In Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn), Harley Quinn joins forces with Black Canary, Helena Bertinelli, and Renee Montoya to save Cassandra Cain from the sinister Gotham City crime lord Roman Sionis/Black Mask. With the film set in the city synonymous with Batman it's a natural question as to what role, if any, the iconic DC character plays in the film. After all, Batman doesn't have to appear to cast a long shadow when it comes to any and all things Gotham but according to Birds of Prey director Cathy Yan, the film isn't influenced by vigilante. It simply doesn't need to be.
Speaking with ComicBook.com at the film's premiere event, Yan explained that while there is a nod to Bruce Wayne in the film, the reality is that Birds of Prey doesn't see anyone trying to do Batman's job of saving Gotham City. Harley and her squad's focus is a bit smaller in scale.
"Well, there's a little cheeky nod to Bruce Wayne, but no." Yan said when asked if she ever considered a heavier acknowledgement of Batman's presence. "I mean, part of it is that like it was very intentional to keep this kind of out of that, out of the center of power if you will and the stakes of this movie aren't particularly high, but I like that you know? She's not saving Gotham, no one's saving Gotham here, but they are trying to save this little girl and they're trying to take down someone who's trying to take over Gotham but even Roman Sionis, I mean, he is not yet the biggest kingpin - he's trying to be - in all of Gotham so there's this sort of scrappy like almost sort of fringe element, you know aspect of this movie that I really like."
It's Sionis' aspirations that, in a sense, help drive his motivations in terms of his absolutely hatred for Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie). According to Black Mask actor Ewan McGregor, Sionis has to be in absolute control and now that the Joker is out of the picture, Harley being unchained and seeking her own power is a problem for Sionis.
"He has to be in absolute control. He's insane when he's not in control," McGregor recently told GameSpot. "We only see him in his club, in his car, in his apartment - or at the end when he's running around. But really I feel like we only ever see him in places he controls. And then Harley comes into this world and she's uncontrollable. It drives him made. He hates it."
"It plays into the exploration of misogyny in the film," McGregor continued. "He's only ever put up with Harley because she was Joker's girlfriend. So that was the only reason he ever put up with her, because [Joker] was all-powerful. But as soon as [Roman] realizes that Harley's man is out of the picture, she becomes a problem. That makes him a true misogynist. Harley is trying to find her freedom--the emancipation of Harley Quinn, right? She's trying to find her voice. She's not getting her power from her partner anymore."
Birds of Prey also stars Jurnee Smollett-Bell as Black Canary, Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Huntress, Rosie Perez as Renee Montoya, Ella Jay Basco as Cassandra Cain, and Chris Messina as Victor Zsasz.
Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) will be released on February 7th. Other upcoming DC movies include 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.