Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn (2020)

A couple of years ago I was ready to write off the future of the DC Extended Universe. Since then, though, we’ve seen the franchise birth a goofy kids’ horror-comedy (Shazam!), a dark social drama (Joker), and now Birds of Prey: a restlessly fun, unapologetically female action-comedy proving that comic book movies can be anything you want them to be.

Margot Robbie returns as Harley Quinn – introduced in the anaemic Suicide Squad – now sans Squad and, especially, absent one “Mr J.” Her anarchic, live-wire energy is again ably embodied by Robbie, but this time that vitality is shared with the film proper. Taking a leaf from Deadpool – what with the gory violence and fourth-wall breaking – Birds of Prey is far more entertaining. That’s in large part to its black comedy relying on something other than stale references to other superhero films, but the innovative, well-choreographed action sequences, bursts of kaleidoscopic colour and Ewan McGregor’s campy performance are all big factors.

Its best attribute is how – in an era where these films’ politics are oh-so-focus-grouped – is how hard brazenly it boasts its feminist spirit. You don’t usually see hair-ties and tampons in superhero films; Birds of Prey boldly bucks the trend.

4 stars

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