Birds Of Prey’s Director Got Simple, But Helpful Advice From Wonder Woman’s Patty Jenkins

Cassandra Cain, Harley Quinn, Renee Montoya and Huntress in Birds of Prey
(Image credit: (Warner Bros))

Back in 2017, Patty Jenkins made Hollywood history when Wonder Woman became the first woman to make a $100 million-plus movie. The DCEU installment is not only a favorite among superhero fans, but it paved the way for more female-helmed projects. This year, the four major comic book movies hitting theaters are directed by women. It kicks off with Cathy Yan’s Birds of Prey.

The upcoming return of Harley Quinn is only the second project Cathy Yan has directed – and certainly her first action-packed, high-profile movie. Yan recalls looking to Patty for advice with these words:

I had such institutional support from the get go. But at the same time, every day, I remember being very concerned about, like, I’ve never done this before. I actually called up Patty Jenkins during prep and I’m like, ‘What am I doing?’ She told me, ‘You’ve got to remember that no one knows this movie as much as you. That’s what makes you the director.’ And that was really, really helpful.

It couldn’t have been easy to take on the mantle of Birds of Prey without having any opportunity like it beforehand. Cathy Yan had only just found some positive buzz for her first full-length film Dead Pigs back in 2018 when Birds of Prey screenwriter Christina Hodson approached her about taking on the flick. She looked to Patty Jenkins for some inspiration.

It sounds like the Wonder Woman helmer gave Cathy Yan a confidence boost about leading the huge cast and crew of Birds of Prey. She told her to remember her role in the movie and not let other opinions get the best of process. Yan came in with a solid pitch and she saw it through from beginning to end.

Cathy Yan told Variety that she envisioned Birds of Prey mirroring her own personal growth into owning her identity as a major director. The movie follows Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn after breaking up with Jared Leto’s Joker. She finds her own strength without the Clown Prince of Crime holding her back and finds a group of badass women to join her, including Huntress, Black Canary, Cassandra Cain and Detective Renee Montoya.

Margot Robbie, who is also a producer on Birds of Prey recently explained why Cathy Yan was the perfect director for the job. Here’s what she said:

She spoke to the aesthetic color palette, how she wanted to shoot action, how she wanted costume design to be reflective of the characters’ personalities. It was perfect.

The director will also introduce a more “heightened” and “colorful” Gotham City seen through the eyes of Harley Quinn. Birds of Prey was set to be R-rated from the start, due to Harley Quinn’s inability to hold back. It allowed Yan to shoot more unabashed fighting sequences and the cast was given the freedom to improv curse words into the dialogue.

Birds of Prey hits theaters on February 7. Stay tuned here on CinemaBlend to see if it shakes out to be a success.

Sarah El-Mahmoud
Staff Writer

Sarah El-Mahmoud has been with CinemaBlend since 2018 after graduating from Cal State Fullerton with a degree in Journalism. In college, she was the Managing Editor of the award-winning college paper, The Daily Titan, where she specialized in writing/editing long-form features, profiles and arts & entertainment coverage, including her first run-in with movie reporting, with a phone interview with Guillermo del Toro for Best Picture winner, The Shape of Water. Now she's into covering YA television and movies, and plenty of horror. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.