Warner Bros. has continued its streak of ruining the DCEU with the prized Harley Quinn by wrecking the character’s fate portrayed by Margot Robbie.
While the Marvel Cinematic Universe has had its fair share of strong female characters ranging from Black Widow to Wanda Maximoff, the DC Extended Universe has had zero to none, barring Wonder Woman. Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn was an instant hit with fans but for all the wrong reasons. ‘Birds of Prey‘ presented an opportunity to Warner Bros. to shift the gears on Harley Quinn, after being pestered by Margot Robbie. However, it failed to rise to the occasion.
- Warner Bros. vs Margot Robbie
- Warner Bros. messed up Harley Quinn
MARGOT ROBBIE VS WARNER BROS
Margot Robbie was readily accepted by fans, especially men, as Harley Quinn due to her undeniably emphatic sex appeal. In ‘Suicide Squad’, where she made her DCEU debut, Robbie’s Harley Quinn was covered in the male gaze. Harley Quinn’s craziness was present but the character had no depth or emotional resonance.
Being a strong-headed actress, Margot Robbie pestered and convinced Warner Bros. to greenlight a Harley Quinn spin-off, which would also feature a complimentary “girl gang” that eventually turned out to be ‘Birds of Prey’. Robbie also wanted to ensure that Quinn’s independent, extroverted, and exuberant nature is highlighted in the film. Moreover, she had set her eyes on getting a female perspective for direction and screenwriting.
This sounds like an amazing starting point, right? In this Warner Bros. vs Margot Robbie battle, Warner Bros. did give in to all of Robbie’s demands and announced the project in 2016.
Robbie prepared a screenplay with Christina Hodson, was able to acquire the promising filmmaker Cathy Yan as the director, and create an ensemble of a bold female cast. She also nailed a reinvented version of Harley Quinn as seen in the film. Although Warner Bros. cooperated with Margot Robbie’s vision, it did not live up to its promise of doing course correction with Harley Quinn by messing up the film’s marketing and positioning.
IGNORANT WARNER BROS
‘Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)’ turned out to be a unique achievement in refreshing storytelling that inhabited Harley Quinn’s voice. It did a tremendous job in portraying Harley Quinn as a fierce personality, independent of Joker who re-discovers her identity while taking on a bad guy with the help of equally fierce female heroines. The film is amazing by all means and ticks all the creative boxes. But it did not perform well due to faulty decisions by Warner Bros.
‘Birds of Prey’ was released as an R-rated film and could earn around $200 million, which is a dismal figure for a superhero film. The R-rating was pressed upon by Margot Robbie to which Warner Bros. complied. This led to the film being excluded from the most pertinent demographics of people under 17 years of age and instead appealed the most to adult men, given Harley Quinn’s presence.
While it tussled with other DCEU actors and artists, especially Zack Snyder, Warner Bros. did not put its foot down in front of Margot for the film’s rating. A thoughtfully revised film rating would have done the film many wonders by reaching a wider range of audience.
Basically, Warner Bros. gladly but unnecessarily intervened in many DCEU projects but failed to use its power where it was needed the most.
Perhaps, the mixed audience reception arose since Warner Bros. itself was confused about what expectations to set for the film. Although the film was promoted as the story of Harley Quinn’s “emancipation” as she gangs up with soon-to-be ‘Birds of Prey’ trio Black Canary, the Huntress, and Renee Montoya, the movie’s positioning was all over the place as the fans did not know what exactly to expect. Warner Bros. never positioned the film’s promise properly, whether it would be about Harley Quinn as the lead, women empowerment, or the Birds of Prey gang.
This bewilderment within Warner Bros. was also apparent when it changed the film’s title after its release. The film was retitled ‘Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey’ putting Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn at the centre stage as it should have been from the beginning. Margot Robbie’s pestering played out creatively but Warner Bros. messed up the marketing of a truly unique DCEU film and compromised Margot Robbie’s lead role.
With the upcoming ‘The Suicide Squad’, it will be important to see how it plays out for Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn.
Do you think Warner Bros. could have done better with DCEU’s Harley Quinn? Comment below!