I'm a huge DC Comics fan and I love most of their movies. Batman was a huge inspiration for me when I was growing up and Batman: The Animated Series highlighted his awesome rogues gallery of villains as well as added to it. Paul Dini created a brand new villain for the series and almost 30 years later she's a pop culture phenomenon. Of course, the character I'm referring to is Harley Quinn. After her introduction in Batman: The Animated Series, Harley Quinn made her way into comics, TV and even the big screen, played by Margot Robbie.
Margot Robbie was cast as Harley Quinn in Suicide Squad back in 2015 and the actress quickly encapsulated the role. Harley Quinn was easily one of the best parts of Suicide Squad regardless of your feelings on the film and Margot Robbie embodied the character in a way I don't believe anyone else could. During the filming of Suicide Squad, Margot Robbie began to look forward and tried to figure out what could be next for Harley Quinn. "I kept saying like, 'Oh, Harley does so much better when she has people to play with.' I kept thinking that in real life I had such a girl gang, like my group of girlfriends, and I just want Harley to have a girl gang." Then came the idea for this to be a Birds of Prey film with Margot Robbie's Harley Quinn leading the charge.
Back in March, Warner Bros. invited journalists to visit the set of Margot Robbie's Birds of Prey (And The Fantabulous Emancipation Of One Harley Quinn) and I was one of the lucky few to see what the studio has in store with the first all-female superhero team-up film. On March 12, 2019, we arrived to the Warner Brothers Studios lot in Burbank, California and I don't think we were fully prepared for what we were about to see. As we walked into the Birds of Prey war room, we were surrounded by something not many DC movies have had: color.
The walls were plastered with concept art and items from Birds of Prey. We even got the chance to sit on the couch you'll see in Harley Quinn's apartment. Producers Sue Kroll and Bryan Unkeless entered the room and they gave us a look at an extended version of the costume test footage that dropped when Birds of Prey began filming, but I won't keep droning on the semantics of it all.
There's a bunch of cool things about Birds of Prey that you guys have yet to discover and I'm excited to dissect it for you in the following slideshow. Hit "Next" as I reveal almost everything about my Heroic mission to the Birds of Prey set.
Margot Robbie's Harley Quinn is back and her relationship with The Joker is over, as Birds of Prey will explore her life without the Clown Prince of Crime. Harley has an apartment and recently adopted a pet Hyena named Bruce. She has also changed the way she looks. In the movie, Harley will have grenades, a mallet, her iconic bat and a bevy of weapons at her disposal. Harley is the anti-hero of the movie and in now way the main character. Although, she will be the narrator even if she isn’t the most reliable of sources. Her new look also correlates to where her psyche is at this time. Costume Designer Erin Benach kept this in mind when she designed Margot Robbie's outfits for the film:
"Behind her story is always something a little bit off from center and a little bit crazy, with the idea being that caution tape may be a place to stay away from and maybe it's a way to caution the world against what she might do. So, we kind of took the idea of that caution tape and tried to repurpose it into a costume. We always wanted to create something that felt like Harley made it herself, so she’s sort of a crafty person in the backroom and she can make stuff herself -- you know the shorts that she’s painted and the jacket that she’s put together herself. That’s why we did it like that. It’s fun and a little bit crazy like her."
Helena Bertinelli is a founding member of the Birds of Prey in the comics and she will be making her big screen debut in the upcoming movie with Mary Elizabeth Winstead playing the iconic character. After the first look at the movie was released, fans of the comics wondered if Huntress would get her classic look in the film and it seems like the answer is that you'll have to wait and see. While talking to Costume Designer Erin Benach, we asked if Huntress would get her mask and she remained coy, noting "I can't say, but good job asking. " While we don't know if she'll wear a mask or not, we can tell you that she'll have more than one outfit in the film. Benach revealed key details on Huntress' design in the film and how her tracksuits have a practical use:
"Our Huntress is always about function and someone who’s on a mission and does not want to be distracted by outside sources. Whereas you know Harley might be walking down the street like 'I want to grab that diamond and put it on myself or grab that item and put it on myself.' Huntress is focused and she is sort of all business. She’s super focused on the job at hand. We wanted to create something really functional for her and also fashion-forward and cool. So, we created this tracksuit and you’ll see that she has many different tracksuits throughout the film."
Another member of the Birds of Prey from the comics, Black Canary will also be in the film with Jurnee Smollett-Bell in the role. She's a singer at the Black Mask club and she has a very distinct look. It isn't like anything we've seen in the comics and that may be a very good thing. During the presentation, Birds of Prey costume designer Erin Benach revealed some key details regarding our new Black Canary.
"In this look that you’re seeing here she’s on stage, performing a song. She’s got this really soulful quality about her and I think we were trying to show that in the costume that she was strong and soulful at the same time as well as unique. She’s got this kind of "created herself" look of put together armbands and things that maybe she cut up and put together herself for her performance. I’n general she’s very inspired by the 70s and the streetwear of that era. You’ll kind of see throughout she’s got silhouettes like really sleek suits, but with bell-bottoms and high-waisted pants. You’ll see there’s sort of a mix of genres with her and her looks."
Renee Montoya is a rough and tough detective in the Gotham Police Department. A pretty prominent character throughout Batman lore, Renee even becomes a hero known as The Question in the comics, so who better to play her than Rosie Perez? In the Birds of Prey movie, Renee Montoya is pretty accurate to her comic book-counterpart. However, Renee wears a pretty lewd shirt at some point in the film.
