Margot Robbie, producer and star of Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn), confirms the DC movie is "less male gaze-y." Robbie made her DC Films debut playing Dr. Harleen Quinzel aka. Harley Quinn in 2016 as part of the ensemble cast in David Ayer's Suicide Squad. In the movie, Robbie's character forgoes the villainess' typical red and black harlequin jumpsuit for a pair of short shorts and a tight T-shirt that reads "Daddy's lil monster." Like that of Jared Leto's Joker, Harley Quinn's non-classic look was the focus of much discussion among Suicide Squad viewers.
However, though Suicide Squad was poorly reviewed and divisive among DC fans, Robbie's Harley Quinn was one aspect of the film that was near-universally beloved. As such, Warner Bros. and DC Films put a handful of Harley Quinn movies into development, including a Suicide Squad sequel, Gotham City Sirens from Ayer, and a Joker and Harley Quinn movie. Although James Gunn's The Suicide Squad is expected to see Harley return, fans will next get to see Robbie's anti-hero in Birds of Prey. The film, directed by Cathy Yan from a script by Christina Hodson, is a female-fronted project, with Robbie producing as well as starring as Harley Quinn, who teams up with DC heroes Black Canary (Jurnee Smollett-Bell), Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez) to rescue the young Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco).
From the release of the Birds of Prey costume test video, it's been clear that this film's take on Harley Quinn and her fellow female DC characters would be pandering much less to straight male viewers. Robbie confirms as much in a Vogue profile. When journalist Irina Aleksander brings up the difference in Harley Quinn's costumes on Birds of Prey versus Suicide Squad, costume designer Erin Benach (A Star is Born) attributed it to the female-led creative team, saying, "That’s what happens when you have a female producer, director, writer." Robbie chimed in to say, "Yeah, it’s definitely less male gaze-y."
The male gaze, for those unfamiliar with the term, refers to the practice of depicting women in media and literature from a specifically straight, male perspective, typically as sexual objects for the pleasure of straight male viewers. In comics and superhero movies specifically, the term is applied to female characters whose costumes and/or poses are sexualized for no real reason other than to appeal to straight male consumers - like, arguably, Harley Quinn's costume in Suicide Squad. It should be noted that Kate Hawley was the costume designer on Suicide Squad, but directors and producers also weigh in on costumes, which, on Suicide Squad, were all men with the singular exception of Deborah Snyder.
Whereas on Birds of Prey, the movie has a female director in Yan, a female writer in Hodson and two female producers in Robbie and Sue Kroll, which - as Benach hints - allows for a production that feels more authentic and less like it's pandering to straight men only. It remains to be seen if that leads to a more successful movie in Birds of Prey, but given the success of Wonder Woman, Black Panther and Captain Marvel, it's clear audiences are ready for more stories told from a variety of perspectives. And with the Birds of Prey movie budget smaller than typical DCEU films, even though it's R-rated, it could be a major success - both critically and commercially. No matter what, fans will get to see Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) for themselves next year.
- Joker (2019) release date: Oct 04, 2019
- Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) (2020) release date: Feb 07, 2020
- Wonder Woman 1984 (2020) release date: Jun 05, 2020
- The Batman (2021) release date: Jun 25, 2021
- The Suicide Squad (2021) release date: Aug 06, 2021
- DC Super Pets (2022) release date: May 20, 2022
- Aquaman 2 (2022) release date: Dec 16, 2022