‘Birds of Prey’: Five lessons to learn from ‘Suicide Squad’

Let Harley Quinn and her Birds Of Prey truly fly

Finally, the long-awaited trailer for Birds of Prey – or to give it its full title, Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) – is here. And it looks actually, genuinely, surprisingly… good?

A spinoff of 2016’s, critically panned, actually, genuinely… not good Suicide Squad, Birds of Prey has been being teased for years; and given that Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn was the one saving grace of the damp squib that was Suicide Squad – a standalone film about the character has remained a tantalising prospect.

For Birds of Prey, Quinn has broken up with the Joker, sacked off the rest of the Suicide Squad (at least until James Gunn’s reboot The Suicide Squad drops in 2021), and formed her own, all-female team of vigilantes (featuring Jurnee Smollett-Bell as Black Canary, Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Huntress and Rosie Perez as Renee Montoya). So basically, it sounds like they’ve cut loose the dead weight of Suicide Squad, bought in a killer new team of characters, and are going to let Robbie fly.

With the film dropping next February, here’s what we hope Birds of Prey has learned from the disappointment of Suicide Squad, and what they absolutely shouldn’t be doing again.

Let Margot Robbie run the show

Undisputedly the best bit about Suicide Squad was Margot Robbie’s maniacal depiction of Harley Quinn, so hopefully director Cathy Yan will let the actress play around with the character. What people wanted to see more of in Suicide Squad was Harley Quinn, and each moment she wasn’t on screen was just a waiting game to when she was popping up again. For Birds of Prey to reach its full potential, Margot must be allowed to run the show (without the Joker popping up and interfering…)

Don’t let Harley Quinn be reliant on a man

Harley Quinn and the Joker’s relationship is an iconic storyline in comic book history, but it doesn’t feel right to have a character as brilliant as Harley Quinn exist only in the shadow of a man. Birds of Prey will see Quinn evolve as a character after breaking up with the Joker, and in an interview with Variety, screenwriter Christina Hodson said Quinn “doesn’t have to be in anyone’s shadow.” Hopefully this means the focus will be on Ol’ Sweets 24/7.

Birds of Prey

Get the villain right

Birds of Prey will see Ewan McGregor play Black Mask, a brutal crime lord who loves to torture people. It’s a stark difference to Suicide Squad’s major antagonist Enchantress (played by Cara Delevingne), who was basically a super powerful witch with magical powers. While on paper the character of Enchantress might have worked, on screen it ended up looking silly and added an unneeded fantasy element to the film.

Black Mask, however, feels like a more human villain. One who doesn’t magic themselves in and out of situations all the time (literally and metaphorically). From the brief glimpses of McGregor in the trailer, he seems diabolical and fiendish, with a real vendetta for Quinn, and the thought of two brilliantly written characters going up against each other is an exciting one.

Embrace the dark side of comics properly

The problem (well, one of them) with Suicide Squad was that it promised a lot, and then didn’t deliver. From the first look, it seemed like it would embrace the dark side of the comics, but when the film rolled around we were left disappointed. With a glorified witch as the main antagonist, the film had promised to be an alternative to the other superhero films on offer, and ended up having a more fantastical plot than all of them.

Bin off the magic, and explore the dark underbelly of Gotham City and Quinn’s back-story instead. It could be game-changing.

Get the team dynamic right

There was something off about the Suicide Squad team dynamic. There was little chemistry, the famed bad guys felt awkward to watch together and they didn’t seem to progress as a squad through the film. If Birds of Prey is to work, Harley Quinn’s new team needs to gel. It’s all very well watching them kick ass, but if it feels like each one is working on a different mission, it’ll make for a jarring watch.

Birds of Prey is out on 7 February 2020.