Don’t worry, no spoilers ahead!
This past weekend, my boyfriend and I decided we wanted to go see a movie. After much deliberation, I said I had been curious about the new Harley Quinn movie and he agreed. Both of us, as well as most of the general reviews, had disliked Suicide Squad but had enjoyed Margot Robbie’s portrayal of the iconic DC Comics character so I was pretty happy to hear she had her own movie. What particularly interested me was the fact that Birds of Prey had lost money opening weekend in the box office, and yet the reviews I had seen on Twitter were mostly positive, with people showering the film with praise so I had to see it for myself.
Without any spoilers, the film centers around Harley Quinn post-breakup with the Joker as she tries to establish herself as an individual alongside a new cast of powerful female characters partaking in typical comic-book-movie sequences with a main villain, action-packed fight scenes, and witty one-liners addressing the audience from our protagonists. Overall, I loved it.
For me, I was enamored with multiple layers of the film from the outfits worn by Robbie (huge shoutout to costume designer, Erin Benach) that were both colorful and trendy yet looked amazing on screen, to the soundtrack, to the witty dialogue. However, most important to me, was that the entire main cast of protagonists of the film were women.
Within recent years, women have been slowly creeping into the forefront of superhero/supervillain films with Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel however, seeing Harley Quinn as the focus of this film, a character who is outwardly a criminal and bad person, was refreshing as a female viewer. Typically in these female-focused films, the women are beautiful and strong as well as selfless and good-moraled people that you would be hard-pressed to find something wrong with them (though some viewers have tried, thinking Brie Larson’s depiction of Captain Marvel was too snarky). Harley Quinn is not. Yes, Margot Robbie is gorgeous and Harley Quinn shows that she is emotionally pretty strong in this film but she has hurt people and committed major crimes you cannot overlook and yet you root for her the entire film.
This isn’t uncommon in the superhero genre of film, with characters like Tony Stark and Scott Lang in Ant Man making questionable moral decisions yet still loved by audiences worldwide — but seeing a morally-questionable woman being the main protagonist is nearly unheard of. It was refreshing to me to finally allow women to be incredibly flawed and yet still made to be likeable in films in the same ways men have been portrayed for years. Plus, nothing gets me more excited than seeing diverse female-friendships and dynamics played out on the big screen.
While I did have a few critiques on this film as you would with any movie, I believe it is a huge step forward for women in the realm of superhero movies and media. Not every woman in these films has to be the angelic and rule-abiding good guy character, they can be the loveable morally-questionable flawed character and that’s just as valid as the Tony Starks of the genre.
All in all, I really loved this movie but more than that, I loved the message it gave and the precedent it is helping set for the genre and how it treats its female characters. If you have a spare two hours and are looking for a fun film, I highly recommend Birds of Prey!