Tuesday, 11 February 2020
Birds of Prey (and the ridiculous judgement of female led films)
When it was announced that there would be a sequel to Suicide Squad, most were deterred as this possiblely meant that we'd have to sit through a 2 hour film where Jared Leto method acts again but luckily that was squashed. A film about Harley Quin on the other hand would be new, fresh and a rare things amoungst the male dominated superhero genre. With only 'Wonder Woman' to date carrying the would be DC comic franchise, holding the torch for female fronted films of this nature, DC really needed to step up. Especially as all they had to offer was a sequel. Suicide Squad could boast three female heroines/villains in their line up; (not including Amanda Waller) Enchantress (killed off), Katana (deserved better, maybe more screen time?) and Harley Quinn (dressed in very overly sexual outfits throughout). So, it was time for something extra and something more than what was offered.
Enter Margo Robbie, not just as Quinn, but as one of the producers of 'Birds of Prey', also enter Cathy Yan, director. Although not as seasoned as previous choices for previous films, she's has a smart wit and hell, she was ready for a challenge, so it seemed. BUT seeing Birds of Prey as a 'challenge' just meant that, male directors either weren't interested or weren't approached. I hoping it was the latter. Yan is fantastic. She's created a superhero genre film that not only fits into the greater universe in big and small ways but it also extends past the stereotypical genre expectations. There are plenty of jokes about the 80s cop dramas but that's really what it is. Its a crime drama with a superhero comicbook flare that works so darn well, its immensely pleasing to see such a great blend. Not only does it sound and look amazing but the fact that there are five characters' stories woven into the story and doesn't become convoluted, or confuse or infuriate, it is a smooth and ridiculously fun ride from start to finish. I honestly cannot point out anything that is not needed or doesn't feel right and I'm not Robbie's biggest fan. But she is fantastic in this. The title does only make sense by the end (but who cares, plenty of other films do the same) and the rest of the title, that is played out to perfection, again, without being overbearing in anyway. Screen time is even shared out equally between characters. This brings me to my confusion as to why the film is hated by some audiences. And sorry but the evidence is damning, it is mostly guys.
From what I've read, women either don't care enough to get into a fight about this or they LOVE the film. But the guys, they hate it, not with passion, but with pathetic generalisations. From the tweets saying Huntress doesn't look hot enough, from the box office reporting that this is worst DC has had ever (really? want to check the BOR for Suicide Squad? or Green Lantern? No?) Other films that were actually terrible such as.... well any other DC film apart from Wonder Woman were panned by everyone, not just critics, yet more films were still made. It seems the bar was set ever so much higher for a female led film. This ridiculous behaviour was happening in 2016 and its just getting worse. There's actually a moment in the film where Quinn is trying to guess why she has annoyed Black Mask and one of the guesses is just because she has a vagina. I think with that she knew why guys didn't or wouldn't like the film.
With the film now getting a crap name change because the great title is not good enough and people are too dumb to recognise actors, feels like another nail in the coffin that is equality. BOR rule the cinemas, but the fact that the film made a big profit doesn't seem to enter anyone's minds. If it didn't hit the highest bar there is, its no good. Female led films are not a niche element to a film, its just part of it. Hell, I even still have to tag my posts if there are female filmmakers attached. I really don't understand why guys don't like watching films with female leads, especally when they aren't dressed in a hideous male gaze wanting outfit, I really don't get the guys who say female fronted films are just bad when they aren't. The worst films made in history were made by men, but no one wants to talk about that. Women have to work twice as hard that men for recognition, not an opinion, that's an actual fact.
Its only February and Birds of Prey is definitely going to be one of the best films of the year by the end but some male dominated crud will come out and 'top' it, but won't in fact top it. If you haven't seen it yet, go watch it, see for yourself what a film made by a brilliant director, starring five fantastic actors with a story that is both thrilling and satisfying really looks like.