There are definitely a lot of movies that, in an attempt to be progressive and utilitarian, have pushed well-meaning but obvious and awkward agendas. I almost heart-wrenchingly name The Avengers series, which in one of its last-ever scenes pulled together its entire female ensemble as a show of strength. Somewhere in my heart, I appreciated it, but mostly, it made me cringe, as it was painfully transparent and definitely not enough! Especially considering that it was only ten seconds versus the entire two-plus hours that the rest of the male-dominated cast got…
Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey was a breath of fresh air. Anti-heroes are always fun, but it’s even more fun when they’re wearing tons of exciting makeup and this gorgeous blue blazer. It’s especially fun when there are no scenes centered around a bunch of (frankly) boring-looking men sitting around a table in the Pentagon, but instead, every scene that could’ve been serious is punctuated with colorful comic-style captions, unexpected flashes of color, or showers of suspicious white powder.
Despite popular consensus, there was very little apparent “feminist agenda” involved. What is being called a “feminist” film is simply a majority female cast in what would usually be a man’s world. Outside of that, it is really just women existing in real life— they are dynamic and flawed and oftentimes just as annoying as Harley Quinn was to so many characters in the film. So, what Birds of Prey was able to capture was women in real life, in the shoes of these crazy villains and heroes.
Just like real women, they dressed equally for comfort and for style— it wasn’t a repeat of Suicide Squad, where actress Margot Robbie expressed her discomfort with her costume to the director just to be quickly shut down. While she may not be the same Harley Quinn from Suicide Squad, she was nevertheless equally as Harley, from the wisecracks to the signature heart tattoo on her cheek.
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But if you think about it, it really doesn’t make sense to expect the same Harley Quinn. The premise of Birds of Prey is that she and the Joker have broken up. In Suicide Squad, there is no mention or even foreshadowing of their eventual breakup, so for them to be over, things had to have changed.
Change is okay. It’s okay to have an all-female ensemble cast. It’s okay to make a super-hero/super-villain movie that focuses on flawed women who come together to defeat some guy who peels faces off. This movie was absolutely necessary for the cinema world. It managed to bring together an all-female group of protagonists without making it feel forced or unnatural. Check it out in theaters near you!