Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn (2020)

Birds of Prey (2020)

Margot Robbie returns to the movie screen for her second appearance as the lovable comic book villain Harley Quinn. This time around joins a new group of butt-kicking characters all out on a mission of redemption.

It might be a minor hurdle to believe, but it has been 28 years since Paul Dini and Bruce Timm introduced the world to Harley Quinn with her appearance on Batman the Animated Series (Episode: “Joker’s Favor”, September 11, 1992). Just like with the proceeding movie Suicide Squad (2016), it’s great to see a collaborative blend of several different minor characters and groups from the DC Comics universe roll into a stand-alone movie. A major praise-worthy element about Birds of Prey is the improvement of storytelling in comparison to the failed attempt of a rushed job with Suicide Squad. Although both movies do offer quite a bit of time spent on telling the backstory of the supporting characters, it is all matter of presentation and pacing of the elements and how it would hinder or help move the plot of the movie along from one act to the next.

Another enjoyable element about this movie is the heroic core of the story is led by all women at various stages in life. There is a bump in the road, because the premise of female dominant troupe does not authentically pass the Bechdel Test. Yes, it does meet two out of three primary rules to pass the test. However, it does not pass the last rule for the entire run of the movie. There are several references in the dialogue, and even in the title of the movie, about Harley’s relationship with Joker and the struggle she faces of owning her completely owning identity without needing to rely on him.

This movie can be a great launching point for the Birds of Prey troupe to continue on with a follow-up movie or even a reboot of the 2002 single season television program, either with or without Harley Quinn. I would love to see their story continue on with more content and they have already appeared in various comic book publications as a group and as supporting characters in other stories (browse through the Arrowverse programs on The CW as an example).

There are a few enjoyable references to Suicide Squad littered throughout the movie, such as the moment with Harley blowing up the ACE Chemicals factory and then later on in this movie there is an appearance of a wanted poster for Boomerang hanging on a wall in the police department.

This movie is an excellent attempt at redemption from all the mistakes and sins that were committed during the production and release of Suicide Squad, which I believe was a movie produced by a committee of studio executives and not by the group of movie makers who were hired to tell a good story.

A note-worthy point would be to mention that Birds of Prey is definitely not your kid’s run of the mill comic book movie. It’s an R-rated action flick that features comic book characters and it is clearly geared towards the adults who want to fondly remember the nostalgic years of their childhood animated entertainment of yesteryear while still being entertained as an adult. It would probably provoke an irksome grunt from Alan Moore, but not everyone will always be pleased all the time.

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