Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn
Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey
starring Margot Robbie, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Ewan McGregor
written by Christina Hodson
directed by Cathy Yan
by Walter Chaw When I used to teach Hitchcock, I'd ask students what the term "bird" refers to in British colloquial slang. "Women," yes? So, immediately, Cathy Yan's Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn (hereafter Birds of Prey) carries with it an obvious secondary, didactic meaning, announcing itself as a piece about women who are predatory at most, not to be fucked with at least. I'm all-in. What kind of idiot wouldn't be? The time is right for a film about women assuming agency, flipping the script on predatory men, and making a DC comic-book property into something very much like an extended rape-revenge horror movie. I love rape-revenge horror movies. Ms. 45 is seminal. Ditto the original I Spit On Your Grave. I even love Neil Jordan's widely-derided The Brave One, which hung issues of assault and miscegenation on the framework of what is essentially a superhero origin story, years before it was stylish to do so. The time is right, too, for more female-led action films--what better than one starring a popular actress playing a popular antihero? Pity, then, that Birds of Prey is more Captain Marvel than Wonder Woman.