With Birds of Prey( and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn ), DC has finally achieved what it failed to do with Suicide Squad. The latest DC Extended Universe movie is essentially a solo outing for Harley Quinn, with the eponymous team constitute in the background to her non-chronological breakup with the Joker. It is, virtually, a rascal movie that pushes the protagonists to the background.

Villains have always been an essential part of DC Comics modification, especially those involving their pride and joy. Batman 1966 enjoyed in its revolving door of actors hamming it up, and the Burton/ Schumacher era yielded Jack Nicholson and Arnold Schwarzenegger top billing above their respective Bruce Waynes. It was as Joker that Heath Ledger won the superhero genre’s to-date merely behaving Oscar( pending Joaquin Phoenix’s win for the same role in Joker at the 92 nd Academy Awards ). Conversely, one major sticking point in the coming of the MCU was its lack of indeed impactful villains. If there was an undisputed advantage to DC, it was the baddies.

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Naturally, it was only a matter of time before DC Films vanished all in and made a movie about the criminals. That movie was Suicide Squad, an adaptation of the comics that forcibly merged scoundrels( mostly from Batman’s rogue’s gallery) against some greatest threat. Even though it is secreted to business( and gifts) success, it exists with a principally darkened legacy.

Now, four years later, DC has delivered on that promise. Joker, the standalone origin story for the specific characteristics, transcended its position as a comic book adaptation to become the honors season’s most contentious entry and going on to gross over$ 1 billion at the worldwide box office, a first for an R-rated film. And now Chick of Prey continues the journey of the standout persona from Suicide Squad, in the process showing how to get it right.

Before looking at how Chicks of Prey advanced, it’s essential to take a step back and assess what Suicide Squad was trying to be. And, like the Joker’s origin, the answer is various choice.

David Ayer’s film came together as part of the burgeoning DCEU, releasing as the third entry of the Zack Snyder-led franchise after Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. At this object, the DC mood was one of gloom realism, and the initial predict for Suicide Squad of something very much in the Snyderverse: as gritty and grimy as Superman, if perhaps not quite the same level of brooding. But the official trailers( as opposed to the SDCC First Look which simply released online following Hall H seeps) shifted paraphernaliums, with neon-glow footage meticulously-edited to Queen’s pumping Bohemian Rhapsody and Sweet’s raving Ballroom Blitz.

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The finished cinema nakedly showed the marketing’s identity conflict, with the two vogues promptly chopped between – and not by coincidence. As was slowly revealed in trade reports, the immensely positive reaction to the trailers( in contrast to the highly divisive release of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice that March) led to Warner Bros. offering Trailer Park an opportunity to provide a full revise of the cinema more in-line with the marketing’s style than what was currently being worked on by the director. The solution was a movie made to be one thing, retrofitted with a few reshoots and atrocious editing into being something else entirely.

The extent to which Ayer’s movie was or wasn’t planned to be a tonal mashup is unclear, but the trailer narrative makes clear what Warner Bros. demanded when it dropped in August 2016. They wanted to have the zany-commercialist pop-punk sensibilities of Guardians of the Galaxy with an added edge to stand out further. The joke was to take a team of unlikable supporting reputations and turn them into their own icons comparable to Rocket or Groot. Unfortunately, that was reduced to aggressive bickering and surface-level compassion.

It wasn’t just about allowing audiences to embrace this one movie. What Suicide Squad was ultimately supposed to lead to was universe expansion: spinoffs, sequels and other studio buzzwords. In the lead-up and wake of its release, solo movies for the likes of Will Smith’s Deadshot, Jai Courtney’s Boomerang and Jared Leto’s grilled Joker were all supposedly in early evolution. DC knew that villains were their strongest asset – especially as, by this level, Justice League was beginning its own movie-ruining retrofit – and they were going to go all-in. The question, of course, was the poor foundations.

Which produces us to Chicks of Prey. It is, essentially, a Suicide Squad spinoff for Harley Quinn. The floor picks up where the last film left off with her parting methods with Mr. J, obligates numerou acknowledgments to the importance of her time in Task Force X and even quits including references to a couple of the key players.

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Yet it’s likewise a hard abandonment of what that movie did. The gangsta Jared Leto Joker is replaced with a generic animation more in-line with the Batman: The Animated Series design and an obscured stand-in, leaving it very open for a straight-up recast in a future movie. More strikingly, the entire excursion for Harley Quinn and the rest of the Fledglings refuting their status as cronies, their entire reputation defined by their relationships to lovers, in turn locking onto this movie’s highly status as a spinoff.

