You don’t have to be a comic book nut or fan of superhero movies to enjoy Birds of Prey, or get something out of watching it.
This is especially true if you’re a woman.
In case you missed it, the story of the emancipation of Harley Quinn hit theaters this weekend in the form of the new flick Birds of Prey. This movie continues the story of Harley Quinn, who was really only known for being “the Joker’s girl” when we last saw her in Suicide Squad. In Birds of Prey, we see her take flight as her own person.
What is she “emancipated” from exactly? Well, if you watch the whole thing, there’s a lot of things that she’s leaving behind here, but we’ll get into that a little bit later.
Firstly, we’re told immediately that her and “Mister J” (The Joker) broke up “for real this time.” So, there’s no mystery there. She’s obviously upset about this, and like most of us when we hit a rough patch, she cuddles up to her demons (mainly alcoholic ones) and let’s them “loose.” She pisses a lot of people off with her antics at this time. She pissed them off before (if we’re being honest), but now that the Joker isn’t part of her life that “protection” of her (because the Joker is who he is in Gotham) has faded. She learns this quickly too. There’s a literal and figurative bounty on her head when news of the breakup spreads.
So, what’s a girl to do when the world she knew crumbles and everyone is out to get her? You become Harley freakin’ Quinn. That’s what you do.
As I mentioned, Harley is “emancipated” from a lot of things when her life changes after the breakup. She loses protection that men “gave” her by association. She loses a nice home they shared. She loses her sense of self. She loses her identity. She even loses her precious egg sandwich because those hunting her just can’t accept that breakfast comes first. And yet, it’s all fantabulous.
It’s only when she’s captured by one of the men hunting her that we realize that she’s beginning to see her own value. You see, in a twist of irony, when Harley moves out and gets her own place she buys a pet hyena and names him Bruce. Much like a hyena, Harley was a scavenger before sharpening her own survival skills. By the end of the movie, she’s tearing others to shreds and using her wit – like hyenas eventually do. So, as she’s captured, she escapes decapitation by exclaiming that she “has information” – and that’s where we see her get smart. Her captor chooses not to kill her because of this. We see her learning what “value” she has in her world, even if it’s all a façade. We see her using survival skills. There are a ton of animal related metaphors here.
By the way, if you saw Birds of Prey and you’re curious, Bruce the hyena was not a real hyena or even totally computer generated. USA Today explains, “[…] they didn’t want to rely on a fully computer-generated creature. The fix? Bruce was actually “two really lovely German shepherds,” Hodson says, then special effects took over.” How cool is that!?
What I learned from this section of the film is how beautiful is it when anyone, especially women, can sharpen their skills and mind and use it to their advantage. We’re more than just a “pretty face,” which men regularly reduce Harley to throughout the film.
This film in not your mother’s The First Wives Club. It’s not the typical “woman gets divorced, woman finds self, woman gets back at ex” story. It’s a feminine comedy and action-packed drama that makes us think.
Yes, Harley Quinn does (unintentionally) create an amazing girl gang for herself in Birds of Prey, but that’s not the whole focus (or substance) of the movie. Hell, she ditches those bitches in the end – and they all laugh about it. Why? Because they know they don’t “need” each other, but they will have each other’s backs when necessary. They are all honest about their intentions to handle things on their own.
Scenes like that show us that we as women don’t “need” to band together, but things get pretty awesome when we do.
This movie does a wonderful job of reminding us that it’s okay to be individuals too. We can all get a little vindictive at times. We can also be pretty nurturing too. This movie covers the whole spectrum of those thoughts, actions, and emotions associated with that transition in female relationships. In fact, in all relationships for that matter.
Another bonus: Harley Quinn nurtures younger character Cassandra Cain who has a harsh family life at home. This moment in Birds of Prey reminds us that as women (and humans, for that matter) it is so important to “pay it forward” and comfort others in need. Even the “crazy” Harley Quinn could make time to do it.
That’s the magic of Birds of Prey. Those reminders, to me, are all reasons why women especially should see this movie. Find that magic in yourself, and they should be scared of you too.
Oh, and Margot Robbie (who plays Harley Quinn) produced Birds of Prey too.
Have you seen it yet?