5 Things We Learned From The Birds of Prey Trailer

The Joker is out of the picture, Harley's got a sidekick, and everything is just as colorful as we expected, but fans of the comics may be disappointed.

by | October 1, 2019 | Comments

Birds of Prey (And The Fantabulous Emancipation Of One Harley Quinn) has been something of a question mark since filming first began. Would it continue ideas from 2017’s Suicide Squad? Would it be the quiet reboot of DC’s film universe that began in Wonder Woman? And, perhaps the most important question to fans of the Birds of Prey comic, would Harley take Barbara Gordon’s place as the founder of the team?

Many of these questions are answered in the first proper trailer for the upcoming film, in which Harley (Margot Robbie) returns to Gotham City and finds a group of women also in search of a new direction. And since Robbie used Harley to get the Birds of Prey film out of development hell, the trailer is definitely more skewed toward her character. Nevertheless, we may have picked up a few things about the other Birds of Prey. Let’s take a look at what we uncovered from the trailer.

Harley and Mistah J Are Kaput

Warner Bros. Pictures
(Photo by Warner Bros. Pictures)

While we’ve always known the film would focus on the end of their relationship, the trailer seems to confirm the split will take place off screen. It makes a certain amount of sense, as Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker is about to supplant Jared Leto’s take on the clown in moviegoers’ memories. At one time, their break-up was planned to span the Suicide Squad sequel, a Harley and Joker film, and separate films of their own. Bird of Prey moves all of that to a nice, nebulous past. Which, honestly, is for the best.

For readers of DC’s main comics universe, the pair have not been together for a good long time. But as the pop culture perception of these characters is always a reboot or two behind, a movie entirely about Harley discovering she can stand on her own is a genuinely compelling idea, even if it is taking place inside a Birds of Prey film. It also echoes the character’s ascent from Joker’s gun moll on Batman: The Animated Series to a strong presence in her own right with a long-standing comic book series and a dedicated legion of fans.

Hopefully, those fans will want to see the story of Harley’s emancipation told this way.

Black Mask Wants To Possess Harley

Warner Bros. Pictures
(Photo by Warner Bros. Pictures)

But as the break-up is clearly still fresh, Harley will be going through the stages of grief as the film begins. Her explanation to Black Canary (Jurnee Smollett-Bell) of what it means to be a harlequin reflects a sense of loss – even if Harley is better off without the Joker – suggesting she may want to find some sort of salve or rebound. Enter Roman Sionis (Ewan McGregor), a Gotham City mobster also known as Black Mask.

From the trailer, it is clear he becomes fascinated with her right quick. Whether that’s because she’s already inadvertently foiled one of his schemes or because he spots her in that nightclub with Canary remains to be scene. Harley’s interest in Sionis also remains to be seen, but we imagine if it happens at all, it will be short lived and it will irk Sionis’s vanity.

It makes him a rather well-suited adversary for Harley. A would-be claimant to Harley’s heart is, in a screwed up way, a claimant to Joker’s place in the Gotham City underworld. And for her part, Harley would have no interest in being property in this twisted (even for her standards) game of Catan. The trailer even features her declaring that she’s the one the city should fear. But it’s easy to see Sionis not taking no for an answer and escalating things to a street war in Gotham.

What that means for the other Birds – as they are announced as targets by the trailer’s end – will no doubt become the focus of another trailer.

The Film Maintains The Brighter Suicide Squad Aesthetic

Warner Bros. Pictures
(Photo by Warner Bros. Pictures)

Earlier photos and posters – and that costume test video from last year – suggested the film would continue many of the visual elements of Suicide Squad’s more striking color palette. But the trailer declares, rather boldly, that the more extreme (and Harley-inspired) tones will form the core look in Birds of Prey. And, frankly, it looks fantastic.

The bursts of color in Suicide Squad were centered around Harley anyway, so the neon bright purples and intense golds totally have a place in her solo adventure. At the same time, it makes Gotham City look totally different as theme parks, night clubs, and even the Gotham City Police precinct glimpsed in trailer live in that bolder, brighter world. Additionally, we couldn’t help but notice several shots in the trailer were filmed in and around Los Angeles. Other than a handful of brief shots in The Dark Knight Rises, LA has not properly played Gotham City since the 1960s, and its immediately identifiable sprawl makes for a markedly different Gotham, one that coalesces with Harley’s poppier look quite nicely. It may not square with Gotham’s traditional East Coast vibe, but it reflects her new outlook.

