Broadcast on CANAL +, “Birds of Prey” allows Margot Robbie to reprise the role of Harley Quinn in a story of emancipation which also seeks to rectify the shooting and mistakes of “Suicide Squad” on her character.
It was December 2, 2014. That day, what was then a rumor becomes official: just a year after her shattering revelation in The Wolf of Wall Street, Margot Robbie lands the role of Harley Quinn, of which she becomes the first incarnation in flesh and blood on the big screen. Engaged alongside Will Smith and the Joker played by Jared Leto, the Australian actress is one of the headliners of Suicide Squad, a project which intends to focus on the dark side of the DC universe, by following a group government-mandated supervillains for high-risk secret missions, whose survivors will get remission.
Directed by David Ayer, who is not at his first attempt at badass groups (Sabotage, Fury), the film generates a pretty hype and Viola Davis, interpreter of Amanda Waller, affirms us in interview than “it will be the foot!” If the trailer unveiled at Comic-Con San Diego 2015 is dark and promising, some concerns arise over the months. Because of Jared Leto’s unsubtle tattoos, or Harley Quinn’s outfit that gets shorter as the release approaches, while one of the jackets worn by Margot Robbie says “Property of the Joker” (“Property of the Joker”) and gives rise to fears that his relationship with the Clown Prince of Crime, toxic in comic books, is poorly transposed on the big screen.
Preceded by less and less engaging echoes, Suicide Squad arrives on our screens on August 3, 2016. And the fears are proven to be justified. The feature film that we imagined more raw and down-to-earth has turned into a blockbuster with an apocalyptic climax, with great reinforcements of reshoots which also aimed to add humor and get closer to the Guardians of the Marvel Galaxy, which the editing entrusted to the editors of the trailer tries to ape in vain. Without forgetting the many writing worries that annihilate the rare successful moments (such as the touching and melancholy scene in the bar in the light of the finale) where what the film should have been reflected. But the latter worked, grossing $ 747 million worldwide, on a budget of 175. And it doesn’t take long for the idea of a sequel to be hinted at.
While the project struggles to take shape clearly, Margot Robbie takes the opportunity to take matters into her own hands, she who appears to be one of the few satisfactions of the first opus, just as much as the victim of some of its more big flaws. Starting with its objectification, symbolized by Harley Quinn’s underwear and the many shots on his posterior (a good thirty in just under 120 minutes) which make it a good illustration of the “male gauze”, or heterosexual man’s point of view on visual culture. Without forgetting the psychology of the character: not content with not succeeding in giving her a real clear personality by accumulating sources of inspiration, the script and the editing make her a victim hypnotized by a Joker who has become romantic and tempt to legitimize his abuse within a supposedly toxic relationship.
And it is this choice, which Harley was deprived of in 2016, that Margot Robbie then tries to seize by becoming the producer of the sequel to Suicide Squad … which turns into a spin-off entitled Gotham City Sirens, and in which she was to rub shoulders with Catwoman, Poison Iyy and Batgirl in front of David Ayer’s camera. But the project does not move forward and the director is even forced to deny rumors of its cancellation in July 2017, as the DC Extended Universe is about to falter for good with the failure of Justice League. It is then that the actress takes matters into her own hands: “During my research on the character, I started to read [les comic books] ‘Birds of Prey’ and I fell in love with Huntress, so I got into it all “, she explained to the site Nerdist.
“I was like ‘Wow, there are so many cool female characters in DC and nobody knows anything about them. What if we had a program for fans to get to know these amazing women and fall in love with them? focusing on the Gotham City Sirens, there were only three and they were already very well known where with Birds of Prey you can pick any band you want, so that seemed like the best way to introduce some female characters who could really have a foothold in the DC Universe. “ This is how Harley Quinn’s comeback on the big screen began to materialize, with a screenplay by Christina Hodson and directed by Cathy Yan. Let two women tell the story of the emancipation of anti-heroine, the key word in the American title before it was simplified during its exploitation across the Atlantic.
“I’m the one scary. Not you. Not Mr. J.” – Harley Quinn
Because the idea is not to deny Suicide Squad, which we even find a few images in a flashback, but to rectify the situation. To emancipate himself from it to allow Margot Robbie to reclaim the character of Harley Quinn, even if the symbols accumulate in the first act, between the explosion of the Ace Chemicals factory where she was “transformed” like the Joker, his break with the Clown Prince of Crime which leads to a touch-up of some of his tattoos and a change of look that involves a haircut and a choice of less light but more practical outfits. A wardrobe renewal that we imagine impelled by the actress, she who had declared to be uncomfortable on the set of David Ayer’s film, as well as the choice of a director to introduce a little of “female gaze” in a genre far too masculine, despite the success of Wonder Woman or Captain Marvel.
