So long, Deadshot and smell ya later, Killer Croc. Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn is returning with an all-new squad in next February’s creatively titled Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn). The Cathy Yan-directed movie wrapped production this week, and the star shared the good news (and a new logo) via Instagram.
Birds of Prey is the DC Extended Universe‘s first team-up movie since 2017’s ill-fated Justice League misadventure, which holds the distinction of being the DCEU’s lowest-grossing movie despite featuring all of the company’s biggest heroes. Thankfully, solo adventures like Wonder Woman, the billion-dollar grossing Aquaman and, most recently, Shazam, have renewed enthusiasm for the company’s menagerie of colorful heroes, anti-heroes and villains.
All three of those personality types will be represented in Birds of Prey, based on the popular comic book that first hit stands in 1996 and has served as a showcase for some of DC’s best female heroes. Robbie has said in interviews that she’s long been eager for Harley to be part of an “R-rated girl gang film,” and that vibe was on display in an ultra-short, ultra-promising viral teaser that was released on Jan. 28 via a private YouTube account. More footage screened at CinemaCon earlier this month as part of a Warner Bros. presentation, and the reaction in the room was very positive. With everything over but the waiting (and editing), here’s everything we know about the movie so far.
Harley’s had a makeover
Even though it inspired waves of cosplay imitators, Robbie herself didn’t feel comfortable with Harley’s skimpy Suicide Squad outfit. The character’s Birds of Prey appearance is still in keeping with her punk-glam aesthetic, but this time it feels like she’s dressing for her own pleasure, and not for the fanboy crowd. That might have something to do with the significant behind-the-camera change.
In a notable — and long overdue — first, both of the DCEU’s 2020 blockbuster sequels will be helmed by women. Patty Jenkins is returning to direct and co-write Diana Prince’s next adventure, Wonder Woman 1984, while Yan is riding shotgun with Harley Quinn & co. She’s the first Chinese-American director to call “Action!” on a major superhero movie, and she’ll be directing a script written by Christina Hodson, who just penned the hands-down best Transformers movie, Bumblebee. “It was hugely important to find a female director for this, if possible,” Robbie told Collider last May. But at the end of the day — male, female — the best director gets the job and Cathy was the best director.”
No Puddin’, no cry
Eager for a status update on the romance between Suicide Squad‘s red-hot lovers, Harley and the Joker? (That would be the Joker played by Jared Leto — not the one played by Joaquin Phoenix.) Look no further than Birds of Prey‘s parenthetical subtitle for confirmation that the Clown Couple of Crime is splitsville, and she’s not looking to be tied down again anytime soon. It should be noted that a Leto and Robbie reunion is looking increasingly unlikely as well. The Suicide Squad sequel — which James Gunn is directing before he turns his attention to Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 3 — is going to be a reboot with all-new characters, including one played by Idris Elba. And while Warner Bros. had plans for a Joker/Harley rom-com overseen by the Crazy, Stupid, Love team of Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, Robbie told Moviefone in May that she wasn’t part of those discussions. Meanwhile, Leto has moved on to Sony’s burgeoning pocket of the Marvel Universe, teasing his upcoming role as the living vampire, Morbius, just as Joaquin Phoenix has been winning advanced raves for his dark version of the Joker in Todd Phillips’s upcoming origin story.
Where’s the bat, man?
Now that Ben Affleck is officially putting the Batcave in the rearview, the hunt will be on for a new actor to don the cowl in Matt Reeves’s The Batman, due in theaters on June 25, 2021. Reeves declined to name a replacement in a recent Hollywood Reporter interview, but did happily confirm that whoever is playing the new Dark Knight will have an entire rogues gallery to fight. Birds of Prey is rumored to sidestep the issue altogether by unfolding in a Gotham where Batman has disappeared and crime is on the upswing. “This is not Batman’s Gotham. It’s a scrappier Gotham,” the cast said at CinemaCon. But a new champion may enter the fray…
At the center of Birds of Prey‘s plot is young Cassandra Cain (newcomer Ella Jay Basco), who takes advantage of Gotham’s Batman-free state to lay her hands on a valuable diamond to the extreme displeasure of that gem’s owner. (More on him later.) Harley winds up becoming Cassandra’s unlikely protector in the ensuing scuffle, and takes the girl under her… well, wing. The character’s comic book history includes a lengthy stint as Batgirl, trained by the former woman to wear the mantle, Barbara Gordon. With Babs now back in uniform, Cassandra has adopted the identity of Orphan. That sounds like a more likely alter ego for this version of Cain, since Harley is her tutor rather than Bruce or Barbara — who, let’s not forget, is still waiting to make her DCEU debut. But if the Batcave is empty, someone‘s gotta play with all of Alfred’s toys.
Harley’s not down with the BoP
According to Robbie, her emancipated alter ego has little interest in joining Gotham’s new class of heroes when she first meets them. First up is Huntress (Mary Elisabeth Winstead), a costumed crimefighter who has alternately been Batman and Catwoman’s daughter on another Earth and a Mafia daughter avenging her murdered parents. There’s also Black Canary (Jurnee Smollett-Bell), who has a mean scream to match her tough look. Meanwhile, representing law and order in this otherwise lawless place is Gotham City police detective, Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez), seen swinging a baton in the teaser video. Eventually, the four women find common ground in protecting Cassandra and beating up bad guys. The CinemaCon footage featured such turbo-charged moments as a roller blade-wearing Harley hitching a ride on the back of a car.
Black Mask & Blondie
Chris Messina blew the internet’s mind when he turned up at the Golden Globes sporting a bold new platinum blond ‘do. The Birds of Prey teaser confirms that The Mindy Project star’s extreme makeover is part of his preparation to play serial killer, Victor Zsasz, who has tangled with Harley Quinn in the comic book pages. Ewan McGregor, on the other hand, appears mask-less in his brief appearance as Black Mask, the kingpin who lays claim to the diamond that Cassandra swiped. When he’s not running his criminal enterprise, he’s part of Gotham’s upper crust as Janus Cosmetic’s head honcho, Roman Sionis. Maybe he saves the mask for formal criminal occasions?
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