About two weeks ago, Warner Brothers released Birds of Prey, the first standalone DC fans get out of Harley Quinn—who by most, is known as Joker’s partner in crime. After the demand from fans following Suicide Squad, Quinn was able to strike out on her own. Yet, this emancipation from the Joker came with an outstanding cast of other female leads ready to break out on their own.
The majority of the main cast in Birds of Prey are women of color: Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez), Black Canary (Jurnee Smollett-Bell), and Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco). Along with having such a diverse cast, even the director, Cathy Yan, adds to this mix.
With having a woman of color behind the scenes, the story goes on to reflect this. It’s not even just racially diverse but also diverse in the sexuality of the characters.
Quinn’s bisexuality—as in the comics—is hinted at in one scene where she thinks back on past lovers and a quick second on the slot machine, a woman flashes. Montoya is seen with her ex-girlfriend, who while not a police officer, also works for the city as district attorney. Black Mask (Ewan McGregor), the villain, as well as his henchman Victor Zsasz (Chris Messina), are also queer coded.
The storyline follows Quinn after her recent breakup with the Joker. Without Gotham’s crime boss to protect her, a big red target is now on her back. The viewer gets to watch as Quinn tries to be her own woman with the Joker no longer by her side.
Quinn’s newfound independence causes trouble though when she gets on the wrong side of Black Mask who is now letting her bargain for her life by giving her 24 hours to find a diamond. This is where Montoya and Black Canary come into play.
Cain is a young pick-pocket who took the diamond off Black Canary who is no longer just a singer at Black Mask’s club, but his driver. With Cain swallowing the diamond, every bad guy in Gotham is now after the young protégée that Quinn soon wants to take under her wing.
This whacky series of events lead to a fun-filled and action-packed film that later brings all our heroines—or villainess—together as one team to save themselves and protect young Cain. With one epic fight scene in a carnival funhouse—which was clearly directed by a woman when Quinn tosses a hair tie to Black Canary in the midst of the fight.
Despite the film being diverse in more ways than one and feeling organic with its relationships concerning women, it still tanked in the box office opening weekend making around $20 million less than expected.
Most speculate that men did not want to watch a movie with a female protagonist that was not sexualized. Others have argued that it just simply wasn’t advertised the way it should have been.
However; despite a rocky opening weekend, according to Forbes the film has made $83.6 million in the United States and $142.9 worldwide. With the comeback Birds of Prey has made, this can hopefully encourage a more diverse and inclusive set of superhero films with women behind as well as in front of the camera.