The Birds of Prey have made a couple of appearances like in the cartoon Batman: Brave and the Bold. In the episode “The Mask of Matches Malone,” Black Canary, Huntress, and Catwoman team up to save Batman from Matches Malone. The trio fight bad guys and sing “The Birds of Prey.” In the lyrics, they assert that while male heroes can win the day, the Birds of Prey do it better.
The original title of the movie was Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn), but it has been renamed as Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey. According to DC Films, people thought it was a random movie, since it didn’t have Harley Quinn in the name previously, so the company renamed it with hopes of popularizing it.
Now, Harley Quinn has always been a well-known supervillain, especially because of her infatuation and relationship with the Joker. She already got some screentime as one of the leads in the movie Suicide Squad, which focused on a group of imprisioned supervillains collaborating to save the world against an ancient witch.
Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey begins with Harley and the Joker breaking up, and her decision to be an independent villain, at least until she updates her relationship status and finds herself in hot water with everyone who hates her in Gotham, especially Roman Sionis (A.K.A. Black Mask), because she’s no longer protected by Joker.
Through a stroke of good luck, Harley ends up slapping together a sort of team that’s built up of Black Canary, Huntress, and Renee Montoyez, because Black Mask is trying to kill all of them. Plus they have to watch over the preteen pickpocket, Casssandra Cain, who can’t fight and is always getting captured by their enemies.
This movie was supposed to focus on the Birds of Prey and recreate the heroine’s vigilante origin. Instead DC decided to mash together a movie about Harley Quinn and the Birds of Prey. This makes a mess of giving all the five important characters screen time when the camera mainly focuses on Harley.
The movie probably would’ve made more money at the box office if it didn’t have Cassandra Cain, because her character is neither connected with Quinn or the Birds of Prey. If she wasn’t in it, there might’ve been more time for the other characters, instead we get Harley’s “motherly” side, which no one asked for. Maybe they could’ve used Cain if they made her an adult, like how she is in the comics, but they chose to have a little twelve-year-old run around getting in the way.
If the producers had Harley run rampant around Gotham, making Renee Montoya, Black Canary, and Huntress try to either help her or take her down, then there’d be a reason for Harley to be in the Birds of Prey movie and for the Birds of Prey to appear in a movie surrounding Quinn.
There are few positives from this movie, like the interesting hobbies Harley has, which are referenced in the comics, or the fun and exciting fight scenes that prove Quinn’s legs are killer and they show off her acrobatic skills.
However, the flick tries to shoehorn all the backstories in and puts in all of the flashbacks, from five minutes ago to ten years ago, and it throws off the rhythm. It also includes some unneeded disturbing scenes, which are supposed to show off Gotham’s “dark side,” but it just makes everyone in the theater unsettled and disgusted. Like, we get it, Black Mask is a bad guy. There was already a scene that showed it, but another one that’s disturbing and borderline assault.
Now, the movie wasn’t the best, but it had the potential to be great. Instead, it flopped. It didn’t meet expectations, because this squad and Quinn should’ve had their own independent films. DC should stop trying to “save money” by throwing every comic book hero in one movie when they should slow down and try to let everyone in the spotlight instead of just Harley Quinn.