Ever since her inception, Harley Quinn has been tied to a man, at some point or another. In her debut in Batman: The Animated Series, she was introduced as the Joker’s henchman and lover, and despite the character’s wild popularity, she’s never really been able to escape that label.
But in Birds of Prey, Margot Robbie‘s Harley Quinn finally gets to step out from under the shadow of her “Mistah J.” Newly single and ready to mingle, Harley doesn’t attach herself to a new man, but finds a group of similarly empowered crime-fighting women to build herself a girl gang. And although Harley takes the spotlight in Birds of Prey — which is clear in the subtitle itself, And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn — that girl gang is the core of the the upcoming Warner Bros. comic book movie.
Birds of Prey was initially pitched to Warner Bros. as “Harley Quinn’s R-rated girl gang film,” and Margot Robbie is sticking by that promise. In Birds of Prey, Harley Quinn finds herself assembling a motley crew that includes Black Canary (Jurnee Smollett-Bell), the Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), and Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez) to save Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco).
And though Robbie is the undeniable star of the picture, the members of the Birds of Prey have received as much spotlight in the trailers, marketing, and posters as Harley Quinn, which is intentional, Robbie told /Film’s Peter Sciretta during a set visit to Birds of Prey. The members are all essential parts of the team, Robbie explained:
Yeah, it’s an eclectic group, which I love – that everyone has a distinct and different personality, and is coming from a different angle, I suppose. You got Renee, whose set of morals… her moral compass points a very different way to Harley’s and Canary’s. Everyone’s kind of got their own rule of ethics that they abide by, and they kind of conflict with each other, which I think is always interesting in an ensemble.
So, how did the team get assembled? Robbie says that it all started with Huntress, played by Winstead. The markswoman is a longtime staple of the Batman comics, and one of the core original members of the Birds of Prey, a team that until now has never included Harley Quinn. But reading about Huntress in the comics is what started to solidify Robbie’s vision of Birds of Prey, she explained:
It really started with Huntress. I just loved Huntress, and with my initial pitch on the story, I said I wanted to keep it quite contained, get no bigger, and no world ending stakes. Like the stakes were as big as perhaps mafia level or gang level. That’s when I started reading a lot of Huntress comics, obviously coming from a mafia family, and found her story. Plus, I always gravitate… well, not always, but I do often gravitate towards a revenge story because it is so straight forward, but you are so clearly motivated. So I find myself getting on board with that mindset quite quickly.
And then after Huntress it kind of fleshed out from there – which other members kind of counterbalance her revenge story, and Harley’s version of what’s right and wrong. You kinda needed a more moral character like Renee Montoya – we needed a cop in there. Canary obviously is so crucial to the Birds of Prey, we really wanted to introduce her as well. And then Cas, Christina, the writer, and I actually spoke about a lot of our favorite films, and wanted to pay homage to a few things, but, Leon: The Professional was one of them, and we just loved that relationship – the, mentor and mentee, a very unexpected friendship there. We kind of found ourselves gravitating towards that as well.
But who is Leon in this situation? “I am,” Robbie responded. Naturally.
Birds of Prey is directed by Cathy Yan and written by Christina Hodson. The film flies into theaters on February 7, 2020.
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