"Renee is not being listened to by her peers and colleagues. She’s sexy and tough... kind of like every female superhero in our film. But, she is an intuitive self-thinker. She’s sort of the person that is consistently getting shat on and she kind of is the only one that really knows the truth. She gets stuff all over her and winds up having to take something out of the Gotham PD's lost and found section, and this is the only thing left that she’s able to find. And as you learn more about her character you’ll see why that line even more obnoxious to her own self."
Cassandra Cain is a very different character in the film than in the comics. In the film, Cassandra is a bit of a street rat and that may or may not put her in Black Mask's crosshairs. Her look in the film is also very different than her look in the comics. In the film, Cassandra wears a bright pink jacket, and in the comics, she's usually in black, but it's a great change for the character. While on set, we chatted with Erin Benach and she gave us some insight into Cassandra Cain and what she might bring to the table in the movie:
"Cass is our street urchin. She’s street savvy and kind of cool and tomboy in her way. Cass knows the streets.... or at least thinks she knows the streets, though not as well as she should. We were just trying to give her this 'mean little cute girl' vibe. She would have this jacket because she has lots of things she needs to stash in it."
Also known as Black Mask, Roman Sionis is a notable member of Batman's rogues gallery. In Birds of Prey, Roman is played by the legendary Ewan McGregor and comic book fans will notice that he isn't wearing his iconic black mask. While we didn't get to see Roman in the black mask on set, Warner Bros. premiered a new Birds of Prey sneak peek at Brazil's CCXP, showing the character with his classic look. Sionis is the laird of the Black Mask club in the film, and also the main antagonist and what brings our unlikely team of heroes together. He’s a collector of people, things and even culture. His home is stuffed with numerous artifacts, pieces of art and things from numerous cultures. He has a distinct look as he's always wearing a white suit, but that's for a very particular reason. While speaking about Roman's look, Benach revealed the following about the villainous character:
"Roman Sionis has a fun plethora of looks in our movie. The world is his oyster as far as what he can wear, what he's able to afford and what he does wear. He wears white suits where other people would be very dirty wearing white suits. That’s sort of the picture behind this one. He is the laird of the Black Mask club and we see him a lot during night-time and club scenes, so we wanted things to play very nicely off of the interior night lighting which [production designer K. K. Barrett] and I both did consistently and throughout. Something like this costume was just one of those things that just plays amazing with light when you’re indoors and a lot of his looks kind of do that."
Another villain from Batman's rogue gallery, Victor Zsasz has a very distinct look but he's still the character that comic books fans know in Birds of Prey. He's Roman's right-hand man and top henchman, so he's got to look the part. Victor is kind of like Cassandra Cain with his street urchin vibe, but he has style. Erin Benach gave us a brief description on Zsasz's look in the movie:
"Roman's right hand also has a street urchin vibe. All of the goons and people that surround Roman kind of have a style about them that makes them feel like a gang, but like a very elevated stylish gang... and it’s sort of what Roman would want to have around him."
An iconic Batman location is in Birds of Prey and it should please hardcore fans of the Dark Knight and the Arkham games. Production Designer K.K. Barrett told us that Amusement Mile will make an appearance in the upcoming film. While we were in the Birds of Prey war room, we saw concept art of a fun house that was pretty colorful. It kind of resembled the art from Pink Floyd's The Wall. We weren’t 100% sure that it would be located in Amusement Mile, but Barrett made sure we knew. "And then there’s the fun house. The world of Amusement Mile, which I guess is in the lore of some of these characters," said Barrett. "I wanted to kind of tip it on its head and do something not so gothic as maybe the world it's predisposed to but bring it up into a couple different decades and mash em together."
If you were hoping to see Batgirl alongside Margot Robbie's Harley Quinn, I've got some bad news for you: she's not in this movie. The Barbara Gordon version of Batgirl is an important member of the Birds of Prey in the comics, so while we sat with Sue Kroll, the Batgirl question came up and she answered it with complete honesty: "You'll not see Batgirl. Just gonna say 'No.'"
When we asked producers Sue Kroll and Bryan Unkeless about Birds of Prey being rated R, this is what the latter has to say: "We're two thirds of the way through production. So a whole lot of things could change, and that whole process as you know is complicated, but one thing I think that has really been a guiding light for us is to push boundaries and really not allow any kind of barriers to the creativity or the attitude that Harley sets forth. So that will lead us to where it leads us. But certainly we're trying to take chances." However, based on what we saw on set, this film is probably 100% R-Rated. From Harley wearing a "Harley F***ing Quinn" shirt to Cassandra Cain's potty mouth, Birds of Prey is not a movie for young kids.
Warner Bros. and DC Films have had their fair share of problems over the years with critical and commercial failures like Suicide Squad and Justice League. Now, they've been on a bit of a hot streak since the release of Aquaman. With Aquaman and Joker both crossing the $1 billion mark and Shazam! being a critical success, Birds of Prey should be received with open arms. Going off of what I saw on set, DC Comics fans are in for a wild ride with Margot Robbie's Birds of Prey (And The Fantabulous Emancipation Of One Harley Quinn).
You can check out our full interviews from the set of Margot Robbie's Birds of Prey below.
- Birds of Prey Director Cathy Yan On Harley Quinn Being An Unreliable Narrator
- Birds of Prey Producer Sue Kroll On Batgirl Appearing In The Film
- Margot Robbie On Birds Of Prey & Harley Quinn's Break-Up With The Joker
- Margot Robbie's Birds of Prey Will Feature A Familiar Batman Location
Birds of Prey (And The Fantabulous Emancipation Of One Harley Quinn) hits theaters February 7th, 2020.