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Trivia / Birds of Prey (2020)

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  • Acclaimed Flop: Despite the fact that many critics seemed to enjoy the movie and the film has gained a cult audience, its box office numbers were middling, not helped by the COVID-19 Pandemic striking pretty soon after its theatrical release and closing movie theaters worldwide. The movie at least made back its production budget, but it is believed to have done so at a loss when accounting for marketing costs. It’s also perennially at the top of HBO Max's streaming charts and was singled out as one of the most-streamed movies in the service's first year, on top of being successful as an on-demand release, making this a case of Vindicated by Cable.
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  • Approval of God: Gail Simone (who is considered the definitive writer of the team) has been very effusive in her praise for the movie on her social media after seeing it at the press preview, though she, like many, didn't really care for the film's treatment of Cassandra Cain.
  • Awesome, Dear Boy: The whole reason this film exists is that Margot Robbie really loves playing Harley Quinn in the DCEU and wants to bring a lot more female characters from DC Comics to the big screen.
  • The Cast Showoff: Jurnee Smollett does her own singing in the film, though she was hired before the director knew she could sing.
  • Cast the Runner-Up: Mary Elizabeth Winstead was seriously considered for Harley in Suicide Squad (2016) before Margot Robbie was cast. She ended up being cast as Huntress. She was also considered for Lois Lane.
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  • Content Leak: A high definition version of the teaser that was supposed to only play in theaters before It: Chapter Two screenings was leaked in early September 2019. It was first leaked in Russian and then in English.
  • Creator Backlash: Ewan McGregor wished that he had more screen time with the mask on since he wanted to be more scary.
  • Deleted Scene: A BTS moment had Harley and Joker (a Fake Shemp, not Jared Leto) arguing from a distance through a window on the first floor of the Joker's house. Harley leaves the house through the window and the Joker throws her stuffed beaver out through the window as well. In the film proper, she's just kicked out of the house, with no shot of Mr. J.
  • Doing It for the Art: This movie happened because Margot Robbie really, really wanted it to happen. She co-funded it with her own production company, and she's gone out of her way to make it a lower budget movie starring a cast of Action Girls. She even hired a female director and screenwriter to make it. On Smollett-Bell's request, she also hired a Black hairstylist to ensure Dinah Lance's hair turned out good.
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  • Dueling Works: With Charlie's Angels (2019). The two films are came out within three months of each other, star an Amazon Brigade, were written and directed by women, and feature a song by Lana Del Rey. Charlie's Angels generated mixed reviews and was a bona fide Box Office Bomb, having failed to recoup its budget domestically. Birds of Prey got positive reviews and opened higher than Charlie's Angels' entire domestic run ($17 million), albeit still well below expectations.
  • Executive Meddling:
    • To what extent is unknown, but Cathy Yan revealed that the studio required her to compromise some aspects of the film, such as the "Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend"-like dance number dreamed by Harley, the length of which was reduced.
    • A now-deleted twitter thread confirmed that Cassandra Cain was originally going to be more faithful to the original comics but for some reason, the studio wouldn't allow it.
  • Fake American:
    • The Aussie Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn, just like before.
    • We also have native Scot Ewan McGregor playing Black Mask, who is typically depicted as Italian-American (and has a French middle name here).
  • Fan Nickname: Similar to the treatment of "Zilla" from the 1998 Godzilla film, fans of the comic-version of Cassandra Cain have started referring to her film counterpart as "Kassandra Kain" to make her more distinct and separate from the original.
  • God Never Said That:
    • Prior to the members of the team (Black Canary, Huntress, and Cassandra) being confirmed, there was a misconception that Harley was on the team, even though no one involved with the project specifically said that. Though given the film's title and Harley being the main character, it was hardly unreasonable for people to assume such. Ultimately, she does take part in the Origin Story of the team but departs before it is formally established.
    • In August 2019, there were rumors coming out of a test screening that in that version of the film, the diamond that Cassandra stole contained intimate pictures of Black Mask meant for Zsasz and they were explicitly a couple. These were just rumors spun out of a misreading of the original script, in which the photos were actually of a statue of Roman as Michelangelo's David. They all agreed the joke just didn’t work and therefore it was cut. In the theatrical cut of the film the diamond has bank account information. However, that hasn't stopped a few people calling the film out for "queerbaiting" note . No one involved with the project ever said anything about the two of them being gay, the story was based on largely unsubstantiated rumors, and the film wasn't ever marketed for such. Renee's sexuality is treated as no big deal in the film (Ali Wong plays her ex) and wasn't ever brought up in the marketing.
