Birds of Prey: Ewan McGregor Addresses Black Mask's Sexuality

DC's Birds of Prey movie will be hitting theaters in just a few weeks, but we still know surprisingly little about the story. We know the players involved (Harley Quinn, Black Mask, Huntress, Black Canary, Zsasz, etc.), and know the general gist, but the character relationships and narrative structure have strangely been kept under wraps during the marketing campaign. One big rumor about Birds of Prey has been that Ewan McGregor's Black Mask and his henchman, serial killer Victor Zsasz are not just co-workers, but lovers as well. During the recent soundtrack debut event for Birds of Prey, Variety approached Ewan McGregor and asked him (in no uncertain terms) about Black Mask's sexuality.

"It's very complicated," McGregor starts off saying. "Their relationship is very much based in... there's a 'want' and a 'need' in there, for sure."

Messina added that there's "like a real love of anarchy" between Black Mask and Zsasz.

At that point, McGregor seems to throw all media-training caution to the wind. As Messina is struggling to provide a longer, spoiler-free answer, McGregor gives him a look before blurting out, "Most likely, yes!" as the final answer. He and Messina immediately start cracking up like two schoolboys who know they've gotten up to mischief. In fact, just as the video cuts, McGregor can be heard admitting that Warner Bros. warned him not to spoil anything for Birds of Prey that night, as it was simply a soundtrack party, and not the big first premiere screening, where press will learn all the details of Birds of Prey, firsthand.

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This soft confirmation that Black Mask and Zsasz have a romance in Birds of Prey shouldn't be surprising to anyone who's followed the film's development. The trailers and TV spots for the movie have had a lot of blink-and-miss-it footage, but within these montages, there have been plenty of visual clues of the following Black Mask/Zsasz subplots:

  • Black Mask has Zsasz as his sadistic and murderous right-hand man and lover
  • Zsasz is dispatched to secure Cassandra Cain and kill Harley and the Birds of Prey, when Cassandra comes under their protection
  • At the end of the second act, the Birds of Prey manage to turn the tables and kill Zsasz
  • When Black Mask learns Zsasz is dead, he has a psychotic break, goes "Full Black Mask" with his skull mask, and comes for a big third-act showdown with the Birds of Prey

Black Mask and/or Zsasz aren't characters tied to or defined by their sexuality, so this change isn't really a big alteration to the core of their characters. Of course, modern fandom being what it is, the debate over "why make this change?" is already starting, as is the corresponding celebration from LGBTQA+ DC fans, who seem to enjoy this rare case of inclusion in a long lineup of movie villains.

Upcoming DC movies include Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) on February 7th, Wonder Woman 1984 on June 5th, The Batman on June 25, 2021, The Suicide Squad on August 6, 2021, Black Adam on December 22, 2021, Shazam! 2 on April 1, 2022, The Flash on July 1, 2022, and Aquaman 2 on December 16, 2022.

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