There’s been a lot of news stories lately about the relatively lacklustre box-office performance of the new DC movie (formerly) known as “Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)”, as well as a fascinating Deadline article examining various potential causes contributing to its belly-flop, so I felt moved to bash out a blog-post explaining my own apathy towards it, despite being a HQ-fan from way-back (with the T-shirts, wallet, beanie, keyring, and toys to prove it!)…
I guess the first turn-off came many months ago, when I was randomly searching for a HQ hoodie, and saw one on eBay that simply had the words “Birds of Prey” printed on it, followed by that dumbass subtitle in much smaller lettering. The main logo looked pretty cool, using the silhouettes of various weapons to separate the letters, but it confused/worried me because the only connection my brain could make between Harley and the eponymous vigilante group was that godawful TV show from 2002, where she appeared (in name only) as their nemesis. So, not a happy association at all. Shudder. This confusion was deepened by the reviews I read (and videos I watched) suggesting that the story was really more of a HQ solo outing, with the Birds as her tagalong side-chicks (despite one of them being a powered-up superhuman!)… so why give them so much prominence in the title, when they’re even less familiar to a general TV/movie-viewing audience than she is? The marketing was a muddle, frankly, and it didn’t inspire any real confidence in the production itself. Now, just days after its release, the studio has belatedly changed the title to promote Harley’s name ahead of the Birds, but surely someone should have thought of that before all the posters (and merchandise) were printed up!?
The second strike against it, of course, was the rotten aftertaste left by the largely-laugh-free Suicide Squad… even though this semi-sequel has a totally different creative team behind it, and a higher age-rating, there was nothing in the first trailer (released 10/19) to dispel the pessimistic assumption that it would be much-of-a-meh-ness (they didn’t even take the opportunity to scrub those stupid scribble-pad tattoos off!). To be fair, the second trailer (released 1/20) had a lot more jokes in it, but I only saw that yesterday as “research” for this post… and Margot Robbie‘s HQ still kinda gives off an overbearing cool-person-trying-to-be-“kooky” vibe to me, rather than the adorably unhinged underdog I was rooting for back in the Animated Series days. Personally, I’d rather see them cast a comic actress with a more intense/off-kilter energy, like Jenny Slate, Kristen Schaal, or Kate McKinnon… or even let Gotham’s Francesca Root-Dodson have a shot at the big-time!*
Obviously I’ll end up watching this eventually, because I’m a geek (and a masochist)… and I’m sure it will be more bearable than the godawful video-flick Batman and Harley Quinn (starring The Big Bang Theory’s Melissa Rauch) and super-sweary cartoon series (starring The Big Bang Theory’s Kaley Cuoco), both of which I had to turn off after the first 10 minutes-or-so… but for the moment I’m left in that frustrating, conflicted purgatory where I “stan” the original character super-hard**, but am totally unenthused by any of her current headlining gigs. Gah!
* Normally I’d namecheck Aubrey Plaza here too, but if she’s cast as HQ then she can’t play Catwoman as well, and she absolutely has to play Catwoman!
** For that matter, I’ve really enjoyed reading comics featuring the other “Birds” in the past, and think any of them could carry a movie by themselves… though obviously my dream would be a Renee Montoya character-study starring Michelle Rodriguez…