Interview: 'Birds of Prey' Writer on Margot Robbie, Harley Quinn, and Batgirl

Even before the film’s release screenwriter Christina Hodson’s been earning critical raves for her work crafting the story and characters of Bumblebee, the first standalone prequel in the Transformers franchise, and she’s already been exploring some fresh byways within another familiar movie landscape: The DC Universe’s Gotham City.

As the writer behind both Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of Harley Quinn) and the hush-hush big-screen take on Batgirl, Hodson is going to be delivering films featuring some of the most beloved female characters within the greater Bat-mythos, on both sides of the law, and while she had to keep her cards a bit close to the vest, she offered some tantalizing teases to ComicBook.com.

“I love Harley Quinn,” says Hodson of the central character of Birds of Prey, who will once again be played by actress Margot Robbie, who also produces. Actresses Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Jurnee Smollett-Bell round out the team as the Huntress and Black Canary, respectively, with Ewan McGregor as Black Mask and Chris Messina as Mr. Zsasz in the rogues gallery. “I've always loved Harley,” Hodson continues. “I think she is so complicated and nuanced and interesting and is so full of completely opposing qualities.”

“She is incredibly intelligent; she is a psychiatrist, but she's also incredibly silly and immature, and that balance between kind of sanity and madness, fun and frivolity and real intelligence, heart, was such a fun thing to be able play with,” Hodson adds. “Harley takes that to the next level: she’s a little bit of everything, and to be able to write a character like that is amazing. It's such a fun set of crayons to be coloring with. So I love her, but I also love what Margot brought to that character. And working with Margot on the character and on the story for the last three years has been a dream come true really.”

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Hodson says after her experience playing the Joker’s ex in “Suicide Squad,” Robbie has impeccable insight into the character. “[There’s] depth to [Harley],” she says, that Robbie appreciates. ”Despite the superficial side and glitter and shininess, there is a real depth to her. She has a soulfulness and intelligence, and Margot has that. You can see that in her eyes, and not everyone can do that, and not everyone could have brought that Harley to life the way that Margot did.”

The screenwriter is equally excited to shine a spotlight on characters like the Huntress and Black Canary, who after pop culture turns in TV animation and The CW’s Arrowverse are making their big-screen debuts.

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“It's always fun introducing audiences to a new character,” she says. “It's great doing a deep dive into into all the different characters, doing my research on the characters collectively bit also individually and getting to know them a bit more, and then feeling free to go off leash a little bit and do something new and different and bring them to screen in a way that felt right alongside Harley.”

And then there’s Hodson’s hotly anticipated take on Barbara Gordon, a character that’s existed in the mainstream consciousness since she made her simultaneous TV and comic book debut in 1967 but is only now headlining her own solo film. “Oh I'm just super excited about it,” she says. “I can say so little about this one, but I can tell you I'm having so much fun writing her. She is such a great character and so different than Harley. Yeah, I'm having a blast, and I can't tell you any of the things that I'm doing! I'm just excited for her to be holding her own against all the other superheroes.”