In 2016’s Suicide Squad, Margot Robbie’s antihero Harley Quinn stole the show hook, line and sinker from her villainous DC cohorts. No mean feat considering the presence of Will Smith’s Deadshot and Jared Leto’s Joker. With a mouthful of Hubba Bubba and baseball bat in hand, Robbie made an icon of Harley Quinn, inspiring cosplay choices, hair dye hues and dubious New York accents the world over.
And while the other Squaders have gone their separate ways, Quinn is now being treated to her much-deserved spin-off movie – with a fantastically ridiculous title to boot. Directed by Cathy Yan, Birds of Prey (And The Fantabulous Emancipation Of One Harley Quinn) is ready to hijack the box office this February – and this time, Harley’s got a whole new flock of friends to play with. With potential spoilers, let’s take a look at the Birds of Prey.
1. Helena Bertinelli aka Huntress
Helena Bertinelli/Huntress is a hero who always hits a bull’s eye with her crossbow, although Birds of Prey actor Mary Elizabeth Winstead ditches the cape and cowl of her comic book incarnation.
Huntress’s mission to take down organised crime in Gotham City is the result of a Mafia hit on her family, but her methods sometimes cross over into the suspect. Reminiscent of another certain vigilante, perhaps? That’s because Bertinelli was hugely influenced by none other than Batman himself.
Winstead is no doubt most famous for her role as Ramona Flowers in Edgar Wright’s candy-coloured, frenetic Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. In the movie, her new beau Scott (Michael Cera) has to battle Ramona’s seven evil exes to win her heart. Said exes come in the form of comic book legends Brie Larson, Chris Evans and Brandon Routh.
Winstead has also fought her way out of captivity in the riveting thriller 10 Cloverfield Lane and took on Kurt Russell’s maniacal stunt driver in Quentin Tarantino’s Death Proof. Something tells us she can handle what Gotham’s got to offer.
2. Dinah Lance aka Black Canary
Born and raised within a family of crime fighters, DC character Black Canary is able to emit a sonic scream known as the Canary Cry, which causes all sorts of issues for any enemies within earshot. In Birds of Prey, Black Canary (Jurnee Smolett-Bell) is bound to cause an earache for Ewan McGregor’s villainous Black Mask, against whom the Birds are pitted.
Smollett-Bell is best known for small-screen roles in TV hits such as ER and Grey’s Anatomy, as well as the hugely successful and award-winning Friday Night Lights. Birds of Prey will no doubt set her soaring (sorry), before we see her again in Bad Robot’s series, Lovecraft Country.
3. Renee Montoya
As per the DC comics, Renee Montoya is often aligned with Commissioner Gordon and The Dark Knight – all the while skirting the very edge of the law. A detective in the Gotham City Police Department, Montoya has, throughout her comic book history, reigned in some of Batman’s more brutal behaviour, and famously taken down comic book criminal Mr. Zsasz, who is also set to appear in Birds of Prey (played by Chris Messina).
In the comics, Montoya eventually takes over the mantel of superhero The Question, continuing the masked vigilante’s fight against crime, but whether we get to see this transformation take place on the screen remains to be seen.
Actor Rosie Perez has enjoyed a 30-year career in Hollywood, making her memorable debut in Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing before following it up with White Men Can't Jump. She later landed an Oscar nomination for her performance in Peter Weir’s powerful Fearless, starring opposite Jeff Bridges. She’s also appeared in Frasier and Family Guy spin-off The Cleveland Show.
4. Cassandra Cain
In the comic books, Cassandra Cain eventually suits up as Batgirl. Raised by her assassin parents, Cain is taught to read and communicate via body language and gestures, rather than using speech, and becomes a deadly, efficient assassin in the process. Finally realising that murder is a big no-no, Cain runs away from her family before eventually being taken under the wing of Barbara Gordon, effectively becoming Batman’s adopted daughter.
Again, whether that transformation comes to fruition in the Birds of Prey movie remains to be seen. Talking of pressure, Cain is portrayed by Ella Jay Basco, who makes her feature film debut alongside Robbie and co. So far, her TV performances have included Armando Iannucci’s award-winning political comedy Veep, the US version of Teachers and Grey’s Anatomy.
5. Harley Quinn
The former psychiatrist and twisted love interest of the Joker, Harley Quinn has gone on to carve out her own niche in the world of comic book super-villainy.
Wielding an over-sized mallet as her weapon of choice (this is sometimes swapped with a customized baseball bat in the films), she has a penchant for pet hyenas and a proclivity for committing crime. But that doesn’t mean that she’s not willing to turn her talents against those who cross her, whichever side of the law they’re on. With a sky-high IQ, surprising strength and fighting skill, this is one dame you shouldn’t back into a corner. (However, one refers to her as a dame with extreme caution.) And now that she's free of her destructive relationship with the Joker, Harley can be unleashed like never before.
Margot Robbie’s appearance in Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street saw her shoot straight onto the A-list; the former Neighbours actor was fiercely convincing as Leonardo DiCaprio’s on-screen wife, Naomi. Robbie has since been Oscar-nominated for her stirring lead performance in the biographical drama I, Tonya, as well as this year’s empowering Fox news expose Bombshell. Recently, she’s also been BAFTA nominated for her performance as Sharon Tate in Quentin Tarantino’s controversial Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.
Birds of Prey (And The Fantabulous Emancipation Of One Harley Quinn) lands in Cineworld cinemas on the 7th of February. Once you’ve experienced the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn, let us know your thoughts by tweeting us at @Cineworld.
Robb Sheppard is a writer who blogs for Cineworld as part of our news team. Follow him on Twitter.