Joker who? The first 'Birds of Prey' trailer shows off Margot Robbie's 'emancipated' Harley Quinn taking no prisoners

Ethan Alter
Senior Writer, Yahoo Entertainment

Joker, schmoker; all hail the newly emancipated Harley Quinn. After surviving the commercially successful, but critically detested, Suicide Squad, Margot Robbie flies solo — kind of — in Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn), which promises to kick 2020 off with a bang. The just-released first trailer for the film teams Harley up with some of Gotham City’s coolest new heroes, all of whom are making their DC Extended Universe debut. And Jared Leto’s Joker isn’t the only Squad member who is MIA this time around: there’s also no sign of Ben Affleck’s Batman, who hung up his cowl so that Robert Pattinson can eventually make his Dark Knight debut.

“The Joker and I broke up,” Harley says at the beginning of the trailer. “But it turns I wasn’t the only dame in Gotham looking for emancipation.”

Yes, who needs the Caped Crusader or the Clown Prince of Crime when we’ve got the Birds of Prey? Based on the popular comic book title, which has been published on-and-off since the mid-’90s, the movie introduces Harley to mob heiress-turned-vigilante the Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), sonic screamer Black Canary (Jurnee Smollett-Bell) and top cop Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez). Their collective goal is protecting young Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco) from the dual threats of crazed killer Victor Zsasz (Chris Messina) and crime kingpin Roman Sionis aka Black Mask (Ewan McGregor), who seems to believe that Harley Quinn belongs to him since her fall-out with Mr. J. “Here’s the deal, Quinn—you need me,” Roman insists. But Harley’s having none of it. “I’m the one they should be scared of ... because I’m Harley Freakin’ Quinn!” Robbie says in character, kicking off a crescendo of female-empowered ass-kickery that’s scored to Edith Piaf’s “Hymne à l'amour.”

Rosie Perez as Renee Montoya, Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Huntress, Margo Robbie as Harley Quinn, Ella Jay Basco as Cassandra Cain and Jurnee Smollett-Bell as Black Canary in "Birds of Prey." (Photo: Claudette Barius/Warner Bros. Pictures)

Based on the trailer, the real star of Birds of Prey may turn out to be director Cathy Yan. Gleefully departing from the murky cinematography that defined the Zack Snyder-David Ayer era of the DCEU, Yan’s film looks to be a riot of bright colors and kooky humor. Not for nothing, but Harley herself has undergone a similar makeover, sporting a variety of fierce costumes with a ferociously independent attitude to match. Her new look—and the film’s visuals—are resonating big time on Twitter, where none other than former Birds of Prey scribe and all-around comics genius, Gail Simone, led the chorus of praise.

Besides establishing Harley as her own (anti) hero, Birds of Prey heralds a long-overdue revolution in comic book cinema: 2020’s four tentpole superhero movies will all be directed by women. May brings the release of Black Widow’s first solo adventure, helmed by Cate Shortland, while Chloé Zhao will oversee the entry of The Eternals—including stars Angelina Jolie and Salma Hayek—into the Marvel Cinematic Universe in November. And then the year closes out with Wonder Woman 1984, Patty Jenkins’s highly anticipated follow-up to her 2017 blockbuster. You’ve heard that the future is female? Well, that future is about to be right now.

Birds of Prey opens in theaters on Feb. 7.

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