Yesterday, the world got treated to its first official looks at Margot Robbie, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Ewan McGregor, Chris Messina, Rosie Perez, and Ella Jay Basco in Birds of Prey (And The Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn). And it was pretty phenomenal, so it got me thinking (and digging).
Between what I already know about the project and what I was told yesterday, I have connected some interesting dots, so I hope you’ll join me on a #TheorySpiral…
See, as I wrote about yesterday, the Birds of Prey materials that were unveiled fall in line with stuff I’ve exclusively shared here. If you’re one of the confused people out there who thinks they somehow debunked what I’ve said, I suggest you read the linked article.
A big part of all this is the status of Harley’s tattoos.
There was a lot of debate and general mystery around the following image, and how it plays into the way Cathy Yan has mellowed out Harley Quinn’s appearance for Birds of Prey:
For many, it’s obvious that this is Harley Quinn, because of the bat and the hair. But for some, the lack of tattoos and of made-up pale skin, as well as the use of a yellow top, meant that it’s actually Smollett-Bell’s Black Canary.
Simply put, it’s Harley. And you don’t have to accept me on my word about that. You can simply examine the hair. It’s length, texture, and color. It does not, in any way, match Canary’s hair:
And while Smollett-Bell may be very fair-skinned, she is not as light as the woman depicted in the mysterious baseball bat shot. So let’s put that to rest right now.
As for why the image itself is so mysterious, with its lack of tats or a shot of her face, and an overall feel that’s a far cry from the Harley we saw in Suicide Squad, it’s all part of the story. And that’s where my theorizing comes in.
When the film received its official title, Birds of Prey (And The Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn), there were a lot of remarks about. From its length, to its cheeky tone, to its implications on the story itself, it created a lot of conversations. But one recurring truth is that this film is about Harley breaking free from The Joker. She’s emancipating herself; Taking back control of her life; And doing away with the mistakes of the past.
And yesterday, while speaking to folks in the know, it came back to me that there was actually a part in the most recent draft of the script where Harley goes and gets her tattoos removed as both a way to cleanse herself of her turbulent past and to give Mister J one final thumb of the nose.
If that’s truly the case- and I’m filing it as a rumor- then that means that yesterday’s 19 second video was more revealing than any of us thought.
While it may have looked, simply, like a cool way to introduce these versions of these characters to the world…that glimpse of Harley with the bat is actually a flash-forward, revealing a bit about her arc as a character. That’s why they didn’t show her face, because they don’t want you to see that just yet.
The more garish, tacky costume we see her in signifies Harley’s BEFORE– as it harks back to how she came off in Suicide Squad:
Where as the more sleek, clean, and streamlined look glimpsed in that shot with the baseball bat signifies Harley’s AFTER, where she’s removed all of the tattoos and has taken more control of her life.
This is my theory, and I’m sticking to it.
And, if true, you really have to give credit to Cathy Yan for finding a way to weave some semblance of a narrative into what seems like a simple collection of cool images, in under 20 seconds.
Lastly, and this is just for fun- not based on any rumors I heard- here’s a neat way I see it playing out:
We all know that Victor Zsasz likes to carve out his Kill Tallies on his skin. What if, for this movie version, he gets them tattooed instead? Or what if he goes to a tattoo artist to “fill in” the marks he carves into his own skin? With that in mind, I could see Harley and Huntress going to his preferred, underworld tattoo artist and pressing him for details on Zsasz’s plans. Maybe Huntress knows that she can use Zsasz as a pressure point to get to Black Mask-her primary target. So they corner the tattoo artist after Victor leaves his latest session, and at the end of the interrogation, Harley looks around at his tools and materials, and asks, “Hey, can you also get them off?” Then we cut to afterward, with some cool music playing as Harley walks out in slow motion without any ink on anymore, feeling liberated.
Yeah, I know. Tattoo removal doesn’t work that way, but it was just a scene I saw in my mind as I dove into my theorizing, and this is a comic book movie, so they have wiggle room to take some creative license. Sue me.
What do you think of my Birds of Prey #TheorySpiral? Let me know in the comments below!