Over the course of the last two years, there’s been a ton of chatter around the question, “When will we see Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn next?” That’s due, in no small part, to her breakout performance in the role in 2016’s Suicide Squad. While the film itself was maligned by critics, and has become somewhat forgotten by fans- who spend their time on films like Man of Steel, Batman v Superman, Wonder Woman, and Justice League when discussing the DCU- her portrayal of Harleen Quinzel stood out as the one big Win for Suicide Squad. Suddenly, we heard rumors of Birds of Prey, Gotham City Sirens, a Joker/Harley team-up, possibly even a fourth Harley vehicle, and- of course- a Suicide Squad sequel.
In recent months, there’s been a ton of movement around one of those projects, and- according to Robbie- it happens to be the one she’s been pulling for all along. And that’s Birds of Prey.
As we reported last month, Cathy Yan was hired to direct the film– which would presumably include the iconic DC trio, as well as Harley Quinn- and the studio was so pleased with Christina Hodson’s work on the Birds of Prey script that they even hired her to write the standalone Batgirl movie.
While out making the rounds to promote her new film Terminal, Robbie has shed some light on all of the different Harley projects that have been in one stage of development or another since late 2016, and she does a good job of separating fact from fiction with regard to which one she’s most invested in.
Firstly, I’d like to call your attention to what she revealed to Moviefone, which is that- of all the rumored Harley Quinn projects- it’s Birds of Prey with Christina Hodson that she’s been actively involved with:
“I want to make a girl gang, R-rated film that Harley is a part of. And we started working on it from there. Meanwhile, over the course of the next few years, the studio was exploring other Harley Quinn spin-offs. But I was not a part of those versions, I was always focused on this one with Christina… I know that they were exploring ‘Gotham City Sirens’ with David Ayer, and I know they were exploring a Joker and Harley Quinn movie, and they were exploring doing I don’t know what else. I wasn’t a part of those. I was focusing on this. I kept presenting it to the studio until they felt it was at a point where they were ready to do it. And now we’re all in.”
That’s a nice clarification, as it shows that her personal process hasn’t been nearly as scattershot as the the studio’s ideas have seemed. While Warner Bros. was busy doing the Project Battle Royale I’ve described in earlier reports, Robbie has had a laser focus on Birds of Prey.
Now, you might have noticed that she referenced making it an R-Rated “girl gang” film. If that’s piqued your curiosity, you’re in luck, because she delved a little deeper on that idea in a chat with Collider. Here’s what she said about her vision for the film when she first pitched it to the studio:
“I pitched the idea of an R-rated girl gang film including Harley, because I was like, ‘Harley needs friends.’ 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.”
It’s interesting to hear her refer to Harley needing “friends,” when you consider that her character- as likable as she is- is a villainess and the Birds of Prey are typically portrayed as heroines. This could imply that the script she’s been working on with Hodson explores some shades of gray, either having Harley go towards the light or possibly making the Birds into characters that are more anti-hero than hero. It also makes you wonder what her relationship with Batgirl will be like, considering rumors late last month that every version of the script features Harley and Batgirl while cycling the other characters in and out.
It should also be said that just because she pitched an R-rated movie two years ago doesn’t mean that Birds of Prey will garner that adult rating. As she indicated, that was just a pitch. Anyone who follows Hollywood knows how much things can evolve after that point, and it remains to be seen if Warner Bros. is interested in releasing an R-rated DC movie at all. As of now, the only time they’ve gone beyond PG-13 was for the Ultimate Edition of the Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice home release. So don’t run around telling people that “Birds of Prey is gonna be Rated R” because until they lock the script and the movie begins filming, there’s no telling what it’ll be.
The above is especially true when you factor in that the studio is trying to go back to its old filmmaker-driven approach, which means that Yan will also have a major say in what Birds of Prey eventually ends up being.
On the subject of Yan, Robbie described how important it was for her to get a female director for Birds of Prey, but that she ultimately just wanted the best person for the job:
“And then of course having a female director to tell that story. And giving a female director the chance to do big budget stuff. They always get ‘Here’s the tiny little film’… I was like, ‘I love action. I love action films. I’m a girl. What, are we meant to only like a specific thing?’ So it was a hugely important to find a female director for this, if possible. But at the end of the day — male, female — the best director gets the job and Cathy was the best director.”
As for what all of this means for movies like Gotham City Sirens and that Joker/Harley movie, the running assumption is that those have now been tossed out as the studio focuses solely on getting Birds of Prey and Gavin O’Connor’s Suicide Squad 2 going in the near future, with Batgirl somewhere off in the distance as well.