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With the runaway success of Patty Jenkins’ ‘Wonder Woman’ and now early critic reactions pointing to a positive reception to DC’s latest outing, ‘Birds of Prey (And The Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)’, it looks like women are here to save the day once again for the struggling DC Extended Universe (DCEU).

Written by Christina Hodson (who did an incredible job with the ‘Transformers’ prequel movie, ‘Bumblebee’), ‘Birds of Prey’ is the R-rated DC film you didn’t know you needed. Or at least that’s what the cast and crew of the stand-alone film — connected to David Ayer’s ‘Suicide Squad’ only through Harley Quinn’s character — will have you believe.

Buzzing with raw female energy and a colourful palette that’s so very alien to the DCEU, director Cathy Yan’s ‘Birds of Prey’ sees Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn dealing with her break-up with the Joker (played by Jared Leto in ‘Suicide Squad’). Like the rest of us mortals, she does this by surrounding herself with smart, sassy and adventurous women and forming her own “squad” of vigilante women.

Ahead of the film’s release in the UAE on February 6, Gulf News tabloid! puts together everything you need to know.

‘Birds of Prey’ will reclaim Harley Quinn as her own person

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Freed from the clutches of a toxic relationship, Harley Quinn will make herself known to audiences in a whole new light in ‘Birds of Prey’. As she finds herself in the emotional throes of a post-break-up situation, Quinn decides to put Mister J well behind her, and one bad situation after the other, leads to the realisation that her talents could be put to better use. When a young girl/petty thief, Cassandra Cain (played by newcomer Ella Jay Basco), needs protecting after she steals a diamond from a certain Roman Sionis, Quinn pulls together a ragtag crew to save her life and bring down a dangerous criminal.

Along the way, we get to see plenty of soul searching, girl bonding and also get acquainted with Quinn’s pet hyena, Bruce, lovingly named after Bruce Wayne/Batman.

Jared Leto’s Joker will not make an appearance

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Jared Leto gave audiences a Joker unlike anything they’ve ever seen before, really pushing his psychopathic tendencies to the fore, while adopting a rock star persona and fashioning himself as a ladies’ man (Leto is a good-looking guy and no amount of clown make-up was going to hide the fact). Image Credit: Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

Since ‘Birds of Prey’ is very much about Harley Quinn’s reformation and her finally giving the Joker the boot, the makers were sure they weren’t interested in bringing back Jared Leto after his turn as the supervillain in ‘Suicide Squad’.

“Harley is so completely consumed by the Joker,” said Robbie in an interview with Los Angeles Times. “It’s either all or nothing. Either we’re doing a movie about Harley and the Joker or the Joker cannot be there, because if he’s there for even a glimpse that would be her sole focus. So it was really important to kick off the movie with the statement that he’s not in the picture — for better or worse.”

Meet the rest of the squad

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Mary Elizabeth Winstead (‘Scott Pilgrim vs The World’, ‘10 Cloverfield Lane’) plays Huntress — the orphaned daughter of local mobster Franco Bertinelli who becomes a vigilante.

Jurnee Smollet-Bell (‘Friday Night lights’) is Black Canary, a clubroom singer whose superpowers help her produce hypersonic screams.

Also joining the vigilante group is Gotham City Police Detective Renee Montoya, played by the Oscar-nominated Rosie Perez (‘Do the Right Thing’, ‘White Men Can’t Jump).

The bad guys

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Ewan McGregor (‘Star Wars’, ‘Doctor Sleep’) will play popular DC antagonist Black Mask/Roman Sionis. A ruthless club owner, Sionis moonlights as the deranged, maniacal and egotistical crime lord Black Mask.

In an interview with GameSpot, McGregor said about his character: “He has to be in absolute control. He’s insane when he’s not in control. We only see him in his club, in his car, in his apartment — or at the end when he’s running around. But really I feel like we only ever see him in places he controls. And then Harley comes into this world and she’s uncontrollable. It drives him mad. He hates it.”

Chris Messina plays his henchman, Victor Zsasz, a serial killer who carves a tally mark on his skin for each victim he claims.

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Don’t miss it!

‘Birds of Prey (And The Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)’ releases in the UAE on February 6. Watch the trailer below: 

HARLEY QUINN: A HISTORY

One of the most beloved DC anti-heroes, it’s hard to believe that Harley Quinn has only been around for less than three decades. (For context, fan-favourite characters like Batman and Superman have been around for 80 years. So has the Joker.) But for modern audiences, it’s hard to process DC’s rogue’s gallery without the colourful, loony Quinn. It’s even harder to fathom that the character was first introduced in an animated TV show, and was only later picked up by comic books.

Creators Bruce Timm and Paul Dini first introduced Harley Quinn as a throwaway gag in ‘Batman: The Animated Series’ in 1992. Initially only serving as the love-struck girlfriend to Mark Hamill’s iconic Joker, her quirkiness and manic unpredictability quickly took over audience’s imaginations and she was given more screen time as episodes progressed. In 1993, owing to the character’s popularity, DC released a one-shot comic detailing her origin story — ‘The Batman Adventures: Mad Love’ — which went on to win an Eisner Award, and which was also later adapted into an episode on ‘Batman: The Animated Series’.

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But it took until the early 2000s for Harley Quinn to come into her own when it came to comic books, with a 38-issue series published between 2001-2003, where we saw her break off from the Joker, start her own gang, move to Metropolis with Poison Ivy, die, get resurrected and move back to Gotham, only to turn herself into Arkham Asylum after she recognises that she needs help.

In 2009, Harley Quinn saw herself teaming up with Poison Ivy and Catwoman in the series ‘Gotham City Sirens’, not unlike ‘Birds of Prey’, but starkly less-principled we can safely assume.

Further cementing her status as a solo draw was DC’s New 52 rebrand, which saw Quinn get a makeover as well. Apart from a solo series, she was also an integral part of the 2011 ‘Suicide Squad’ relaunch.

Today, Quinn is synonymous with the world of DC and her leading the ‘Birds of Prey’ movie and, hopefully, subsequent projects, under the watchful eye of Margot Robbie should catapult to the quintessential character to further heights.