Birds of Prey Take Flight


Aaron Michaels and Maggie Brown

Although 2016’s Suicide Squad was met with mixed reviews, there was no denying the star power behind Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn. Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) sees Harley forging a new identity beyond Mr. J’s looming shadow. A solo outing allows all of the best parts of Harleen Quinzel on center stage, and oh, does she rock it. BOP shows audiences that this is Harley’s world and we’re all living in it. Just like Quinn herself, Birds of Prey is fun, frenetic, and full of flair.

Despite being the DCEU’s 7th outing, Birds of Prey is the film that gives us our best look at this version of Gotham to date. Gotham City does not only belong to the Dark Knight and the rooftops he lurks atop. Through Harley’s eyes, Gotham is a wild playground with enough nightclubs and roller rinks to give the Clown Princess of Crime her fill of fun. Birds of Prey’s best asset is Harley’s zany, fourth-wall-breaking narration (including a 4-minute segway on where to find the best egg sandwich in Gotham). But this iteration of Gotham City isn’t all glitter bombs and nail polish. When her crimes finally catch up to her, reality hits Harley harder than her own baseball bat. Harley (as usual) bites off more than she can chew, agreeing to find a diamond belonging to the richest supervillain in Gotham—Black Mask, played with relish by Ewan McGregor. With Black Mask and his henchman Victor Zsaz on her tail, Harley finds herself in the crosshairs of the GCPD and quickly realizes she needs some help. This is when Harley Quinn finds her flock. 

Enter Renee Montoya, Cassandra Cain, Huntress, and the Black Canary (the aforementioned BIRDS OF PREY). While these heroes lay second fiddle to Harley’s thrill-filled journey to emancipation, they are no joke. The contrast between Harley and her new girl gang allows for the new characters, especially Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s Huntress, to shine. Black Canary and Huntress have some of the best character development in the DCEU—and yes, that includes Superman, who has blundered through 3 movies without a hint of plot continuity. The Birds of Prey, however, don’t waste a single second of their 2 hours of screentime. 

Each member of the team brings something new to the table, including their own unique fighting styles. Huntress is skilled in hand-to-hand combat while also harboring an aim that would put Hawkeye to shame. Renee Montoya is a detective with Gotham’s police department and her training proves a foil to Black Mask’s goons (both her punches and her brass knuckles). Black Canary’s roundhouse kicks provide some of the best action sequences in the film, but the true kicker (hehe, get it?) is her signature Canary Cry, a supersonic scream that can launch an adult man several feet into the air. Needless to say, when the Canary sings, you listen. 

While this iteration of the Birds of Prey kicks serious tail, make no mistake; this is very much a Harley Quinn film. Her brand of humor and spunk is exactly what the DCEU needed. Batfleck never took off, Superman died 2 movies into his saga, and Wonder Woman and Aquaman nearly singlehandedly holding the franchise together; Harley Quinn is the breath of fresh air that’s been sorely missing. Harley’s complex characterization and many fleshed out layers to who she is that gets those fans to stay. Jim Lee, DC Comics Chief Creative Officer spoke of Harley Quinn’s importance to DC’s brand: “I refer to her as the fourth pillar in our publishing line, behind Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman.” That’s an intense legacy for a character who was created on a whim. When Harley Quinn made her debut in the Batman: the Animated Series episode “Joker’s Favor,” she was meant to only exist for that one episode. Now, she’s approaching her 28th anniversary and being referred to as the fourth pillar in DC’s Trinity characters. Harley Quinn is a legacy character, and her spotlight in Birds of Prey is well-deserved.

Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) is a joy from beginning to end and is in theatres now!