Can 'Birds of Prey' save the DC cinematic universe?

Elisabetta Pulcini gives high praise to Birds of Prey

Elisabetta Pulcini
31st January 2019
Image: YouTube

The DC Extended Universe, officially referred to as the World of DC, has undeniably had some issues. With the shining exception of 2017’s ‘Wonder Woman’, most of their movies have either been deemed as too grim, too messy, or worst of all, simply forgettable. However, exciting new projects could bring a much needed sense of security to the francise. The recently titled ‘Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous emancipation of one Harley Quinn’ has the most appeal out of all of them. After splitting up from the Joker, insufferably played by Jared Leto in ‘Suicide Squad’, Harley Quinn, Black Canary Huntress and Renee Montoya team up to save a little girl from Black Mask, the main villain of the story.

While ensemble movies have not bode well for DC, with both ‘Justice League’ and ‘Suicide Squad’ being less than enthusiastic achievements for the brand, this movie has some elements that might distinguish it from its predecessors.

Firstly, a fantastic cast is at the forefront of this production. With Margot Robbie reprising her role as Harley Quinn, she might finally have a chance to shine as the movie’s protagonist. In fact, her joyous portrayal of the DC character was one of the only bearable parts of ‘Suicide Squad’, it is not farfetched to think that, already beloved in comic books and tv, this character could earn the same appreciation on the big screen, and take the lead as one of the most interesting characters in any super hero movie of this generation. Already, the fact that she is being put at the forefront of her own movie shows that creators at DC have recognized the potential in this character, and have plans to fully flash it out.

The all-female team working behind this movie gives hope for an updated view of this character

However, casting alone do not make a movie: even with a strong cast attached to it, ‘Justice League’ was mediocre at best. Moreover, the character of Harley has attracted controversies due to its portrayal of abusive relationships: her partnership with the Joker has not only been romanticized in ‘Suicide Squad’, but it lost a lot of the depth it had in the comics and even in the Batman animated series. With the astonishing success of movies like Wonder Woman and Black Panther, it is clear that audiences are starved for empowering messages, especially when targeted to historically oppressed demographics. But the ‘Birds of Prey’ movie seems to be moving in the right direction. The recently released lengthy title has earned the approval of Harley co-creator Paul Dini, and makes us wonder as to the possibility of a much more nuance analysis of toxicity in relationships. Most importantly, the all-female team working behind this movie gives hope for an updated view of this character, and really gives meaning to the word emancipated in the title, with director Cathy Yan and writer Christina Hodson.

The new ‘Birds of Prey’ movie not only has a chance to revive ailing DC, but also has the opportunity to fill a hole in the current super-hero scene. With Marvel having a strong hold on typically virtuous superheroes, DC has the chance to make a mark by establishing twisted characters and powerful storylines.

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AUTHOR: Elisabetta Pulcini
Film Editor 19/20 and Law (LLB) graduate. An Italian passionate about journalism and the law: always up for a debate. @ElisabettaPul

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