Review: “Birds of Prey:” How Harley Quinn Reinvents Herself in the Best Way


Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

Sofia Mongillo

Long before DC’s popular movie “Suicide Squad” appeared on screens, the clown princess of crime known as Harley Quinn was born. Originally meant to simply be a one-episode character when she made her debut on “Batman: The Animated Series” in 1992, the infamous super villain is now admired and recognized by many. After making a return in 2016, the character earned a narrative of her own in director Cathy Yan’s film “Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey.”

Taking place in the fictional city of Gotham, viewers follow Harley in her unpredictable, emotional journey to find herself after a breakup with the psychopathic criminal mastermind who has supreme power over the city — the Joker. Sick and tired of being viewed as “Joker’s girl,” she starts on a mission to re-invent herself as her own independent person rather than the property of a man’s. Harley’s liberating attitude is one of the empowering elements that make up the film as she proves to others, but more importantly herself, that the power she held while at the side of Joker is still very much hers, with or without him. The powerful theme of girl power is present not only here but later on as well as she stands alongside four other females of varying races and ages who work together in the face of danger.

Aside from knocking down stereotypes surrounding women, the character of Harley is portrayed here as being quite relatable. Though she is hated by some and adored by others, she still is a person with emotions and feelings regardless of how deranged or complicated they may be. This aspect of her personality is essential to understanding and sympathizing with her which is nearly impossible to avoid after witnessing her story on screen. She may have been the sidekick of a sadistic villain, but the after-effects of heartbreak still apply to her. Through her messy breakup, audiences of all kinds are likely able to connect with her on some level as they watch her grieve the loss of her lover and cope in various ways, they way the everyday person does. It is brutally honest and shows the emotional and physical pain one can go through as a result of heartache no matter who they are.

Actress Margot Robbie, known for her roles in “The Wolf of Wall Street”, “Bombshell” and “Suicide Squad” among others, depicts Harley Quinn precisely in “Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey” in a strikingly accurate way. While she may seem like nothing more than a pretty face with a moody personality at first glance, it becomes clear as the plot drives on that there is much more to her and Robbie shows this passionately. After experiencing Harley’s story through Robbie’s performance, it seems unlikely that anyone else could capture the essence of Harley Quinn as well as she does. Her charismatic yet odd personality is hard to beat, and the actress takes it head-on.

Lively, fun scenes fill the screen with action packed adventure as Harley, the Huntress, Black Canary and Renee Montoya take on crime boss known as Black Mask all the while still managing to leave room for comical dialogue and emotional scenes. However, one element of the whimsical super villain’s film that didn’t reach its full potential was how the order of events were presented. In attempts to give background information, Harley’s voice is heard as a voiceover during the first half of the plot giving the details of her breakup. In actuality, this failed attempt very likely leaves the audience confused as they are taken back and forth between the past and present.

Overall, “Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey” does a spectacular job at portraying the deep character of Harley Quinn while sprinkling modern viewpoints throughout the narrative and leaving viewers feeling unstoppable.


Illustration by Ariel Landry