Superhero movies lately have been extremely dark – it seems we can’t watch a new film without watching a beloved character die after going through heinous events. Sometimes it gets tiring, going to our local theater and knowing our hearts are about to get torn out.
Maybe that’s why DC’s newest “Birds of Prey” is taking over the box office.
The fun film stars Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) trying to get over her break-up with Joker only to end up in a whole heap of trouble with the villainous Roman Sionis aka Black Mask (Ewan McGregor).
However, Harley isn’t alone; the movie features a large cast of female leads with a bone to pick with the men in their lives who don’t treat them right – whether it be their bosses, boyfriends or figures from the past.
“Birds of Prey” is a funny, ridiculous movie with a lot of flair both in terms of fashion and cinematography. It is full of surprises as well, sure to keep you on the edge of your seat the entire time, waiting for more.
While this movie is certainly not the tear-jerker other superhero films are, don’t be fooled. The R-rated movie deals with some dark topics, including sexual assault and misogyny.
Of course, it couldn’t be a superhero movie without action – and it has plenty. The action scenes are not only exciting, but do a good job of demonstrating a character’s skill set.
The film in general excels at fleshing out Harley’s character in a way “Suicide Squad” did not. We see her for all she is: an acrobatic, psychiatrist, and, well, a pretty awful person. Of course, you still root for her the entire time.
You also root for the other characters – Black Canary (Jurnee Smollett-Bell), Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez) and Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco) – who struggle just as Harley does to overcome the limitations placed upon them by the men in their lives. In fact, it is obvious in this female-produced and directed movie that feminism is a large theme.
However, the strong push for this cohesive feminist theme ironically erases some of what made these comic book characters so powerful in the first place. The film’s renditions of these characters certainly do not match the original comic version and, while this is common for these kinds of movies, certain changes completely gloss over a female character’s own backstory simply to parallel Harley’s own.
The biggest example of this is Cassandra Cain – originally a lawful Batgirl with great fighting prowess. “Birds of Prey” transforms the crime-fighter into a thieving young teen.
The film has also received backlash for not including disabled superhero Oracle aka Barabara Gordon, an original member of the ensemble that was forced into a wheelchair after being shot by the Joker himself. A seemingly fitting character to include, and yet she makes no appearance.
These issues are not apparent to those unfamiliar with DC canon, but for those who are die-hard fans, these character choices may be disappointing.
Regardless of the divergence, “Birds of Prey” remains an explosively entertaining film that not only reminds us what makes superhero movies so special, but revolutionizes what these films should be as well.