Yesterday saw the long anticipated release of the first full trailer for DC’s Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of one Harley Quinn). The film releases in just over four months, and it is a fascinating next step for the much discussed DCEU, and in this post I will take a look at what the movie will be about, why it became what it did, and the impact it could have on the future of the DCEU.
Back in 2016, following the huge commercial success of David Ayer’s Suicide Squad, it was announced he would direct a film called Gotham City Sirens. This would reunite him with Squad standout Margot Robbie, who would again play Harley Quinn, and would also feature two of DC’s most popular characters in Catwoman and Poison Ivy. However, due to the critical fallout from Suicide Squad, and the multiple Harley projects that were then tentatively announced, the film never got made. The DCEU has only released 4 films since Suicide Squad in August 2016 as it has been trying to course correct, but through this time, they have been determined to get Harley Quinn back on the silver screen as soon as possible. This then lead to them offering Margot Robbie a Harley Quinn solo film, which she would then proceed to produce. However, due to Margot’s feeling that Harley should be part of a ‘girl gang’ and the fact she wanted to highlight lesser seen DC heroine’s, this all lead to the announcement that Harley would feature in a Birds of Prey film, and Margot also took the great step of hiring Cathy Yan to direct, as she is an Asian director who had only made a couple of very small indie films, but was given an opportunity that is readily given to many men, but rarely to women or people of colour.
In the comics, Birds of Prey usually features Barbara Gordon (Batgirl/Oracle), Helena Bertinelli (Huntress) and Dinah Lance (Black Canary), but two scripts were written, one with Gordon in and one without (but both featuring Harley, who isn’t a part of the team usually). In the end, the script chosen didn’t feature Gordon, and this is long rumoured because she may play a big part in Matt Reeves’ new Batman trilogy, which will link into the main DCEU, but in a way so far undisclosed. This has been a recurring theme in the development of Birds of Prey, I believe the reason there isn’t a Gotham City Sirens film is because Reeves wants to cast his own Catwoman and have her as a main character in The Batman, and he also wants to have his own Penguin be a part of that film, which is why the Penguin is no longer a villain in Birds of Prey like was originally intended. I feel like this has resulted in Birds of Prey being something of a throw together to still ensure Harley gets her return to the DCEU, and hopefully will be a fun building block to continue this part of the cinematic universe, building towards a Gotham City Sirens movie and much more in the near future.
As for the film itself, it will focus on Harley Quinn after she has broken up with the Joker and she is searching for emancipation, while also crossing paths with Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), Black Canary (Jurnee Smollett-Bell), Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez), and Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco), with Ewan McGregor starring as villain Black Mask who is chasing them down. The trailer shows us the film will be packed full of action, style, and humour, with a huge focus on Harley Quinn and her emotional development. It looks like it is presenting a neon dripped version of Gotham City unlike we have seen before, and I personally cannot wait for it, and the way it will set up the future.
Margot Robbie will return again as Harley Quinn in 2021 for James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad, and after that, I wouldn’t be surprised if she appeared in at least a film a year in the DCEU for years to come. Long live “the one, the only, the infamous, Harley Quinn”.