It’s an superb offset. Fowls of Prey resolves up feeling like a cohesive part of the DCEU as originally characterized, more is alone unbeholden to it; a skillful storytelling offset that can appease all sides of the fandom while not hurting the cinema. In contrast to the aggressive course correction of Justice League or Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker( which both consume more term not being their precedes that defining their own story) or extremely owed obligation to the original as with Solo: A Star Wars Story or The Conjuring’s Annabelle and The Nun, that’s unhappily a rare achievement.

When taken on those calls, the Suicide Squad joinings of interest in Birds of Prey are less the shared cosmo cooperation and more the shared targets. Cathy Yan’s movie is a grounded-yet-vibrant presentation of Gotham where colorful reimaginings of comic book personas fight through the world to a purpose-built pop soundtrack, ultimately hoping to jump off in a variety of yet-to-be-defined story directions. And, in contrast to what came before, it hammers it.

Much of the success centers on Harley Quinn. Margot Robbie was a standout in Suicide Squad, but was suffocated between the Leto Joker clutter and an undefined crew dynamic. Making her the make of a Birds of Prey film may not be comic-accurate( and commits Oracle a real short shrift ), but it allows for a clear primary focus that affords a strong throughline and anchoring to the myriad of relationships in the ensemble. Destinations and personality are clear, and each interaction frisks off them, rather than a restrictive setup. It’s imaginable for there to be a Birds of Prey 2 that uses Huntress, Black Canary and Renee Montoya in an adventure that circumvents Harley Quinn for Batgirl or another icon.

Related: Everything We Know About Birds Of Prey 2

There’s even an exaggerated villain who slots in perfectly. Reimagining the Clown Prince of Crime as a grilled crook, Suicide Squad sloped Joker as a wild card in the movie, but despite renown in the marketing and a batch of method acting horror floors about Jared Leto in the markets, the role was ultimately chopped down to a Harley Quinn-powering cameo, stimulating the off-type performance all the more frustrating. There’s startling similarity to the camp of Ewan McGregor’s Roman Silonis, expect in being the primary opposition he’s able to tie the whole story together( itself a stark differentiate to Enchantress’ limited connection to the Suicide Squad outside of Rick Flag ).

This, in turn, enables a careful tonal offset. Chicks of Prey is funny and contemptuou but knows exactly when to be sincere or increase the threat. It’s constantly aware of what it’s trying to be, making itself exclusively as earnestly as needed. Yan can have Harley Quinn gleaming at the camera or picture the slow-motion destruction of a delectable breakfast sandwich, then step into feelings pulsates about coping with trauma or the sudden thrill of Dinah Lance employing a Canary Cry. The imagination and the real, the theatre and the comedy – everything that baffled with Suicide Squad feels purposeful and clear in Birds of Prey.

The quality of the movie is just half of the box. Will Birds of Prey lead to the sub-franchise Suicide Squad was angling for? And the responses to that question is the key.

On its own, there’s potential. Birds of Prey’s box office juttings have been slowly snaking upwards, and with a lower plan that manufactures its eventual success a bazaar lock. Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn is one of the DCEU’s numerou perfect castings, and the question isn’t if she’ll return( she’s previously fortified for The Suicide Squad in 2021) but which franchise name she’ll be leading next( Gotham City Sirens, Birds of Prey 2 or a solo movie are all possible ). And there’s fairly ebullience for the rest of the team to expand this nook of Gotham into its own thing.

But, in truth, what’s next isn’t dependent on Birds of Prey. Joker is already a big hit, next year identifies James Gunn’s soft reboot The Suicide Squad apply a Silver Age approach, 2021 ends with Dwayne Johnson finally becoming Black Adam, and Aquaman’s The Trench are set to get a horror-tinged spinoff. DC’s villain-as-lead future, that innate paragon of Suicide Squad, is already here. And that’s what really allowed Chicks of Prey to deliver.

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The early DCEU was overshadowed by a sense that Warner Bros. had to catch up to Marvel, and both Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad were jam-pack with canon considerations and sequel setup in the belief it would build audience connection to the point they weighed down the story; those weren’t either film’s fundamental breach, but they saw their failure’s all the more seismic. Since then, the DC movies that have best play-act are those without the value of a studio’s biggest right on their shoulders: Wonder Woman, Aquaman and Shazam! were ostensibly standalone, and thus operated on a clearer, more focused manner. Chicks of Prey participates those ranks, thumping the mark Suicide Squad missed by virtue of being able to be itself.

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Read more: screenrant.com