There’s a swear in this trailer, just as a heads up.
Remember back when I talked about how the actors on DC Universe’s Titans defended their portrayal of the characters to the fans of the actual comic characters? It’s when I started to realize that the actors saw characters they really wanted to portray, had fun making the show, and really didn’t care about the comic books, because comics rank below animation (which they shoved into its own category at the Oscars because actors got butt-hurt that cartoons were getting Best Picture nods) but above video games (they’ve made good comic-adapted movies) in Hollywood’s tier of giving a fig. For exhibit B I give you Margot Robbie, who was so in love with her rendition of Harley Quinn in the much-hated Suicide Squad movie that she talked Warner Brothers into giving her a movie of her own, and the WB as well as Geoff Johns (who they put in charge of fixing the DCEU movies…then blamed him and his partner for the issues with Justice League and sent them off) were convinced she’d be the break out star. She was the only thing folks liked, although her portrayal and the way she was written were not quite a match to the beloved character.
Robbie felt there weren’t enough movies about a “girl gang”, although frankly I’d say we have too many since I don’t care about movies about criminals whatever their gender is. Didn’t they had two of them last year. However, Birds Of Prey (Or The Emancipation Of One Harley Quinn) had two things going against it. One is that it’s a Harley Quinn movie and not a Birds Of Prey movie (and the name was just recently changed–while in theaters no less–to Harley Quinn: Birds Of Prey) and the other is that the movie has terrible renditions of these characters. I haven’t seen the movie so I can’t comment on the quality of the performance or writing; I’m talking about major adaptation errors. Instead she blamed men for not going to see a movie where men are all evil and her team of punk chicks were examples of true femininity, which also didn’t sit well with enough women moviegoers to make up the difference. All we wanted were proper adaptations of the characters. The Birds Of Prey comic, featuring an all-women group of Gotham City heroes, is very well enjoyed, and I liked the TV show despite its own adaptation errors. However, tell me if what you saw in the trailer matches anyone in the descriptions below. I’m betting no.
Cassandra Cain (Batgirl/Black Bat/currently Orphan)
Cassandra Cain is not a character I have a lot of stories of but it’s still the one on this list that irks me the most, especially after Linkara’s multipart retrospective of the character. Even with what little I’ve seen of her I know she was a better Batgirl than the others. Bat-Girl Bette Kane just wanted to get into Robin’s shorts. Barbara Gordon made the identity famous (and dropped the unnecessary hyphen) but she retired to become a Congresswoman before being shot by the Joker. (Everyone forgets that part.) Her best contributions were as Oracle and the lack of a replacement as Oracle is disappointing. Stephanie Brown had already established her own superhero identity as the Spoiler. Going from your own identity to an also-ran bothers me. There are exceptions (Wally West and Bucky Barnes took over for their mentors) but usually if someone ditches the identity they worked hard for just to be another “X” it feels like a step down.
Cassandra didn’t have her own identity. And her story is more tragic and interesting that the thief girl seen in the trailer. Trained by her father to be an assassin, he made her use the parts of the brain that would allow her to understand written and spoken language to instead read the body language of her opponents, turning her into a more successful fighting machine. Beyond the ability to read at least being very important the plan backfired when the still child-age Cass watched her victim die horribly and the experience shocked her into a Man Of Steel moment when she decided she didn’t want to kill anybody. She eventually escaped, took on the Batgirl identity during the “No Man’s Land” storyline, and proved herself as a worthy successor, even impressing Batman early on. Robbie’s version is really lame compared to the more complex and interesting Cassandra of the comics, but that isn’t the kind of story she wanted to make so she grabbed a name of a girl who fights crime in Gotham City and stuffed it in there. It’s insulting to the character and tosses so much potential right out the window.
