Margot Robbie chewing the scenery as the amorous villain Harley Quinn was one of the best things about the 2016 DCEU movie, suicide squad— so much so that Warner Bros. and DC Films have developed a trilogy of films that focus on the character. Now we have a trailer for the first of these: Birds of Prey (and Harley Quinn’s Fantastic Emancipation)† And while it’s way too early to say anything about the film’s merits one way or the other, it looks like it could be a lot of R-rated Harley-centered fun.
Birds of prey is based on the long-running comic book series of the same name, originally centered on Barbara Gordon (daughter of James Gordon), aka Batgirl. Barbara reinvents herself as the Oracle after an encounter with the Joker paralyzes her from the waist down. Oracle teams up with Black Canary, a skilled martial artist with an ultrasonic superpower known as the “Canary Cry.” Several other characters have come and gone over the course of the series, most notably (for current purposes) a former Mafia princess turned vigilante named Huntress.
(Some spoilers for suicide squad below.)
Harley Quinn also occasionally appears in the comics as part of a team called The Secret Six (which also includes Deadshot), but the film version puts her completely in the center of attention. Screenwriter Christina Hodson wanted to reinvent the deranged psychiatrist, so in the film, Harley’s rocky, abusive relationship with the Joker has ended, leaving her with loose ends. She eventually joins forces with Black Canary (Jurnee Smollett-Bell), Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), and Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez)—a former police detective who follows the question in the comics—to find a young girl named Cassandra Cain. protecting from sadistic crime lord Black Mask. (In the comics, Cassandra is the third incarnation of Batgirl.)
The trailer opens with Harley confiding in drunken Black Canary in a bar. “Do you know what a harlequin is?” she scolds. “The role of a harlequin is to serve. It is nothing without a master.” We see her trim her blue-dyed ponytail and practice target practice with the image of the Joker—all part of the emancipation process evoked by the film’s subtitle. As Edith Piaf sings on the soundtrack, we also meet Huntress and a ruthless crime boss named Roman Sionis (Ewan McGregor), aka Black Mask.
It seems Black Mask hopes to become Harley’s new master (“You need me, Quinn), and she’s not interested. When Harley comes to the rescue of young Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco), she arouses his fury further. Black Canary, Huntress and Renee Montoya are also being chased by Black Mask, so they all team up to take down the crime boss once and for all, assuming they have a better chance of beating him as a group. and there’s also a deranged serial killer, Victor Zsasz (Chris Messina), who carves his own face to mark each of his murders.
As for where we’ll be seeing Harley Quinn next, she’s slated to appear in the upcoming movie Gotham City Sirens— meaning we might see her teaming up with Catwoman and Poison Ivy — and in an as-yet-untitled film that focuses on her relationship with the Joker. Robbie will also reprise the role in a “soft reboot” called The Suicide Squadcurrently slated for release in August 2021, featuring Guardians of the Universe director James Gunn at the helm.
Birds of prey opens in theaters on February 7, 2020.
Listing image by YouTube/Warner Bros.