The fortunes of fantastic female forces in ‘Birds of Prey’

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The "Birds of Prey" leads join forces for a final brawl.

Carlos Verduzco, Staff Writer

 

The newest installment by DC Comics: “Birds of Prey” is a comedic delight filled with ironic innuendos and girl power magic. The film follows Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn whom we were introduced to in the film’s prequel: “Suicide Squad.” The narrative unfolds with Quinn (at the center of the film) having broken up with her boyfriend the Joker from the squad. A summary of the pair’s relationship unfolds on the screen while Quinn recounts a phantasmagorical viewpoint of how events truly played out, which is indicative of Harley Quinn’s character. Despite the contrasts between the facts and the fantasy, one thing is for certain: Harley Quinn will not be going back to the Joker this time.

Quinn gets herself into plenty of trouble throughout the film, except this time she is without the insurance from her ex-boyfriend. With her newly-discovered independence, Quinn is quick to assure herself that she is capable of handling anyone or anything that gets in her way. 

Ewan McGregor plays Roman “Black Mask” Sionis, a club-owner, and a master maniac as the film’s main villain. Through his mania, he becomes the gateway for surrounding characters to connect with Quinn in the film’s following scenes. The Birds of Prey girl gang: Black Canary (Jurnee Smollett-Bell), Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco), the Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), and Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez). Black Canary is a singer at Sionis’ club who goes on to be his driver against her will, Cassandra Cain is a child who somehow ends up in Gotham’s world of crime via neglect from her foster parents, the Huntress is the sole-survivor and heir to a deceased mafia family whose impressive fortune was left inside a lost diamond that the film ultimately surrounds, and Renee Montoya is a good cop with an unacknowledged talent who is put on temporary suspension in the film. The characterizations in these key players are not only diverse in their unique stories but also in the treatments that they face from the world around them. 

The narrative of the film delves into societal epidemics that include subliminal themes of misogyny, toxic masculinity, and other adjacent issues. Black Canary’s role under Black Mask is evidently a classic case of fear-instilled labor, Montoya’s character goes unrecognized as her male counterparts take the credit for her own achievements, the Huntress seeks vengeance for her family, Harley Quinn reclaims her identity and succeeds in doing so.

Black Mask’s demeanor, attitude, and anger especially shine through in a scene where he hears someone laughing across the room and receives it as a threat to his personhood or better yet, his manhood. Though the cackle had nothing to do with his account, the power that he has to instill fear in others causes an abundance of people to do as they are told by him in another classic truth of male privilege and their abuse of power.

Birds of Prey is not trashy in its showcasing of female relationships and is, in fact, successful in demonstrating that at times there is adversity within them. The film is successful in showcasing a feel-good storyline that leaves the watcher feeling satisfied in the end. By neatly dipping its toe into societal issues, the film is most compelling in its efforts to include ideas that are true of a female-ensemble. The movie is captivating in its effort to make things interesting even for those who do not fully understand the DC universe.