By: Corey Lack
So, I recently decided to give the Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) movie a shot and I have to say that it was such a disappointment. There was just so much wrong with the movie that it’s hard to find anything worthwhile to say about it. I’m sure there’s a feminist argument that can be made for the movie, but as a guy that went into this hoping for nothing more than to see some of his favorite comic book characters beat up some bad guys, I was left pretty underwhelmed.
First of all, I want to be clear that I am a fan of the comic books and I prefer that when characters are brought to either television or movies, they at least look enough like their source characters that they can be recognizable. That did not happen with any of the characters. I mean, Harley Quinn looks like a candy store exploded in her face and she’s the one that looks closest to her source character.
Next, there’s the writing. My god, the writing. First, let’s discuss the introduction of Cassandra Cain as a teenager street kid/pickpocket. The comic book version of this character was raised to be the greatest assassin in the world by her League of Assassins father and her mother, Lady Shiva, and is one of the greatest martial artists alive, having been deprived of both speech and love for most of her life. She later becomes one of those that temporarily take the name Batgirl. The only connection the movie version has with her is…she’s Asian and they have the same name. That’s about it. The movie version has so little to connect with the source character that they could have named the character literally anything else and it still would have made as much of an impact on the story.
Then, there’s the multiple storylines of all of the different female leads that are going on at the same time while Harley Quinn’s, who is the title character, takes a backseat. Each of them having the overarching theme that the men in their lives are only making it worse and they don’t want to deal with it or them anymore. They were all, including Harley’s, pretty cliché. Renee had a male boss that took credit for her work, Harley had an abusive ex, Dinah was trapped in a toxic relationship with the main villain, and Helena was hunting down the men who killed her parents. Each of these plotlines come together at the end and result in them just deciding not to be in these situations anymore. Sure, they kill the bad guy and save the kid and all that, but there was just so little impact from really anything that happens that they just seem unfinished and rushed.
But let’s discuss Harley herself. Sure, her relationship with the Joker, even in the comics, was a bit of an on-and-off one, but they spent a good portion of it explaining and making it the forefront when they actually do nothing with it beyond drag out that Harley’s dumped her ex. They try to give her a wild and unpredictable personality with editing making lists and stylized nametags appear next to characters she’s introducing that reminded me of Deadpool, but it lacked all of the charm of the much better Deadpool and had none of the humor. Even what little charm and personality she was given in Suicide Squad was completely scratched out.
In short, the Birds of Prey tried to soar, but couldn’t even manage to take off.