We also imagine that aesthetic will be quite a contrast for characters like Sionis and the Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) – characters known for being a little more monochrome. You can just about see Sionis’s aesthetic in the white suit glimpsed during the shots where he has Harley and some of the other Birds strung up. Huntress, for her part, is the only person dressed predominately in black throughout the trailer.

Harley Has A Sidekick (After A Fashion)

Warner Bros. Pictures
(Photo by Warner Bros. Pictures)

Okay, Huntress isn’t the only person in dark clothes. At various points in the trailer – most notably at the end – Harley appears to have a sidekick. The character is Cassandra Cain, an established DC Comics entity with storied ties to the Batman Family – she’s a Batgirl.

Introduced during the 1999 “No Man’s Land” storyline, the character was the mute daughter of one of Batman’s mentors. After Huntress took over and subsequently gave up the Batgirl identity (for reasons too long to discuss here), Cassandra took it for herself, impressing every member of Batman’s team along the way. She eventually found her voice and continued to be Batgirl for a few years before handing the persona off to fan favorite Stephanie Brown. But that’s a story for another day.

In the context of Birds of Prey, Cassandra (Ella Jay Basco) will seemingly serve as a sidekick to Harley, which sort of honors her past in the comics. But we also imagine the sidekick thing will not last long, as Cassandra finds her own identity among these would-be heroes, even if it is tempting to say concepts like heroes and villains may be too simplistic for Birds of Prey. Cassandra’s history in the comics supports the possibility Harley’s inadvertent tutelage may lead Cassandra in a new direction.

At the same time, it is important a Batgirl be part of the Birds of Prey film in some way because, after all, it was originally a Batgirl idea.

The Birds of Prey Is Harley’s Idea

Warner Bros. Pictures
(Photo by Warner Bros. Pictures)

About half-way through the trailer, Harley announces the only way to defeat Sionis is for her, Cassandra, Black Canary, Huntress, and GCPD Detective Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez) to team up. This may end up being the biggest point of contention for fans of the Birds of Prey comic, as the person who originally suggested the team-up to these characters was Barbara Gordon, the original Batgirl.

In DC Comics continuity at the time, Barbara never recovered the use of her legs after being shot by the Joker in The Killing Joke. She retired as Batgirl, but soon found a new identity as the information broker known as Oracle. With her real identity known only to Batman, she eventually formed an informal strike team comprised of Huntress and Black Canary. As the group became more solidified – and the three shared their secret identities – other females heroes like Lady Blackhawk and Dove began working with the group.

But as Batgirl does not yet exist – in any form – in the DC film universe, she cannot serve as the unifying spark for the Birds of Prey. Harley replaces her here, and while it works within the context of the film, some fans may be left wondering where Barbara is and what she is doing.

And since Birds of Prey screenwriter Christina Hodson is also developing a Batgirl film for Warner Bros, it is possible Birds of Prey will tease her existence in some way.

Also, while we’re talking about these characters and the comic book links, we couldn’t help but notice the first shot of Montoya featured her walking out of a squad room with what appeared to be a “last day” box of personal effects (or it could just be full of evidence). A reboot or two ago, the character infamously quit the force in disgust and began a journey which saw her becoming a vigilante known as The Question. Will the film Montoya also find herself behind a mask? As it happens, she is wearing The Question’s colors throughout the trailer.

Hopefully, the next trailer will tell us more about the other Birds of Prey.

Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) opens on February 7, 2020.

Like this? Subscribe to our newsletter and get more features, news, and guides in your inbox every week.

Adjusted Score: 96.985%
Critics Consensus: With a fresh perspective, some new friends, and loads of fast-paced action, Birds of Prey captures the colorfully anarchic spirit of Margot Robbie's Harley Quinn.
Synopsis: You ever hear the one about the cop, the songbird, the psycho and the mafia princess? "Birds of Prey (And... [More]
Directed By: Cathy Yan

