Google “Birds of Prey” and the first few articles that come up look something like “How DC can still save the Harley Quinn Movie” or “Harley Quinn’s ‘bad girl’ empowerment film isn’t as good as it thinks it is.” People are wincing at the “terrible” numbers from the box office (the film made back its budget in the opening weekend) and the “band of female misandrist miscreants” that just aren’t sexy enough, but I’m here to deliver a reality check.
Birds of Prey was made for women.
Harley has always been a favourite character of young girls and women everywhere. She’s especially been an icon in for queer women, being bisexual herself, and fans were disappointed in what Suicide Squad delivered. Not surprised, but disappointed. Instead of the glitzy, camp Harley we knew and loved, we got a strange amalgamation of 16 year old boy fan art in a ripped “Daddy’s Little Monster” shirt.
You know why #BirdsOfPrey is going to bomb just like #CharliesAngels did?
They’ve removed any sex appeal these characters had to appeal to a female “girl power” audience instead of the core male comic book audience.
They literally don’t know who they’re making this movie for. pic.twitter.com/ZKp9A301PN
— Matthew Kadish (@MatthewKadish) January 26, 2020
It only made sense for the real Harley to have her screen debut with women at the helm. Honestly, it’s a pretty ballsy move, having women write, direct, produce, and star in a DC film. You could see the female gaze in everything in the movie, from hair, makeup and clothes, to the way they spoke and the music in the soundtrack. People absolutely lost their shit when the trailer showed a Harley offering Canary a hair tie in the middle of a fight scene.
It’s even in tiny things that most people miss, like camera angles. The camera changes the way we as the audience views the other characters- if the camera is above a character, we see them as weak and lowly, if it pans up their body, we’re positioned to see them as a sexual object. When women are behind the camera, we get to see the characters on screen the way that women see them.
Birds of Prey is a movie that was made for people like me. The genre and cinematography are “Murder Glitter” It’s why there are so many dudes hating. They don’t get it. I happy-gasped when Harley casually turned to Black canary during a fight scene and just said “Hair tie?”
— Victoria Kositz (@evo_kositz) February 11, 2020
I saw a lot of parallels between Birds of Prey and other female led movies, like Ocean’s Eight and Charlie’s Angels, the latter of which was called a complete flop by most critics. All three of these films have faced a lot of criticism from being too feminist or too woke. They’ve been accused of jumping on the #MeToo, empowered women bandwagon. People think that when women creators bring feminism into their work, it loses its authenticity, but I find it’s the opposite. Women’s lives and bodies are inherently political, and the acknowledgement of that in films makes my heart soar because I can see a scrap of myself and the other women I know in films.
At the end of the day, there’s no denying that cinema still has a long, long way to go in terms of representation. Until we see more characters who aren’t white, straight, cisgender, and able bodied, we can’t say that we’ve reached a feminist utopia in film (sorry MRA’s of Twitter, you’ve got a big storm coming).
#BirdsOfPrey was so good. How could y’all sleep on this? pic.twitter.com/urNPACvzGv
— Watch Deputy on Fox, you f*cks (@WeirdNPissdOff) February 16, 2020
Movies like Birds of Prey, Charlie’s Angels, and Ocean’s Eight exist outside of the male ego. They don’t take into consideration what men will think and I for one, find that delightful.
Image Source: Warner Bros, Twitter