“Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)” have two things that I love: Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) and a group of women kicking ass.
When the film was announced last year, DC fans hoped that it would be better than “Suicide Squad,” which wasn’t met well despite winning an Oscar for Best Makeup and Hairstyling. The first sign that made fans hopeful was director Cathy Yan saying she wanted to create strong narratives surrounding the female protagonists. Margot Robbie, who’s the executive producer, also fought to have Yan on board since “Birds of Prey” is—to quote the actress—”a girl gang film.”
“Historically, female filmmakers aren’t given the same opportunities, and we all need to be making conscious efforts to even out those statistics. But beyond that, there was going to be so many integral female characters in this story, in the Harley Quinn one, the girl gang film, that I wanted a truly female point of view and perspective on telling that story,” said Robbie in a 2018 IndieWire interview.
The result is a fun action film about women fighting evil and being freeing themselves from their own chains. (As we already know from the trailer, Harley got out of her abusive relationship with Joker.) Of course, we also got to see Harley’s quirkiness and intelligence, and how she worked with her newfound companions Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco), Black Canary (Jurnee Smollett-Bell), Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez). While I don’t think it’s the best DC movie for me, at least it succeeded in place where “Suicide Squad” failed—from the humor to having a rational, non-mystical antagonist.
You’re free to debate me on this if you’ve seen “Birds of Prey” but we can all agree that any DC movie is better than “Suicide Squad.”
I also took some notes on what the “Birds of Prey” did right, namely how it did justice to the heroines.
The outfits aren’t sexualized
For the longest time, comic book heroines have been presented in impractical, hypersexualized costumes to cater to the male gaze. One popular example is Wonder Woman, who wears a short dress and boots. The reboot starring Gal Gadot changed the costume to make it look like armor, which is only fitting for a heroine that deflects bullets.
In “Birds of Prey,” each costume reflects the characters’ personalities without showing too much skin. Costume designer Erin Benach told Parade.com that she made pieces “connecting with women in a strong, respectful way.” This included high-waisted pants and athletic crop tops instead of body-shaping latex. Every piece—down to Harley’s roller blades—had a purpose.
There have been so many hints in the comics and animated series that Harley and Poison Ivy are more than friends. In “Birds of Prey,” it was acknowledged that Harley has had relationships with women before meeting the Joker, confirming that she is bisexual in the DC Extended Universe. Yay for bi representation!
Giving evil men the middle finger
One of my favorite lines is from a scene in which drunk Harley talks to Black Canary in a bar: “Do you know what a harlequin is? A harlequin’s role is to serve. It’s nothing without a master. And no one gives two shits who we are beyond that.” For me, this quote is what brings all the women together as t they emancipate themselves from evil men like Joker, Black Mask (Ewan McGregor) and the mafia gang who killed Huntress’ family. In Detective Montoya’s case, this involves trying to get the recognition she deserves instead of the incompetent police officers in her workplace.
“Birds of Prey” succeeded in showing these women rise above adversity because they’re done being some man’s errand girl.
An all-female soundtrack
No film is complete without a solid soundtrack and “Birds of Prey” has an all-female album featuring artists like Normani, Meghan Thee Stallion, Doja Cat and Halsey. We can’t wait to hear the soundtrack in full.
Photos courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures
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