Tag Cloud

what to watch National Geographic Opinion Amazon VH1 Creative Arts Emmys Watching Series Western dark anime Year in Review free movies diversity festivals south america green book blockbuster Teen Musical Rocketman Election Winter TV Television Critics Association BBC America The CW 2019 Travel Channel Video Games based on movie TV renewals period drama Comics on TV Comedy transformers latino Fall TV 2018 Dark Horse Comics concert documentaries cooking A&E BAFTA CBS All Access Universal Calendar Red Carpet Quiz criterion TCA 2017 ABC Family animated Lionsgate DirecTV TCA Lifetime Song of Ice and Fire Tomatazos WGN disaster revenge Binge Guide science fiction Podcast Rocky RT21 LGBT political drama Martial Arts OWN child's play Kids & Family Pride Month Disney+ Disney Plus cats unscripted TV Netflix Warner Bros. Disney Plus aliens Schedule Marvel Television AMC nature book Mindy Kaling travel 2015 TruTV Amazon Prime The Arrangement Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt First Look Disney award winner strong female leads 21st Century Fox satire 20th Century Fox franchise game show streaming christmas movies Paramount Network natural history PlayStation vampires directors indie Reality Polls and Games scary movies elevated horror Cosplay all-time Music X-Men police drama Hallmark Christmas movies TCA Winter 2020 Interview Endgame Nickelodeon television NYCC HBO Go Amazon Prime Video zero dark thirty independent Mystery technology reviews Crunchyroll adventure Anna Paquin CNN werewolf Superheroe Avengers Brie Larson joker DC Universe docudrama critics batman Hulu Ovation facebook medical drama emmy awards YouTube TNT El Rey series hist Discovery Channel Starz jamie lee curtis sequel screen actors guild Ghostbusters Animation comiccon ITV comedies Peacock binge ESPN HBO Max war Reality Competition Epix Rom-Com GoT cartoon FXX Sundance TV Emmy Nominations Countdown Apple TV+ Esquire Premiere Dates Pet Sematary Mary Tyler Moore golden globes GIFs historical drama Mary poppins E3 space Thanksgiving Adult Swim movies twilight 2017 dc BET VICE Comic Book Pirates 71st Emmy Awards spider-man crime drama IFC USA Network San Diego Comic-Con Food Network singing competition Marvel Studios documentary Film Fox News CBS Disney streaming service asian-american thriller PBS Fantasy foreign boxoffice See It Skip It IFC Films FX LGBTQ DGA a nightmare on elm street Holidays psychological thriller Netflix Christmas movies dogs discovery Grammys teaser New York Comic Con Shondaland serial killer TCM PaleyFest MTV robots true crime TLC psycho Masterpiece E! TIFF WarnerMedia die hard Logo Mary Poppins Returns Stephen King Lucasfilm Set visit USA Sony Pictures zombies First Reviews Trophy Talk Emmys Ellie Kemper Spike TV Land History indiana jones Superheroes Character Guide 2016 Baby Yoda spain movie news APB parents dramedy video talk show Acorn TV FOX MSNBC YouTube Red Best and Worst GLAAD Chernobyl biography Academy Awards Trivia Turner Classic Movies Apple TV Plus crossover casting Oscars name the review cancelled TV shows Musicals quibi cops Television Academy Heroines reboot Black History Month Captain marvel stand-up comedy spanish language Christmas BBC One Showtime Marathons Writers Guild of America hispanic versus rotten movies we love tv talk game of thrones RT History slashers renewed TV shows halloween best mutant BBC The Walking Dead Women's History Month mission: impossible 2020 spy thriller Sneak Peek Trailer cancelled FX on Hulu kids screenings Toys The Purge Infographic Paramount universal monsters Awards Tour crime Cartoon Network Turner romantic comedy Walt Disney Pictures The Witch Hear Us Out Comedy Central Photos adaptation ABC TBS Shudder 007 CMT Freeform Spring TV President Apple cars crime thriller CW Seed mockumentary Film Festival cinemax SXSW YA Rock comic harry potter Elton John DC Comics HBO Classic Film supernatural Tarantino politics Holiday films Super Bowl Mudbound VOD Bravo Lifetime Christmas movies doctor who Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Arrowverse Winners Crackle canceled 24 frames Pop TV anthology dceu Awards miniseries canceled TV shows finale Pixar Box Office Biopics children's TV social media Certified Fresh justice league Funimation cults 4/20 SDCC Valentine's Day richard e. Grant A24 Spectrum Originals DC streaming service Columbia Pictures cancelled television Vudu Britbox Tubi Sundance Sci-Fi ratings Drama zombie Cannes MCU dragons cancelled TV series Tumblr Black Mirror Disney Channel comics Star Wars composers OneApp Nominations Family Sundance Now sag awards blaxploitation Pop ghosts nbcuniversal Extras spinoff Action Country BET Awards theme song Syfy Summer video on demand sitcom chucky witnail 45 American Society of Cinematographers Amazon Studios YouTube Premium toy story Star Trek breaking bad SundanceTV Horror sports TCA Awards Nat Geo stoner romance NBC Marvel Hallmark