If it wasn’t for Justice League, the DC films would be on quite the streak right now. Yes, if you look at all of their films besides Justice League, after Suicide Squad, you have Wonder Woman, Aquaman, and SHAZAM!, each a success in their own way. Aquaman in particular made a shitload of money at the box office. Now, later this week we have the much hyped and much anticipated premier of JOKER. I think the direction of the DC Cinematic Universe from here on will be largely predicated upon how JOKER performs financially. If it’s a smash hit, I think they’ll probably continue trying stand-alone, “Elseworlds” style stories like JOKER that are independent of The DCEU (I’m not calling it The Worlds of DC! I’m not fucking doing it!!!). If the film under performs I would imagine they will go back to embracing universe building, single continuity films like the upcoming Wonder Woman 1984 and Aquaman 2.
Out of all their upcoming projects, I am by far most intrigued by Matt Reeves’ new Batman film. I think Robert Pattinson is a great choice for Batman. I think he’s underestimated as an actor by a lot of people who don’t know his work outside of the Twilight series. Also Matt Reeves is a great filmmaker and writer, who wants to bring Batman back to his detective roots. Reeves seems to finally be making a Batman film that’s a noir-detective story, which is something we’ve never really seen from the character, ironically enough. Despite it being such a massive part of who he is and his mythology, we’ve never seen “Batman: The World’s Greatest Detective” on the big screen.
Then, we had the trailer for Birds of Prey (And The Fantabulous Emancipation Of One Harley Quinn) drop like a ton of shit today. I’ll be honest with you,this movie kind of came out of nowhere for me. For someone who follows comic books movies so closely, I had no idea the movie was this close to release until I saw a teaser for during my screening of It: Chapter 2. First things first, I want you guys to get a chance to check out the trailer, which I’ve posted below and I’ll give you my thoughts after…
First of all, regardless of what I think about this film as a DC Comics adaptation, this is just a bad trailer. There’s no clear indication of what’s really going on, who the good guys and the bad guys are, what the hell the story is, it’s just a big goddamn mess. The only thing that is clear is that we’re getting a shitload of Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn front and center. If I didn’t know better I would say this is just a straight up Harley Quinn solo film. It looks nothing like up what I would imagine a Birds of Prey movie would look like (I’ll get back to that in a minute). Don’t get me wrong, I really like Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn and I thought she was one of the high points of the otherwise abysmal Suicide Squad. Unfortunately, Harley Quinn is one of those characters that’s really popular with fans and tends to get over used. Just to give you an example from the world of comics, DC has at least three or four Harley Quinn-centric books being published right now. Four Harley Quinn comics is three Harley Quinn comics too many. Even though they’re very different characters, Wolverine came to mind as I watched this trailer. Some of the greatest X-Men comic book writers of all time have understood one thing: less is more with Wolverine when he’s with The X-Men. He such a popular character that the temptation for most writers is to put him front and center, make him the most important character in the story. However with Wolverine, (at least when he’s in the X-Men, not his solo books) if he’s used in small doses, the moments the writers let him off the chain and really allow the character to shine, the moment is that much more special because they showed restraint. With Birds of Prey, all I’ve seen is the trailer and I’m already sick of Harley Quinn.
In the comics Birds of Prey is a long running, very beloved series about 3 great female DC heroes, who come together to pool their skills, and eventually become a little family. The team classically consist of the wheelchair bound Barbara Gordon, who after retiring as Batgirl due to her injuries at the hands of The Joker, has taken up the mantle of Oracle. She is the ultimate hacker, she’s the hub of all knowledge and information for the heroes of the DC Universe. She handles everything from tracking criminals to hacking into The Pentagon, she’s the ultimate field support team. As Ned from the Spider-Man films likes to say that he’s the “man in the chair“, well Oracle is the original “woman in the chair“. Everything Felicity did on the TV show Arrow was basically Oracle. They even make a joke on the show about how Felicity should get a code name like everyone else on Team Arrow and Oliver mentioned he wanted her code name to be Oracle “but it’s taken”. She is the best of the best at what she does. Heroes all the way from Batman and Superman come to her for her help and expertise.
The field team usually consists of Helena Bertinelli a.k.a. Huntress, a violent Gotham vigilante who is almost always an outsider/pariah within the community of Gotham City vigilantes. Huntress is not afraid to kill to get the job done, which of course Batman does not approve of. But Huntress doesn’t particularly give a shit what Batman does and does not approve of.
Finally,there is Dinah Lance a.k.a. Black Canary, she is one of the greatest martial artists in the DC Universe, she could easily go toe to toe with the very best hand to hand fighters in the DCU. She’s also a meta-human who can emit intense sonic “canary cries“. She can modulate the power of her sonic blasts so it can be used as a simple distraction or powerful enough to rip through a concrete wall. Gail Simone was the writer who made this series what it was. There have been a lot of other writers who’ve worked on Birds of Prey, but Gail Simone is by far the most well-known and beloved.
My point is Birds of Prey is about these 3 female Gotham vigilantes coming together to fight the good fight. There’s nothing wrong with throwing Harley Quinn into the mix, in fact I think that could be really fun. However, based on the trailer none of that seems to be there, it’s just all Harley Quinn, all the time.
I haven’t even touched on the villain, Gotham crime boss Roman Sionus a.k.a. Black Mask played by Ewan McGregor. Black Mask is known for 3 things: first, he’s one of the biggest organize crime figures in Gotham, who leans more towards the traditional criminal side of things, than over the top insanity of some of Batman‘s other rogues gallery like Scarecrow, for example. Second, his entire head and face permanently resemble a black skull. Think The Red Skull from Captain America, but completely black instead and wearing a business suit and that’s exactly what Black Mask looks like. Finally, he’s known for loving to torture his victims to death. So all around he’s a really nice, pleasant guy. You don’t see any indication of him looking anything like the traditional Black Mask in this trailer, so why not just make him a different character if you’re not gonna use that interesting visual motif Black Mask possesses? But it’s hard to be too critical because I didn’t really get enough of Ewan McGregor in the trailer to get a sense of how he’s playing the part. I love Ewan McGregor so I hope they actually give him something interesting to do. The trailer is cut together so poorly I can’t even understand some of Ewan McGregor’s lines sometimes.
Look, obviously I want this movie to be good. I want it to be a success. I love the DC Universe and I love these characters. I hope I’m wrong and I hope they pull it off. However, at the moment the Birds of Prey a.k.a. “Harley Quinn: The Movie”, looks pretty shitty in my opinion.
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