'Birds of Prey': In Defense of the 'Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn' Subtitle

DC's Birds of Prey film recently got a major update, and some would argue that it's a blessing in disguise.

In an Instagram post last week, Margot Robbie shared a photo of the film's title script page, which was adorned with some Harley Quinn-esque doodles and lipstick markings. As The Hollywood Reporter confirmed soon after, those doodles actually revealed the film's full title: Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn).

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Sure, the title might have received a bit of backlash, and quickly became a meme of sorts. Some quickly considered the title to be too wordy, too silly, and another misfire within the world of the DC Extended Universe. But there's a chance that that that negativity is missing the point -- and that "The Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn" could be a pretty good fit for Birds of Prey.

It Clearly Sets a Tone

As wordy as the Birds of Prey subtitle is, it seems to do a pretty good job of conveying the film's plot, based off of information that has already come out. The film is expected to see Harley getting over with her break-up with The Joker (Jared Leto), something that justifies her joining up with Black Canary (Jurnee Smolett-Bell), Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), and Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez).

While it's unclear exactly how Harley's "fantabulous emancipation" will unfold, the subtitle makes it clear that she will get to operate as her own character. Considering the mixed response to Harley and Joker's relationship in the theatrical Suicide Squad cut - as well as the news of a spinoff about the pair being in development - some DC fans will probably see this subtitle as a pleasant surprise.

Even Paul Dini, who co-created the Harley Quinn character, likes the tone that the title is already setting.

"I love the new movie title because I often have Harley scribble nonsense and wacky thoughts all over things, like her therapist's pad, or my introduction to the Sirens book," Dini wrote on social media late last week. "So this subtitle reads as classic Quinnsanity to me."

It's Something New

Yes, the full Birds of Prey title might read like a Fall Out Boy song or a lost Harry Potter novel, especially when compared to the other entries in the comic book genre. But is that a bad thing?

More and more comic book movies are coming out each year, but Birds' full title already gives it the opportunity to stand out. Sure, it's something different from most superhero movie films, which previously just coasted by on relatively simple titles like Iron Man and X2. But at its core, Birds of Prey already is something different, as both the first major superhero movie about an all-female ensemble, as well as the first major superhero movie directed by an Asian woman.

"I pitched the idea of an R-rated girl gang film including Harley, because I was like, 'Harley needs friends.'" Robbie said of the film last year. "Harley loves interacting with people, so don't ever make her do a standalone film. She's got to be with other people, it should be a girl gang. I wasn't seeing enough girl gangs on screen, especially in the action space. So that was always a big part of it."

Plus, everyone is probably just going to refer to the film as Birds of Prey anyway.

The Birds of Prey Brand

Speaking of that, having this title is arguably a case of having your cake and eating it too, with the film using the "Birds of Prey" name without simply titling it Birds of Prey (or retitling it into something even more Harley-centric).

As some argued when the film's roster was first announced, it seemed weird to call the film Birds of Prey, seeing as Barbara Gordon isn't currently among the film's cast. And while it's unclear how exactly the Birds will be founded within the DCEU, this title seems to hint that Harley isn't meant to just be a stand-in for Barbara, and will factor into the team in her own unique way.

This way, general audiences can get their first exposure to what's made the Birds of Prey such a beloved part of the DC Comics world, without erasing the significance of some of the team members who won't be in the film.

The DCEU definitely still has plans for Barbara, with Birds of Prey screenwriter Christina Hodson also penning a Batgirl solo film. Assuming that this first Birds of Prey film does well, it doesn't seem out of the question that Barbara could (and should) eventually join the team. If and when she does, those future films could certainly have a lot of potential titles to choose from, from Birds of Prey to Batgirl and the Birds of Prey and beyond.



Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) will land in theaters on February 7, 2020. Upcoming DC films include Aquaman on December 21st, Shazam on April 5, 2019, Joker on October 10, 2019, and Wonder Woman 1984 on June 5, 2020.