“Birds of Prey” brings power to women in DC fashion

Hannah Lorenzo, Copy Chief

Warning: This movie is rated R. As the DC universe pours out its fair share of movies, fans have been disappointed. Annoying punchlines and nonsensical content continued to fill the cinema screens with movies like “Justice League” and “Aquaman”. However, the newly refurbished versions of movies from the past have not completely delved into the villains of DC, which led the public to wonder if DC would fail yet again to produce something worthy of watching. In this case, there may still be hope as one villain takes the stage for her solo debut.

“Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)” was released on Feb 7, with much anticipation from DC fans. Ever since the release of “Suicide Squad”, Harley Quinn, played by Margot Robbie, made a standout performance as Joker’s partner and one of the unexpected saviors of the world, but afterwards, it was difficult not to be curious about her own storyline. 

Once it was confirmed that Harley Quinn would be having her own movie, fans were over-the-moon excited, but they were skeptical, since recently, DC has not been known for their fantastic screenplays. Regardless, “Birds of Prey” had potential to be an improvement from previous movies, but still came out short with only a $33+ box office opening, making it one of the worst openings for DC.

Despite its possible predispositions for failure, “Birds of Prey” turned out to be one of the best productions from DC to date. The storyline never failed to keep the audience’s attention with its hilarious situations, nonstop action, and a dash of sympathy for the villains. Plus, the focus on the women of DC added a sense of sass that kicked men’s butts, making for a satisfying way to empower women. 

This movie centers around none other than the infamous Harley Quinn, who last made an appearance escaping prison with her clown prince, Joker, played by Jared Leto, but with a fast forward to the present, it is discovered that she and Joker have broken up. Although this is mentioned right away at the beginning, it would have been a little more interesting to see scenes with Joker and Harley as it could have added more context to their breakup. It looks like the movie intended to direct attention on Harley’s journey to independence, which was still a successful move, but either way, the storyline would not have been interrupted.

With newfound freedom from prison and an insane ex, Harley plans to find a new lease on life, which mainly meant a constant stream of partying and alcohol. However, this did not come easy for her because being the Joker’s girlfriend gave her immunity from the people who wanted to hunt her down. Since Joker was out of the way, Harley was dead meat, especially to Roman Sionis (Black Mask), played by Ewan McGregor, one of the craziest villains of Gotham. It was a nice twist to see McGregor as a villain after his role as Danny from “Doctor Sleep”, and he definitely plays his part well, showcasing his acting chops with a maniacal side. 

Harley attempts to escape death by agreeing to steal back a precious treasure from a young thief named Cassandra Cain, played by Ella Jay Basco, who actually plays a bigger role in the DC universe, which has been altered here. In the comics, Cassandra Cain is a trained assassin who grows up to be Batgirl, but her role as a mischievous orphan in “Birds of Prey” completely changes what fans have known about her for a long time. Still, this does not seem to negatively impact the movie or lore, since the focus is on Harley, but future DC productions will have to deal with the situation, for the fans’ understanding.

So, Harley goes on a wild ride doing Roman’s bidding, but finds her true self along the way. Throughout the movie, it is absolutely amazing to see Harley develop as the main character in her own movie, away from being a servant to Joker. The feminine viewpoint is enough for the audience to cheer as she hammers her way to emancipation with her trusty mallet and some powerful women to help her defeat Sionis. DC villains turned heroes, such as Black Canary, played by Jurnee Smollett-Bell, and Huntress, played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead, continue to stand behind women’s empowerment alongside Harley, especially in a comic book world full of arrogant men, and prove to be better than the sidekicks they were meant to be. 

As for the actress herself, Robbie does an outstanding job playing Harley Quinn, right down to the Brooklyn accent. Her portrayal of Harley’s craziness and self-love is well-done, along with the physique to roller skate to victory, which seems to be Harley’s specialty. Overall, the character of Harley Quinn touched people’s hearts despite her violent pastimes of falling into acid and breaking men’s bones. Rather than insert cheesy content, “Birds of Prey” was more than just a solo debut for Harley; it opened up a world for DC to fix their past mistakes and create something that the audience desired: a movie without the heroic cliches. 

“Birds of Prey” highlights a monumental turning point for the DC universe. Being the first DC movie to be released in 2020, people’s expectations were already set to the lowest setting, but this movie turned it all the way back up. Fans were greeted with not only an extraordinary Harley story, but also gained the opportunity to meet the new versions of beloved DC women, which could open more doors to create screen productions for them in the future, and hopefully better ones. Contrary to popular belief, “Birds of Prey” proves that DC finally produced a movie with real value and a solid storyline, and one can enjoy watching it with the “perfect egg sandwich”, as Harley Quinn would put it.