At our microphone, Cathy Yan says: “Women want and can direct action movies.” And it is with a feminine and feminist opus that she seeks to prove it. A story in which women try to find their place in this world of men that Black Canary (Jurnee Smollett-Bell) sings in her cover of “It’s A Man’s Man’s Man’s World” by James Brown. In front of as behind the camera, and even if it means using force with great reinforcements of broken knees and blows in the male attributes struck by the heroines. The image may not be very fine, but it fits in with the exuberant personality of Harley Quinn whose film, colorful and crossed out, regularly espouses the point of view.
Rated R in the United States (prohibited for unaccompanied under 17s) at the request of Margot Robbie, to get away from the all-comer of blockbusters, and mostly inspired by comic books signed Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti published from 2013, even in its cartoony side and the way to break the fourth wall to address the viewer, Birds of Prey shows us how the former acolyte and companion of the Joker tries to make a name for herself without being automatically associated with the Clown prince of the crime, whose aura guaranteed him protection on the streets of Gotham City.
Involved in a story of diamond theft committed by her protege Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco), she finds herself teaming up with a vigilante seeking revenge against her family’s murderers (Huntress, played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead), a policewoman accustomed to seeing her male partners take all the credit for her own successes and the sidekick of the big bad Roman Sionis, alias Black Mask, misogynistic and kindly cartoonish gangster embodied by a freewheeling Ewan McGregor who alone personifies masculinity toxic. More than the macho colleagues of Renée Montoya (Rosie Perez), the mobsters who want the skin of Harley Quinn or the owner of the Asian restaurant where the latter has her habits, and who ultimately does not hesitate to betray her for a nice sum silver. There again, the line is a little enlarged, but the idea is to show that the female quintet can only count on itself. Or at least not on the men around them.
And that’s what the line translates “We won’t get out of here. Unless we cooperate”, or this fight during which a fighter prevents her partner from tangling her hair by lending her a rubber band, a kindly anecdotal but nonetheless funny illustration of the notion of sorority imagined by screenwriter Christina Hodson: “My sister and I would always joke that the women in superhero movies always go into battle or do completely crazy, epic stuff with beautifully flowing, well-groomed hair, when neither of us would think of it. eating a sandwich with your hair down. So I had to hint at it here “, she explained to the Hollywood Reporter.
If the reinforcement of Chad Stahelski (John Wick) for the action scenes during the reshoots somewhat tarnishes the subject, and the whole is not without flaws, the feature sounds like a victory for Margot Robbie. Because she has managed to re-appropriate an objectified character in Suicide Squad, with a project piloted by her, over which she was able to have real creative control which results in the commitments of a screenwriter and a director. And the fact of having convinced the Warner to add her accomplices less known than what was initially planned with Catwoman or Poison Ivy. The emancipation of the (first) original title is also his. As an actress and blockbuster producer. And even if the actress had admitted to fearing this type of turnaround, see the renowned film Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey in the United States reflects this change in status.
With 33 million dollars in revenue for its start-up across the Atlantic, and 412,178 spectators in France during its first week (for a total slowed down to 1,040,500 admissions due to the pandemic which caused theaters to close), the The essay is not really transformed at the box office, even if the 85 million greenbacks in the budget have paid off. Backstage, just like Gal Gadot was able to pressure so that Brett Ratner, accused of sexual harassment, is no longer the producer of Wonder Woman 1984, the Australian actress has imposed herself in a very masculine universe, and the film will remain as the one through which she managed to change the image of Harley Quinn on the big screen … before returning to Suicide Squad. In front of the camera, this time from James Gunn and with another look, which features more hues of red and black, obviously reminiscent of her original costume in the 1992 animated series, where she took her first steps.
We will of course have to wait until July 28, 2021 to see what the character’s approach will be in this sequel which will also serve as a semi-reboot. But there is no doubt that we will be closer to Birds of Prey than to the first Suicide Squad. And not just because of Joker Jared Leto’s absence from the narrative. Proof that the attempt to emancipate Margot Robbie and her character will have borne fruit.
When Margot Robbie and the Birds of Prey invite themselves to FanZone: