Above and beyond its income, its symbolic value is indisputable, and diametrically opposed to that of Marvel. While Marvel offers fragmented sagas in dozens of films, each DC film is a lonely event in itself.
Without a doubt, this is the most attractive aspect of Cathy Yan’s film, a director who comes from independent cinema (with several short films and only one film behind her, ‘Dead Pigs‘) and who doesn’t need to inspect very thoroughly to detect that the unwritten rules of superheroic universes matter to her very little.
Birds of Prey’ is a mix that includes the verbiage of Guy Ritchie-style urban thrillers, the relationships between characters who drink from The CW‘s great DC series and vibrant action sequences that copy the latest wonder of hyper-choreographed ‘John Wick‘ style action movies.
But none of this is finally reflected on the screen with the balance or strength that the project deserves. The only thing that is certain is that the result is funny and charming enough to make it easy to excuse its shortcomings, which are not few and among which are a final third of the film somewhat disconnected and where some suffering is detected on the editing table.
Birds of Prey’ is therefore a derivative and unimportant film, but one that does not care too much to be so. Nothing in it makes more sense, but it doesn’t matter either, because what she does is right. For example, the action sequences, perfectly choreographed and edited (superior to those of most Marvel films and their excessive CGI, to say the least), where the slow motion is not a maneuver to hide the film’s shortcomings, but a further expressive resource, which gives rise to scenes as glorious as the entrance to the police station or the fights that follow. Again, with nothing that we haven’t already seen, but very well executed and without disturbance.
‘Birds of Prey’: Harley Quinn’s Fantabulous Rupture
Although many people will see ‘Birds of Prey’ as a commercial operation to attract fifty percent of the public with some pop feminism and an openly trampling discourse of masculinities as in ‘Charlie’s Angels‘, where all the guys are idiots or villains; although in this film something very funny happens, especially with the betrayal of a very specific character, and although subtlety is not the strong point of this film, it does achieve a brief vindication of its main character.
Birds of Prey’ is a call for femininity that goes openly against men, as expressed by its powerful soundtrack, exclusively female and full of estrogenic slogans completely out of character, and which are expressed with full force in its central theme ‘Boss Bitch‘ by Doja Cat.
This is then a story of female self-assertion where the male shoulders in which to cry simply have no place, and that makes ‘Birds of Prey’ an interesting alternative to so much history of redemption and inner search: the ordinary as a vital key to the plot is a more serious issue than it seems, and although the film has many narrative ups and downs, it gives itself completely to that issue without excuses.
That’s why characters like Renee Montoya by Rosie Perez are injected with such a natural and refreshing dignity, or the incredibly funny character of The Huntress Mary Elizabeth Winstead, who regrets not making her appearance longer in the film, effortlessly puts ‘Batman with a Baritone Voice’ to the test.
However, it should be noted that of course, not everything is right in ‘Birds of Prey’. There are hasty script decisions, especially at the climax, with the fortuitous powers of Black Canary and a rather confusing script pace, which does not take much advantage of the ‘Rated R‘, beyond the swear words that are said throughout the film, which makes it heavy at times. But otherwise, DC has done it again and once more has been victorious in its competition against Marvel.
Future plans for DC
It is difficult to predict where ‘Birds of Prey’ will lead if it becomes a success. It is easier to see where it comes from: the successes of ‘Aquaman‘ and ‘Shazam‘ have definitely impacted the DC Universe: lighter tone films that are practically isolated from each other, that are aware of belonging to a larger universe but that do not need to be referenced. Nor should we forget the incredible success of ‘Joker‘, the most successful R film in history, which is absolutely different in tone to this one, but which shows that the rating for adults is not remotely poisonous for the box office.
DC’s films have a much more important treasure right now and that is their individuality, unlike films from a shared universe which, while dragging people into cinemas almost automatically, become complex to follow in their plot for this very reason. Disney is clear about this in a very complicated year for the MCU. ‘Black Widow‘ looks more like a transitional movie and ‘The Eternals‘, if it doesn’t work, could be the end of a plan that encompasses more movies. And when one film connected to another fails, the whole story falls apart.
DC films now have a much more important treasure than a common universe: they are unpredictable
DC’s treasure is unpredictability. Joker’ and ‘Birds of Prey’ are like night and day, and although ‘Joker’ is not officially part of the DC film universe, Warner must be very clear that the monster box office takings of ‘Joker’ would not have been possible if it were not a film based on a superhero comic. However, Warner doesn’t have the pressure of Marvel, nothing enviable, where a single failure can make a house of cards collapse with everything and its future projects.
Obviously, this doesn’t mean that DC’s future is without risk, nor that the company is immune to failures. While it is true that ‘Wonder Woman 1984‘ is a success almost guaranteed, 2021 is full of doubts: ‘The Batman‘ with Robert Pattinson who still does not convince even himself, is still an unknown, and that same year DC bet everything on a franchise whose previous delivery did not go well at all: ‘Suicide Squad‘, and a film based on a villain ‘Black Adam‘, in a year in which Marvel likewise, will bring out again all his heavy artillery.
The good thing for DC is that it has a relative creative freedom and a possibility of reaction with its superhero cinema that does not have Marvel, completely monolithic and forced to announce films that will not be released for several years.
Dc seems to have better tools to conquer his audience, than Marvel can have with its multiverses where everything is possible. We will have to see if DC uses this enormous possibility in his favor, which we will see in his next release ‘Birds of Prey’.