Ever since Justice League in 2017, DC Films has been trying to find their footing. Aquaman was great, even with butchering the best song of the 80s (how the hell do you do that to Toto’s Africa?), but then Shazam hit the magic spot of being both critically successful and popular with audiences. And of course we just had Joker, and while it’s not part of the DCEU, it’s their crown jewel right now.
Which brings us to Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn). Unlike Joker this one is squarely in the DCEU. It’s set after events of Suicide Squad, which are referenced and seen with a reused shot or two, and this is the same Harley we saw in that movie. Her origin, arrest by Batman, and even Captain Boomerang are all mentioned in the movie. But at the same time the movie carves out a little corner of Gotham for itself meaning you don’t have to be familiar with the past movies to understand what’s going on.
To be clear, this is a Harley Quinn movie that acts as a short origin for the Birds of Prey. It’s like an episode of a Harley TV series acting as a backdoor pilot for the Bird of Prey. Barbara Gordon fans have been mad that she’s not in this movie, but honestly with it being a Harley movie that introduces the Birds; she really would’ve been wasted. It’s much better to wait for the solo Batgirl movie to introduce Babs, and then have her team up with the Birds in the sequel.
I think one thing some people might be missing from the movie is that the Tarantino-style non-linear first act fits with Harley’s stream of consciousness perfectly. Remember, Joker zapped her head with shock therapy; so she’s just a bit crazy. Which fits how the first act of the movie plays out with the action continuously backup up and rewinding to catch you up on the story.
And the story is pretty simple. Cassandra Cain swallows a diamond that Ewan McGregor’s great Black Mask wants so everyone is after a the little girl. The gangsters want to carve her open, and Harley just wants to make her take a dump. Eventually Huntress, Black Canary, Renee Montoya, and Harley all come together to protect Cassandra and the Birds of Prey are formed.
I really want to see a sequel with the Birds with Babs. We have a great Huntress and Black Canary here and it’ll be a shame if they don’t show up again; especially since we get a great tease of the comic book costumes in the movie. It really leaves you wanting a full movie with them and Babs.
Black Mask has been a long time favorite villain of Gotham, and Ewan McGregor knocks it out of the park giving us easily the best DCEU villain yet. But Victor Zsasz isn’t wasted either. He’s been done on screen before, but never this well.
I really liked Birds of Prey and want more Harley movies and more Birds of Prey movies. It leaves so many doors open I hope WB doesn’t abandon these characters. It’s not even two hours long, doesn’t really feel slow at any part, and the action is absolutely fantastic with a great soundtrack. Just go in understanding this is a Harley movie being used to introduce the team.