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The comic book movie genre has been largely dominated by Marvel throughout the past decade, with DC attempting to ride its coattails, but often failing in the process. Unlike the MCU which has been carefully curated by Kevin Fiege, who ensures that every piece of the puzzle neatly falls in place, it was clear early on that DC weren’t nearly as organized. This can be confirmed by the jarring tonal switches the cinematic universe has undergone since its conception. What started off as a grittier and more self serious counterpart to the MCU, has become increasingly more tongue and cheek as of late.
Birds of Prey is the latest addition to the DCEU lineup and it’s significant for a number of reasons. It’s the first film within a comic book related cinematic universe to receive an R-rating, despite its direct predecessors sticking within the PG-13 boundaries. This opens limitless possibilities for both the MCU and DCEU to incorporate darker characters and storylines into their respective cinematic universes. Additionally, it’s the first female lead anti-hero/villain move in this era of the genre.
Despite the worthy contributions it’s ultimately making to the superhero genre, Birds of Prey isn’t nearly as special in execution. It’s an overblown mess that succeeds in terms of visuals and action sequences, but falters in the areas that matter the most.
Undoubtedly, the greatest aspect of the film is Margot Robbie’s high-energy performance as Harley Quinn. She stole the show in Suicide Squad and in Birds of Prey, she ramps up the energy and almost singlehandedly keeps the film from falling apart. It’s clear that she has great affection for this character and she’s having as much fun with the role as she possibly can. Harley Quinn is already a widely recognizable villain, but Margot’s performance could go down as the definitive portrayal of the character.