Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn: Some Insights

I saw the movie Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn the first day it hit theatres in Vancouver. I know this movie sounds like just another comic-book superhero flick, but this one has elements I would like to comment on–possible spoiler alert for those who haven’t seen it.

The movie focuses on Harley Quinn, her breakup with The Joker, and the aftermath; from where I sat, the women who would form The Birds of Prey were merely props in Harley’s story, an afterthought, while Harley did most of the work, especially against Black Mask. I read in one magazine interview with star Margot Robbie (who portrays Harley Quinn) that she wanted to create a girl gang in this movie. Granted, in the comics, Harley only occasionally worked with the Birds of Prey; in the movie, the four women work together only once, and–again–Harley does most of the work. Renee Montoya and Black Canary, individually, work well alone, and Rebecca Bertinelli/The Huntress makes the occasional appearance on her own before all of the title characters are trapped together, and even helps Harley in a chase scene. But there’s no mention of the Birds of Prey until near the end of the film.

For those of you who haven’t seen the movie but have read the Birds of Prey comic books, there is a change: Jurnee Smollett-Bell portrays Black Canary. In the comics, Black Canary is a white blond, but in this movie, she’s, well, black. So the creators of Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn changed the race of at least one of the characters, and perhaps that’s a good thing–and it’s appropriate that Black Canary is that character, and her new race is black.

It’s nice to see the ladies of the superhero comics (besides Wonder Woman) are getting a fair shake at the box office–and as heroes of their own stories. I enjoyed Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn, though, as a storyteller myself, I would at least tweak some things about the storyline. (But, then again, there are things I’d change and tweak about every story I read and see.)

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