If you enjoy everything superheroes, but have been hesitant to see Birds of Prey due to its marketing from actors, I implore you to see it. As a film Birds of Prey is nothing like what Margot Robbie or Ewan McGreggor led us to believe.
Prior to launch of the movie, I had zero interest due to the interviews and trailer. As a film, Huntress looks nothing like her source material, as does Black Canary or Harley or Cassandra Cain. The movie chooses to go the route of Suicide Squad and create an artistic version of each character and stylize the world, but instead we’re given a clusterfuck of random bright colors and a disco fever looking Black Canary, along with a Huntress that looks like she has purple trash bags as a top and a Cassandra Cain who only shares the name with Orphan.
The misuse of characterizations for the sake of bringing a new style and flair to the film was the biggest flaw with the overall movie. Seeing Cassandra Cain not being a badass member of the Bat Family and instead some random pick pocket that could’ve had a random name and not impact the story was more fitting. The decision to throw in one of the best members of the bat family as a street thief was a strong negative for this film.
Another flaw with the characterizations was having Black Canary race changed, give her the wrong color scheme for an outfit and having her barely use her powers. While the actress playing Canary did a great job and was one of my favorites during the fight choreography, they still miscast the character and did minimal to make her like the source material, until the ending. This was something they did with Huntress as well.
Compared to the comic version, Huntress is played off more for being the butt of multiple jokes. We see her get called “the crossbow killer” by everyone but her. We also see her practicing her phrases in a mirror and creating a more comedic element that way. Instead, the series uses Dinah Lance as the straight man instead of Huntress. This results in a depiction that strays somewhat from the source material.
As a film none of the characters were as close to their source material as I would’ve liked, but that didn’t break the film nor did it coincide with what the actors were telling us.
During interviews, Ewan McGregor said that the film focused on misogyny but he’s not right. The film might have every man as the villain to an extent, but it’s not the focus of the story, instead Harley Quinn narrates the movie like an origin story for The Birds of Prey. We see each member team up for the final fight and by the end, they all have outfits similar to their source material, while Harley Quinn moves onto bigger and better things.
Other than an origin story, this movie also focuses heavily on the action. There’s a lot of standout fight choreography from the team behind John Wick. This results in some of the most fun action in a superhero film that I’ve ever seen. Seeing Harley fight the inmates with some slow-mo and wrestling moves was very well done. Another stand-out fight sequence was watching Huntress in the amusement park as she’s fighting multiple gang members. These were my favorite parts of this movie.
While characterizations weren’t loyal to the source material, with a lack of Oracle, this movie does deliver a solid popcorn flick, despite what Margot Robbie and Ewan McGregor had said during the press junket. Robbie mentioned less male gaze and Ewan mentioned strong themes of misogyny, but as a guy, none of those themes were strong or took away from the film. The marketing was the worst offender because it made me not want to see the film. Watching mischaracterizations and being told that the film is meant to educate me doesn’t sound fun. Describing it as such makes me think that the film will be boring rather than mindless fun. I watch superhero movies to see the storylines I love and characters represented that I love, but the marketing made me think that I’d see none of that in this film.
As a film, this was just like the recent Charlie’s Angels. We’re told that men have no interest in the film and that’s why it performs bad, or that the film is to show strong women and men don’t like that, which is all untrue. All I care for in female led films is that they are strong badasses like Lara Croft, Underworld’s Selene, Resident Evil, Wonder Woman, etc. we’ve had so many of these characters before who manage to balance beauty and strength and overcome adversity and that’s always fun, but being told that I’m the problem or I’m going to be educated in my escapist medium; I don’t want that. This film is nothing like they told us and is actually a fun popcorn flick, despite what you’re told, I’d see his again.