Birds of Prey: Brutally Violent and full of Harley Quinn

You know what a harlequin is? A harlequin's role is to serve. It's nothing without a master - Harley Quinn

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Warner Brothers

The Birds of Prey core cast from left to right; Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez), Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), Ella Jay Basco (Cassandra Cain), & Black Canary (Jurnee Smollett-Bell)

by Noah Hlavaty, Editor-in-Chief

 Appearing opposite fools and jesters, the harlequin was a female subservient whose outlandish costuming and foolish nature brought laughter to lords and ladies of 16th Century French courts. DC Comics, known for adapting historical themes to create characters for the DC villains arsenal, heavily modeled Harley Quinn off the classically defined harlequin. 

First seen together in the extended music-video bomb that became Suicide Squad, Quinn and the Joker were Gotham City’s chemically doused Bonnie and Clyde. Looming over the film like green and purple shadow, the Joker continues to influence Quinn’s decisions even after the duo’s separation and his lack of screentime.

Birds of Prey director Cathy Yan was quick to remove Jared Leto from the film after toxic reviews from his characterization of Joker. 

For her sophomore outing as the Gotham queen of crime, Margot Robbie exemplifies the emotionally broken Quinn in search for a new identity without her “Mister J”. Robbie fought for nearly five years on an R-rated, female-led & produced, superhero ensemble film that stressed independence from male leads.

Birds of Prey lead Harley Quinn during a prison breakout sequence co-directed by Chad Stahelski (John Wick)

Warner Brothers were the first studio to have a female-directed comic-book movie and included one of the first superhero adaptations with female leads. Despite the large box office pull of Wonder Woman in 2017, producers and movie executives from WB weren’t confident that a sequel to Suicide Squad with an all-female cast could be profitable and achieve critical acclaim.

During its opening weekend, Birds of Prey became certified fresh on RottenTomatoes with an 80% critic score. For comparison, Batman v. Superman, Justice League, and Man of Steel all scored lower than 60% critically. 

Birds of Prey could only exist with the massive critical and commercial success of the Deadpool franchise. Both films draw on unconventional story-telling, fourth-wall-breaking, rampant profanity, and garish dismemberment to separate from traditional superhero flicks. 

Ewan McGregor, who plays nightclub owner and wannabe Gotham crime lord Black Mask, forces Quinn to use her skills to find a stolen diamond. Inscribed with the location of several offshore accounts belonging to an old gangster family, Black Mask sees the diamond as his chance to own the corrupt city of Gotham. 

Quinn and the three Birds of Prey, Huntress, Black Canary, and Renee Montoya, come together and find the diamond thief. Determined to protect the kid who pickpocketed the wrong crime lord, the Birds team up to protect the kid against Black Mask and his goons. 

Birds of Prey (and the fantabulous emancipation of one Harley Quinn) provides a colorful, albeit adult, take on the notorious female DC antihero.