright spot is Margot Robbie’s breakout performance as Harley Quinn in 2016’s Suicide Squad. The sexy, psychotic, serial offender has always been a fan favourite, but Robbie’s work in the film took Harley’s popularity to another level. Walk the floor of a Con, and you can’t turn your head without seeing a cosplayer rocking Harley’s reinvented look – two-toned ponytails, red/blue hot pants, and face tattoo. Well, now it’s time for those cosplayers to change it up. Robbie took to Instagram to show-off Harley’s “Fantabulous” new look.
And to mark the occasion, Fandango released a new teaser trailer showing Harley (and other Birds of Prey characters) in action.
The teaser drops some ultra-quick looks at the Birds of Prey’s main players: Huntress, Black Canary, Renee Montoya, Cassandra Cain, Victor Zsasz, and Black Mask. More on them in a minute.
In DC Comics’ lore, Dr. Harleen Quinzel was a promising psychiatrist working in Gotham’s notorious home for the criminally insane, Arkham Asylum. Qunizel’s life took a dark turn after she began treating The Joker, who intentionally drove her mad. Quinzel helped break The Joker out of Arkham and took on the mantle of Harley Quinn, his adoring lover and deadly sidekick.
Harley Quinn was first introduced in the classic 1992 TV show, Batman: The Animated Series. Since then she has become a major part of Batman lore, appearing in cartoons, video games, and even a live-action series. It didn’t take long for fans to fall in love with Harley, and she deserves a star on the Batman villain walk of fame alongside The Riddler, The Penguin, and Catwoman. Fans have waited decades to see their favourite Gotham City Siren on screen, which made the Suicide Squad experience bittersweet.
Robbie’s turn as Harley was one of Suicide Squad’s few bright spots, and Warner Bros. plans on taking full advantage of the character’s momentum. As of today, Robbie is set to reprise her role as Harley Quinn in four films. Let’s run them down.
Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) — Release date/2020
After splitting up with the Joker, Harley Quinn joins three female superheroes – Black Canary, Huntress and Renee Montoya – to save the life of a little girl (Cassandra Cain) from an evil crime lord.
Untitled Joker/Harley Quinn Project — Release date N/A
A criminal love story between Harley Quinn and the Joker.
Suicide Squad 2 — Release date N/A
This plot is still under wraps, but we all know what we’re in for.
Gotham City Sirens — Release date N/A
Following three of Gotham City’s most notorious female criminals [likely Harley, Poison Ivy, and Catwoman] on one of their most dangerous missions yet.
Right now, of the four films, Birds of Prey shows the most potential. First, it’s going dark, aiming for an R – rating. Suicide Squad, which was super dark (visually and tonally) was only PG. We are overdue for a superheroine team-up film, but finally seeing characters like Huntress and Black Canary realized on screen may almost make it worth the wait.
These ladies stalk evildoers through the DC universe’s darkest corners and often cross paths with Batman, Ra’s al Ghul, and Nightwing, so they’re more than deserving of the silver screen treatment. The Birds of Prey are great characters with rich backstories just waiting for the right filmmaker to come along and bring them to life.
The Birds of Prey movie has already assembled a Justice League of Hollywood talent. Mary Elizabeth Winstead stars as Huntress, Jurnee Smollett-Bell will play Black Canary, and Ewan McGregor stars as the film’s big bad, Black Mask. You can also expect to see Rosie Perez as Renee Montoya, Chris Messina as Victor Zsasz, and Ella Jay Basco as Cassandra Cain.
The director, Cathy Yan, has only one feature under her belt, a well-received film called Dead Pigs. A quick look at Dead Pigs’ trailer might make you a fan. Yan has an eye for striking compositions, vivid imagery, and dazzling use of colours. And according to our man @SmallMind, “Yan’s characters, regardless of which side of the social hierarchy they fall on, are layered and feel like real people rather than caricatures.” That’s all I need to hear.
And I have to say, it’s nice to see Hollywood plucking promising female filmmakers from the talent pool and handing over the keys to blockbuster film franchises. It’s been standard practice for years, but only for directors with Y chromosomes – I’m looking at you Colin Trevorrow, Josh Trank and Gareth Edwards.
What has me most excited about the picture is the announcement that Christina Hodson is working on the screenplay. Hodson wrote the latest Transformers movie, Bumblebee. Based on what she delivered in Bumblebee, Hodson is a miracle-worker. She added emotional texture to the characters and sentimental themes about family to the plot, and all of a sudden, a series about a robot apocalypse felt a lot like an early 80s’ Spielberg picture. Hodson also took over the upcoming Batgirl movie, a project that was once in the hands of the nerd-God himself, Joss Whedon.
Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) looks like it’s on the right track. It helps that the billion-dollar hit Aquaman stepped out from under the Snyder-verse’s dark and angsty shadow. Also working in this movie’s favour, Birds of Prey features scores of talented people in front of and behind the camera. But most importantly, it draws from Gotham City’s deep, twisted, and beloved mythology. We’ve seen other promising DC Comics’ films go off the rails before, but right now I feel optimistic about this project. I’m going on the record and saying we should all be keeping an eye out for Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn).