Many details of Birds of Prey have remained mostly under wraps, but the first official trailer has enough Harley Quinn platitudes that will make you pause and ask yourself, “Wait a minute, is the Harley Quinn Suicide Squad spinoff possibly a…feminist reckoning?”
The trailer begins with Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn drunkenly pontificating that “a harlequin’s role is to serve; it’s nothing without a master.” After a breakup from The Joker, she cobbles together a group of misanthropic supers looking for revenge and suddenly, it becomes very clear why the Suicide Squad spinoff’s full title is actually Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn.
The trailer continues with a callback to Marilyn Monroe‘s “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” performance from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (a scene which was also notably revised in Madonna‘s music video for “Material Girl” in 1985 and again by Nicole Kidman in 2001 for Moulin Rouge!), a request made by Harley Quinn to order pizza and make cosmos with the rest of her girl gang (to which she is reminded of the need to focus on the task at hand), and of course a lesson on why you shouldn’t call women “chicks.” You really have to wonder what Laura Mulvey would say if she got her hands on this one.
The story for Birds of Prey comes from a screenplay by Christina Hodson (who also wrote the Transformers sequel-slash-spinoff Bumblebee, starring Hailee Steinfeld) and will be directed by Cathy Yan, the first Asian woman at the helm of a female-driven superhero film. While Batman is nowhere to be seen, Gotham City is left as a playground for the villains of the DC Extended Universe. Black Mask, a crime lord played by Ewan McGregor, attempts to kidnap and kill a girl named Cassandra Cain if she doesn’t return one of his diamonds, Harley Quinn brings in Black Canary, Huntress, and Renee Montoya to keep Cassandra safe. Joining Robbie and McGregor is a stacked cast consisting of Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Rosie Perez, Chris Messina, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, and Ali Wong.
It should be noted that Birds of Prey has nothing to do with Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker, which some critics have panned as a possibly misguided meditation on incels. (In fact, the New York Police Department has instructed theaters to have increased police coverage this weekend due to potential violent threats).
Additionally, Birds of Prey is the first installment in a group of three Harley Quinn focused films, and a spin-off of Suicide Squad, not a sequel. There are rumors that the two follow-up films to Birds of Prey will focus on the Gotham City Sirens, a crew of DC Comics villainesses that also includes Catwoman and Poison Ivy. The sequel to Suicide Squad has recently announced that Viola Davis, Joel Kinnaman, Jai Courtney, Idris Elba, John Cena, Taika Waititi, and Pete Davidson will star in addition to Robbie. The film is set to be released in 2021, about a year after Birds of Prey graces the silver screen.