The Birds of Prey movie just might become the DCEU's first R-rated theatrical release. After launching the DC Comics-based movie universe in 2016, with Zack Snyder's Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, Warner Bros. quickly got the ball rolling on expanding the DCEU with David Ayer's Suicide Squad that summer, starring Will Smith as Deadshot and Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn, who were both members of Amanda Waller's Task Force X.
In spite of having an immense amount of hype surrounding the film, Suicide Squad became an unmitigated critical failure, yet it still managed to become an astounding box office success (without releasing in China, too). Not only did it prove that major comic book movies centered on villains could work, but it also convinced the studio to keep Harley Quinn around for the long haul. So, they've commissioned four Harley Quinn-related projects, of which only one seems to be actively moving forward: Birds of Prey. The rest may never happen (as is customary in Hollywood), but at least the one project that is pushing ahead is one that is near and dear to Margot Robbie, who's actually responsible for getting it this far.
In an interview with Collider for her latest film, Terminal, Margot Robbie revealed that she had pitched a Harley Quinn spinoff movie - one based on the Birds of Prey comics - that is now being rewritten by Christina Hodson and directed by Cathy Yan. While she wants the movie to focus on Harley and her friends, one point of contention was that the film be rated R.
“I pitched the idea of an R-rated girl gang film including Harley, because I was like, ‘Harley needs friends.’ Harley loves interacting with people, so don’t ever make her do a standalone film. She’s got to be with other people, it should be a girl gang. I wasn’t seeing enough girl gangs on screen, especially in the action space. So that was always a big part of it."
Going off Margot Robbie's comments, it seems that Birds of Prey will be the first theatrical R-rated DCEU film. Sure, Zack Snyder's Batman V Superman Ultimate Cut was rated R, but that version wasn't the one that released in theaters. And what's even more interesting is that Batman V Superman isn't the only Warner Bros. blockbuster film to receive an R-rated version on home video. In 2015, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies Extended Edition also received an R rating from the MPAA due to excessive violence.
Since there's only one Harley Quinn, it remains to be seen which Harley-centered movie will enter production first: Birds of Prey or Suicide Squad 2. Considering that Birds of Prey seems to be moving smoothly behind the scenes and doesn't require juggling as many schedules around, it's possible that that film could shoot first, which may actually be an advantage in the long-run.
One of the chief complaints of 2016's Suicide Squad film was that it was PG-13 when it clearly should've been rated R. If Birds of Prey releases as an R-rated movie and is successful, then that might pave the way for Suicide Squad 2 to also be rated R. But we'll just have to wait and see what happens on that front. Overall, while Harley's immediate future in the DCEU remains unclear, what is clear is that Warner Bros. isn't letting go of the character anytime soon - and Robbie seems to be holding on tightly as well.
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