I can’t speak to the movie version but I hate what DC Comics did to Renee Montoya. They made her a lesbian when she happily married a dude in the cartoon (everyone remembers Harley Quinn came from Batman: The Animated Series but forget she did as well), whatever, I’m talking about how they changed her fun snark into angry sarcasm. Then Gotham comes along and has her steal Jim Gordon’s fiance from him then dump her after one night together because everyone on that show is a horrible person except for Bruce, Jim, maybe Alfred and Selina goes back and forth I guess. I’m not sure what they went with here but I’m not sure how much more damage this movie could do to her than taking a character I really liked and simply making her an angry lesbian.
Huntress (two different versions)
Robbie and the writers of this movie had two interesting ideas to go with. In her original appearance and the New 52 version (one of the few New 52 reworks I liked) Helena Wayne (or Kyle, depending on the version) is the daughter of Batman and the reformed Catwoman on Earth-Two who ended up in the main DC Universe. (That’s a lot of baggage there.) She is trying to live up to her parents’ legacy and was herself Batgirl on Earth-Two 52. This was the version used in the TV series although she traded in the costume for a long leather jacket and no mask because that’s a good idea. (No it isn’t.) They also gave her cat-like superpowers she inherited from her mother who doesn’t have those powers so what was the point? Apparently she didn’t get anything from her daddy. I don’t think that would make sense in this movie and frankly choice number two is the better one anyway. Oddly though in the show Harley Quinn was a villain pretending to be a different therapist.
No, the better incarnation to fit this movie, and I don’t know what they went with, was Helena Bertinelli. the daughter of a mob boss, she was forced to watch her entire family be killed by a rival gang. I’m not sure if she even knew what the family business was since incarnations vary, but if she wants revenge on the mob in the movie, this has to be the version they went with. Bertinelli is an interesting character, and clashing her desire to kill the mob boss responsible for her being an orphan could clash with Cassandra’s not wanting to kill and guilt after what she experienced, making a great character arc for both women. I’ve heard that the big deal was that none of them outshine Robbie’s Harley and if that’s the case (it’s Hollywood, I believe it) but that would make a more interesting arc. Also again, no costume for Helena. Robbie also had this thing about not wanting to bring on the “male gaze” because apparently sexism is a theme in this flick but anybody checking out the teenage girl (Cassandra) is a pervert anyway unless they are themselves a teenager, and Helena’s costume is only “sexy” in so much as she’s in good physical condition by necessity and you’d think a mask would help. Also, where’s her arm crossbow? No costume is bad enough but at least have her signature weapon.
This woman can not get a break in live action. Every TV appearance that wasn’t a cartoon has to change her. I don’t know exactly what she’s like in the Arrowverse but what I’ve seen seems off and if there’s two of them, one of them better be her mom. In the TV version of Birds Of Prey they reduced her to a scarred teenage girl. She’s a martial arts expert trying to form her own legacy apart from her mother who probably doesn’t need her sonic scream to break your bones. Tell me they got something of this right. She’s a founding member of the original incarnation of the Justice League Of America, for Pete’s sake! And yes, she has a sexy outfit beyond the reasoning I gave for Huntress’s outfit but I think she uses that as a distraction.
As for Black Mask and Zzazz…one is a mob boss who never removes his mask and the other would make a better partner for Carnage since they both love killing everything that moves. Making them gay lovers makes even less sense, especially Zzazz. He doesn’t love anyone, he just kills like he needs it to breathe. This movie just from what I know is a failure of adaptation and THAT is why nobody wanted to see it. That and it’s tied to a movie nobody liked, is about evil men and criminal girls (none of which are actually criminals in the source material but she doesn’t care about “dumb comics”), and it doesn’t even look all that interesting as an original concept. I’ve heard blame on the current disease outbreak in China but we shouldn’t be so tied to China in the first place as a US film company. It’s not like they care about pleasing the US market and yet their movies have huge followings in the States. It also might not help that the “R” rating kept younger girls from being able to see the film, which shows that “adults” are still pulling superheroes away from kids. If it wasn’t for the Marvel toons and Disney Jr they wouldn’t have any at all. However you look at it this movie is a bad idea and that’s why it’s not successful.