Birds of Prey Director Cathy Yan Has a Personal Connection to the Movie

The upcoming Birds of Prey movie won't be the first superhero movie that focuses on a female character, but it will be the first that focuses on a female ensemble, a collective "Girl gang" as Margot Robbie puts it. Planning for the film began while shooting was still underway for Suicide Squad, initiated by Robbie's interest in her DC comics research as well as her desire to see Harley just have a group of women to pal around with. As development continued later on with screenwriter Christina Hodson and director Cathy Yan, the film took on a deeper meaning thanks to its troupe of female characters.

ComicBook.com visited the set of Birds of Prey when it was undergoing principal photography earlier this year where Yan opened up about her personal connection to the movie and script by Hodson. Yan elaborated on the specific themes she's focused on in the film (dating all the way back to her initial pitch), and how she thinks they'll resonate with audiences because of their place in reality.

"To me the story is super compelling and personal to me because it is about emancipation, about women sort almost being competitive with one another and bringing each other down. But also because of our own inabilities I think to feel so powerless in the stranglehold that is the patriarchy. I feel like I very much have gone through that arc myself...And I've seen it, especially I think set against the backdrop of like 'Me Too' and what has been happening in our industry in the last few years. So, that definitely infiltrated its way into my pitch as well. So that for me this film was so much more than a superhero film about first girl gang film or any of that. But it really has a compelling narrative and theme to it is very, very personal to me."

This connection in Yan's pitch, as well as her work on her first feature Dead Pigs (which has managed to still not find distribution), is what lead Robbie to champion for her to be the filmmaker behind the camera. The Academy Award nominee elaborated a little more on this on set as well, saying:

"Kathy gave the best pitch. She came in, she understood the piece, she elevated the ideas that we'd been working on and kind of took them to a place. And that's kind of what you need your director to do, to take what you have and then elevate it to another level. And she did that. And I remember writing copious notes every time we spoke to someone, and Kathy came in and my page was like just a big smiley face. I was just like, 'It's perfect. She's perfect for it.' So it was really exciting, that initial conversation."

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Robbie leads the cast of the film as the titular Harley Quinn. She's joined by the also titular Birds of Prety which will include Black Canary (Jurnee Smollett-Bell), Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco), and Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez). In the film, these characters join forces against one of Gotham's most vicious crime lords, Black Mask (Ewan McGregor), plus another eccentric-Batman villain Victor Zsasz (Chris Messina).

Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) is scheduled to open in theaters on February 7, 2020.