Birds of Prey: Feminist themes done right

Bre Scott, Staff Writer

Birds of Prey hit theaters on February 7, 2020, and is quickly becoming a fan favorite against all odds. The DC Comics movie, starring captivating Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn, takes place after Suicide Squad (2016) when eccentric Harley Quinn and the Joker break up. A new villain comes to bite as Harley attempts to navigate her new life without the Joker’s protection. Soon Harley is wrapped in another man’s control and takes on the role of mercenary to save her own life. Birds of Prey focuses on females in Gotham taking things into their own hands as Harley, Black Canary (Jurnee Smollett-Bell), Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), Detective Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez), and Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Bosco) are pitted against each other despite having similar end goals.

DC’s female-focused movie has received plenty of criticism despite having a 79% on Rotten Tomatoes and 60 on Metacritic; most of the “bad” reviews state that Birds of Prey was too crass, flashy, and had little substance. It is reasonable to think, however, that the poor reviews had more to do with an unnerving feeling that there could be a vulgar action movie featuring all female leads. Similar crime movies, as Birds of Prey is classified as a crime movie, have been greatly praised with male leads (take the humorous Deadpool, for example) despite their colorful natures. This is further proven when Metacritic shows an overwhelming 36 highly positive reviews from professional critics and 21 reviews teetering between the overall brilliance of the movie and its minor downfalls.

While the movie did leave out some clarifying information, I felt that the structure of the movie was not flashy or diverting. Since the movie was narrated by Harley Quinn herself, the sporadic nature and colorful scenery was obviously a reflection of Harleen Quinzel’s personality, the woman was dipped in acid after all.

Birds of Prey also did well in avoiding cliches and over the top “girl power” themes or lines that simply would not have fit in an action-packed villain movie. Instead, Director Cathy Yan allowed Birds of Prey to be the unfiltered movie it was meant to be, while subtly nodding to true feminism. The lead women each have their distinct personalities and motivations instead of being meshed into the same group based on their gender. Some, however, may not be ready for the steps Birds of Prey took with representation, thanks to producer Margot Robbie. The movie had three women of color play leading roles, along with three verified queer women in the overall movie (two with lead roles). Besides the confirmed LGBTQ+ characters, other characters were left with room for interpretation regarding their sexuality and relationships. For me at least, that calls for celebration.