Where's Batman? Is the Joker dead? Your burning 'Birds of Prey' questions answered (spoilers!)

Ethan Alter
Senior Writer, Yahoo Entertainment
Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) and the Birds of Prey take flight. (Photo: Claudette Barius / © Warner Bros. / courtesy Everett Collection)

Warning: This post contains big spoilers for Birds of Prey.

Never mind the Joker, or the Suicide Squad for that matter: Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) lets Margot Robbie’s Cupid of Crime loose on the DC Extended Universe as a solo chaos agent. But she isn’t alone for long: During the course of Cathy Yan’s neon-colored, confetti-covered adventure, Harley accidentally-on-purpose forms a super-group that includes Gotham City vigilantes like songstress Black Canary (Jurnee Smollett-Bell), crossbow enthusiast Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), pickpocket Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco) and fed-up cop Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez). We know you have burning questions about the DCEU’s newest justice league and what it means for Gotham’s future, and we’re here with all the answers.

First things first: Does Harley Quinn really kill Jared Leto’s Mr. J? 

Robbie's Cupid of Crime goes solo in Birds of Prey. (Photo: Warner Bros. / courtesy Everett Collection)

That’s certainly what the internet collectively hoped when the last Birds of Prey trailer featured Harley piloting a gasoline truck into the Ace Chemical plant where their romance began. But the movie makes it clear that this act is more of a symbolic than literal death. Christina Hodson’s script begins with Joker and Harley already heading to Splitsville, with his goons literally slamming the door in her face. It goes without saying that she doesn’t take the break-up well, drowning her sorrows in nights out at the club and nights in guzzling canned cheese. While under the influence of her various vices, she makes the explosive decision to destroy the empty chemical factory, which sends a message to Mr. J, but also announces to the rest of the Gotham underworld that Harley is no longer under Joker protection and is thus fair game for retaliation. 

So Leto could still return as the DCEU’s Clown Prince of Crime?

Robbie as Harley and Jared Leto as the Joker in Suicide Squad. (Photo: Clay Enos / © Warner Bros. /Courtesy Everett Collection)

Unless Joaquin Phoenix’s Arthur Fleck stumbles into a Boom Tube, yes. And while Robbie nixed a Joker cameo in Birds of Prey, Leto does actually appear in Birds of Prey via recycled Suicide Squad footage of Harley taking her swan dive into an Ace chemical vat. The only other Joker sightings are in the animated opening — where he more closely resembles Cesar Romero than Leto — and a quick shot of Harley and Mr. J (glimpsed from behind) forcibly tattooing a Gotham lowlife. Considering the actor’s much-publicized fury at Todd Phillips’s Oscar-nominated Joker movie, and upcoming visit to Sony’s Spider-Man universe, it seems unlikely that Leto will ever play the role again. But there’s no narrative reason why he couldn’t pop up again in, say, James Gunn’s upcoming Suicide Squad sequel. 

Are there any Squad cameos in Birds of Prey

Jai Courtney as Captain Boomerang in Suicide Squad; the character makes a quick appearance in Birds of Prey. (Photo: Clay Enos / © Warner Bros. /Courtesy Everett Collection)

Due in theaters next year, Gunn’s movie is making some major changes to the squad’s original lineup, bringing in actors like Idris Elba, John Cena and Pete Davidson. But it’s important to note that The Suicide Squad isn’t a ground-up reboot: Birds of Prey still treats David Ayer’s 2016 movie as established canon, with Harley handily recapping the plot in two minutes so you don’t have to rewatch all two hours. And Robbie is already slated to return in Gunn’s movie, alongside Viola Davis’s Amanda Waller, Joel Kinnaman’s Rick Flag and Jai Courtney’s Captain Boomerang. Birds of Prey provides a sneak peek at the Harley-Boomerang reunion via a “Wanted” poster hanging in the Gotham police department that shows Courtney’s mug. “Hey, I know that guy,” Harley says as she rampages through the office. 

Does the movie explain why the Bat isn’t keeping tabs on the Birds?

Ben Affleck as Batman in Justice League, the last time he played the Dark Knight. (Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures /Courtesy Everett Collection)

One of the biggest mysteries facing the DCEU right now is how exactly Batfleck gives way to Batpatz. Robert Pattinson officially replaces Ben Affleck in the cape and cowl in Matt Reeves’s currently shooting The Batman, which will open on June 25, 2021. Neither Reeves, nor DC Films, has commented on how that movie fits into the established DCEU and all early signs point to it starting a separate continuity. That doesn’t mean that Affleck is still hanging around this version of Gotham, though. Apart from Harley referencing her Dark Knight-enabled arrest in Suicide Squad, and naming her pet hyena Bruce “after that hunky Wayne guy,” Batman is MIA, and his exact status is never addressed by Gotham’s (anti-) heroes or villains, who otherwise happily go about their nefarious business in Gotham’s notoriously violent East End. We’re just going to assume he’s hanging out in the cafeteria of Philadelphia’s coolest school

Wait, isn’t the Huntress connected to Batman?

