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It's been a few weeks since Birds of Prey hit theaters, and helped to further expand the DC Extended Universe. Cathy Yan's wild R-rated blockbuster fleshed out the DCEU's version of Gotham City, introducing some exciting femme fatales to the shared universe. Yan took inspiration from DC comics and video games for the adaptation, but it turns out ABC's popular dating show The Bachelor also factored into Birds of Prey's development.
Birds of Prey's journey towards theaters began shortly after Suicide Squad hit theaters, and introduced Margot Robbie's Harley Quinn to moviegoing audiences. Robbie helped to hand pick Cathy Yan to direct the blockbuster, based off her unique vision. That vision actually included a hat top to The Bachelor, which is currently riding on its massively popular 24th season. The director recently explained this, saying:
I put together a sizzle reel. But it was not your typical sizzle reel. Like, scenes from Bachelor proposals, the De Beers diamond commercial, Kim Kardashian’s vampire facial, Fox anchors talking about women, Trump saying ‘Grab ’em by the pussy’ —stuff that might make a girl want to smash the patriarchy.
Talk about a plot twist. While some of Cathy Yan's inspiration came across clear in Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn), I'm not sure any of us expected The Bachelor to factor in. That's showbiz, kid.
Cathy Yan's comments come from a recent interview she did with The New Yorker, breaking down her journey from a relatively unknown filmmaker to blockbuster director. Birds of Prey marks her debut to wider audiences, and she had a unique way at approaching the work for her own superhero movie. Her sizzle reel for the movie didn't include action and pages from the comic book, but current events that might inspire the femme fatales of Gotham to seek their own emancipation-- including reality dating shows.
While not an overtly political movie, Birds of Prey contains plenty of plot points and lines of dialogue that comment on the disparity between the genders, and misogyny/ the patriarchy. The film's villain Roman Sionis/Black Mask is the physical representation of this. He's an embodiment of privilege, toxic masculinity, and fragility; any perceived slight results in Roman taking his revenge in violent ways.
Ahead of its release, Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey (as it was rebranded) was hyped up to be something wholly unique for the superhero genre. The movie definitely brings something new to the table for the DCEU, as well as the genre as a whole. Unfortunately, it failed to over perform at the box office when compared to other blockbusters like Wonder Woman or Aquaman. We'll just have to see if a sequel ends up being green lit, as Birds of Prey's ending surely sets up a few possible spinoffs for its cast of femme fatales.