So after what seems like years of waiting and anticipation, we have finally gotten our first full trailer for the new Birds of Prey movie. Or, as I like to call it, Harley Quinn – starring Harley Quinn, with additional puns and jokes by Harley Quinn (also some other chicks because bird puns). Yes, it seems that some worries have come to light with the release of this recent trailer, particularly the worry that this film would basically evolve into another solo platform for budding starlet, Margot Robbie. After bagging a producer role and wedging herself into a script that I’m pretty sure was meant to have Barbara Gordon as the protagonist, Robbie also stole the primary narrative of the upcoming Suicide Squad sequel. And after dozens of gorgeous posters only showcasing Harley as the sole character, it has become clear that Robbie intends for this film to be all about her.
In the past we have seen this formula work with Robbie, even earning her an Oscar nom for her stellar performance in the biopic, I, Tonya. But with Harley, the same magic doesn’t seem to fly, because this is not material rarely known about, this is an iconic and beloved character that the actress is capitalising on. And the result just leaves you wondering what the hell the point of this film is.
The trailer centres entirely around Harley, who we learn has since broken up with the Joker, trying to affirm herself as a strong and independent woman. And admittedly, Robbie looks amazing in the role. The neon fashion, the new cutesy hair-do, even the pet hyena, all reek of Harley. And yet, they also call to attention the lifelessness of the other characters around her. In the trailer we get brief glimpses of Huntress and Black Canary, and both look as if they are going out to the shops than to do battle on the streets of Gotham.
One shot of Harley and you know who you’re looking at, the fashion may not be comics accurate but it screams everyones’ favourite acrobatic clown girl. The others – not so much. Huntress walks around looking like any stereotypical biker chick, and Canary doesn’t even don her iconic fishnet ensemble. Whereas in Suicide Squad, David Ayer reinvented the characters to have a more urban gangster flavour, in this film it seems Robbie has put the others in rags to make herself pop out. We even get to see our first glimpse at Cassandra Kane, who seems to have more in common with the fire kid from Deadpool 2 than she does with her iconic comic counterpart.
But through all this criticism, the film is strikingly beautiful from the trailer alone. Cathy Yan injects the film with a neon, bubble-gum glow and its gorgeous. Especially the brief glimpses of our core cast in the heart of some twisted fun house, which almost recalls a mature re-imagining of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. The action also looks strong, even though the strongest parts seem to come mainly from Harley. Again Robbie refuses to let anyone rob the spotlight from her and it sadly shows. I will honestly be surprised if the other actors actually steal any of her limelight, which I consider doubtful seeing as only Robbie and Ewan McGregor are the only true Hollywood elite in the whole film.
When watching this trailer, I also found myself questioning its place in the DCEU as a whole. After the praise of both Aquaman and Shazam, films notable for their lighter tones and cartoonish action, where does Birds of Prey fit? The film is definitely colourful and lively, but it is also brimming with gang crime and gory violence. It feels more like a Tarantino picture than it does another super-hero entry and I think it will throw another spanner into DC’s works. But maybe I’ll be proven wrong, we’ll have to see.