Mary Elizabeth Winstead as the Huntress in Birds of Prey. (Photo: Claudette Barius / © Warner Bros. / courtesy Everett Collection)

They do share some of the same DNA… literally. Originally introduced as a Golden Age villain, Huntress became the Bronze Age secret identity of one Helena Wayne — the offspring of Earth-2’s Batman and Catwoman. But then the landmark ’80s series Crisis on Infinite Earths went and wiped out the multiverse (temporarily, anyway), and Helena Wayne became Helena Bertinelli, the daughter of Gotham’s Bertinelli crime family. That’s the version of the character that Winstead plays, complete with tragic origin story: After witnessing her entire clan get wiped out by rival gangsters, she dedicates her life towards vengeance. In the comics, Helena is inspired to create her Huntress alter ego by Batman’s war on crime, but instead of being flattered, he’s routinely reluctant to welcome her into the larger Bat-family. (Her penchant for killing her enemies might have something to do with it.) In contrast, Winstead’s Helena seems to have never heard of the Dark Knight, and would happily shoot a crossbow at his helmeted head if he dares disrespect her. 

And doesn’t Cassandra Cain become Batgirl?

Ella Jay Basco as Cassandra Cain in Birds of Prey. (Photo: Warner Bros. / courtesy Everett Collection)

She’s one of the many to have taken up that mantle, yes. Introduced into comics continuity in the late ’90s, Cassandra was an expertly trained youthful assassin who found redemption, and a new family, by siding with Batman. Basco’s equally young Cassandra doesn’t kill people, but she does happily fleece them with lightning-fast pickpocket moves. That skill gets her in trouble — and kicks the story in motion — when she swipes the Bertinelli family diamond from Victor Zsasz (Chris Messina), psycho sidekick of would-be crime boss, Roman Sionis, a.k.a. Black Mask (Ewan McGregor). Instead of Batman, she finds a new family with Harley Quinn.

Anyone else have a Batman connection?

Chris Messina as Victor Zasz and Ewan McGregor as Black Mask in Birds of Prey. (Photo: Claudette Barius / © Warner Bros. / courtesy Everett Collection)

Renee Montoya was a Bat-friendly member of the GCPD, who later became a vigilante in her own right as a new incarnation of the Question. Perez’s version doesn’t profess an opinion one way or another about Batman, but she does willingly surrender her badge in favor of fighting crime on her own terms by the end of the movie. Meanwhile, both Black Mask and Zsasz have tangled with the Caped Crusader regularly in comic book pages, though not as partners. Their relationship may extend beyond a shared love of crime as well. McGregor and Messina all but confirmed to Variety last month that the duo are lovers: “There’s a want and a need in there,” for sure McGregor said, before just admitting any romantic feelings are “More than likely.” 

Why does Montoya make a point of mentioning Black Canary’s mom?

Jurnee Smollett-Bell as Dinah Lance a.k.a. Black Canary in Birds of Prey. (Photo: Claudette Barius / © Warner Bros. / courtesy Everett Collection)

Starting with Captain America: The First Avenger, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has made a point of telling stories about superheroes past, as well as superheroes present. The DCEU has yet to do the same thing with its timeline, although that’s starting to change. Last year’s Shazam! referenced Black Adam, who wielded the wizard’s power centuries before Billy Batson, and we’ll presumably learn more about his history in the upcoming Black Adam movie, starring Dwayne Johnson. And in Birds of Prey, Montoya reveals that Gotham had a secret superhero in its past: Dinah’s mom. That tracks with comic book continuity, where Dinah Laurel Lance was preceded as Black Canary by Dinah Drake. Sadly, both O.G. super-screamers met tragic ends: Drake died of cancer, while Dinah’s movie mom was the victim gang violence. Montoya uses her memory to persuade Dinah — who has been moonlighting as Roman’s favorite torch singer and chauffeur — to unlock her latent powers for a good cause. It’s Black Canary who saves the day in the climactic battle, using her voice to literally blow away Black Mask’s goons, clearing a path for Harley and Cassandra to blow up the big boss with an always handy hand grenade. 

Is there a post-credits scene?

Harley Quinn and her pet hyena Bruce in Birds of Prey. (Photo: Warner Bros. / courtesy Everett Collection)

There’s not a post-credits scene per se, but there is a post-credits gag. As the final names scroll by, Harley’s voice pipes up through the speakers ribbing the audience Ferris Bueller-style for staying in their seats. “Since you dummies stuck it out this long, I’ll tell you a secret,” she teases. “Did you know that Batman is...” Cue the Warner Bros. logo and Harley is suddenly cut off. She was totally going to say, “Batman is Edward Cullen” wasn’t she?

Will there be a sequel? 

Harley Quinn will be seen again in The Suicide Squad in 2021. (Photo: Claudette Barius / © Warner Bros. / courtesy Everett Collection)

One thing we do know for sure: Harley Quinn will return on Aug. 6, 2021 in The Suicide Squad. That’s why she ditches her new pals at the end of Birds of Prey, hopping into a car with Cassandra and their perfect egg sandwiches bound for parts as-yet unknown. Meanwhile, Renee, Dinah and Helena stay behind in the East End as a crimefighting trio, complete with new outfits and a new sense of purpose. There are certainly more Gotham-based baddies they can fight, including gang leader Lynx, plugged-in tech head Calculator and illusionist Lady Spellbinder. And if Harley can’t make it back to the city in time, there are also more allies who can join their cause, from Manhunter to the Spoiler. If Birds of Prey soars to the top of the box office charts as anticipated, expect a second flight.

Birds of Prey is playing in theaters now; visit Fandango for showtime and ticket information.

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