Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) star and producer Margot Robbie made a "conscious choice" to go no contact with Harley's ex, the Joker (Jared Leto), and instead put the focus on Harley's makeshift "girl gang": Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), Black Canary (Jurnee Smollett-Bell), Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez), and Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco). Because a since-cancelled Joker and Harley-focused spinoff movie was put into development after the blockbuster success of Suicide Squad, a period in which Harley was "completely consumed in Joker," Robbie said it had to be "all or nothing" when it came to the involvement of Harley's "Mistah J" in Birds of Prey.
"It was either going to be a complete Harley and Joker story or Joker has got to be out of the picture," Robbie said during a press event attended by ComicBook.com. "I really wanted to see Harley in a girl gang and I felt there was a huge gap in the market for a girl gang ensemble action film. I felt like no one was doing that and I couldn't understand why, especially a comic book movie."
When Birds of Prey kicks off, Harley has severed ties with her abusive ex-boyfriend, who doesn't appear at all in the Harley-centric film.
"From the very beginning it was a conscious choice of they have to be broken up at this stage," Robbie said. "I have a whole backstory in my head [of] what's happened between what you saw at the end of Suicide Squad and what you see at the beginning of Birds of Prey." Ultimately, Robbie added, that's "a rocky road."
Enter Roman Sionis (Ewan McGregor), a narcissistic and eccentric criminal better known as Black Mask. In Birds of Prey, each member of Harley's girl gang has a problem with the mask-wearing crime lord.
"Each of them has such a personal reason why they don't like him and why he doesn't like them," screenwriter Christina Hodson said. "That natural kind of antagonism with each of them feels personal and grounded rather than feeling like, 'I'm going to blow up the world,' big Machiavellian-like mustache-twirling. And that felt so right in this world."
You ever hear the one about the cop, the songbird, the psycho and the mafia princess? Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) is a twisted tale told by Harley herself, as only Harley can tell it. When Gotham’s most nefariously narcissistic villain, Roman Sionis, and his zealous right-hand, Zsasz, put a target on a young girl named Cass, the city is turned upside down looking for her. Harley, Huntress, Black Canary and Renee Montoya’s paths collide, and the unlikely foursome have no choice but to team up to take Roman down.
Birds of Prey opens February 7.