  • Inspiration Nod: In the background of one scene featuring Renee Montoya is a brief shot of a TV playing an old episode of Days of Our Lives. It features the sequence in the show in which Arleen Sorkin's character, Calliope Jones, dresses up as a clown, which was the original inspiration for the character of Harley Quinn and what landed Sorkin the role as the original Harley in Batman: The Animated Series.
  • Never Work with Children or Animals: The original idea for Bruce was to use a real hyena, but even domesticated hyenas are hard to work with. So a German Shepherd was used as stand-in for Motion Capture instead. In Margot Robbie's own words:
    "If this hyena touches anything, it considers it to be his. So we're like, 'Ok can he sit on a couch?' and they're like 'Yes, but then it's his couch. He will eat it and if someone tries to take him away from it, then he'll eat you.' Yikes. Ok, no a real hyena is a no-go - especially if this is how a TRAINED one operates on set. Talk about a diva. So then what?"
  • No Export for You: Warner Bros. has no plans to release the film in China.
  • The Other Marty: In the Brazilian Portuguese dub, after dubbing half of the film, Iara Riça (the longtime voice of Harley Quinn) quit following arguments with the dub director and announced her retirement. Evie Saide (who did a fairly close voice) took over.
  • Playing Against Type:
    • Mary Elizabeth Winstead rose to fame playing the obligatory girl-next-door in horror movies. Here she plays a serial killer. Also counts as Playing with Character Type, considering her character in Sky High.
    • Daniel Bernhardt, who’s known for playing badass villains, plays Sionis’s driver, who doesn’t have any action scenes, is a sexist thug, is paralysed by Harley, and ultimately gets run over and killed by a van the next morning.
  • Post-Release Retitle: The movie was originally titled Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) (to cash in on the popularity of Margot Robbie's portrayal of Harley). When the movie fizzled at the box office, critics pointed out that it was more of an ensemble film than focusing purely on Harley (as well as being one of the most unwieldy official titles ever), and some theatres began marketing it as Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey. It was retitled Birds of Prey or Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey for home release.
  • Produced by Cast Member: In addition to playing Harley Quinn, Margot Robbie is also one of the film's producers.
  • Recycled Script: The subplot where Harley has to babysit Cassandra is similar to the story arc Behind Blue Eyes, which is acknowledged as an influence in the DVD "Bird's Eye View" commentary. Like the film, Harley ends up having to watch after a little girl with a secret code (though this time hidden on her retina.) Harley claims at first that the girl means nothing to her, only to start to actually care about her and risks her life to save her multiple times. However, in the film Harley chooses to save Cassandra in the end, while in the comic she still lets Amanda go blind at the end, and is so wracked with guilt after that she willingly goes back to Arkham.
  • Relationship Voice Actor: This is the second time a character played by Ewan McGregor is dubbed in Japan by Toshiyuki Morikawa. Safe to say, this character no longer has the high ground.
  • Release Date Change: One of many early 2020 releases to run short on theaters and thus hit home video sooner, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Role Reprise:
    • In the Latin American Spanish dub, Karla Falcón reprise her role as Harley Quinn from both Suicide Squad and previous adaptations when she appears.
    • The same goes in the Japanese dub, as Kanako Toujou returns as Harley as well.
  • Serendipity Writes the Plot: Harley only has a single hyena rather than two because the effects for its photorealistic animation were so intensive they could only afford one.
  • Throw It In:
  • Vindicated by Cable: As mentioned above, the movie posted underwhelming box office but saw an increase in attention once it was made available as an on-demand feature and a part of HBO Max. This eventually led to a successful push for a Black Canary spin-off film with the streaming service in mind.
  • What Could Have Been:
  • Word of Gay: Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Jurnee Smollett-Bell have repeatedly teased the idea of Dinah and Helena together. Considering that Smollett-Bell has also said that her performance in the film was based largely on a version of Dinah Lance written by Gail Simone, who stated that she was depicting Dinah as bisexual in 2016note , there's certainly precedent to the concept of Black Canary being with women, at least.
  • Working Title: Fox Force Five.

Assorted Trivia

  • Laura Kinney is considered Cassandra Cain's Alternate Company Equivalent. In 2017's Logan, Laura was presented as an eleven-year-old played by Dafne Keen. Here Cassandra has been aged down to twelve.note  To add another layer of similarity, the stuntwoman who performed Laura's stunts in Logan, Marissa Labog, also worked on this project.
    • Though parts of her origin story (including getting her claws fused with adamantium) depicted in "Innocence Lost" and “Target X” has her depicted closer in age to how she is in Logan, she’s still about 15 by the time she meets Logan in the comics.
  • Ella Jay Basco was so thankful to Margot Robbie for her time on the film that she wrote and recorded a song in character as Cassandra thanking Harley for taking her in.

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