Birds of Prey, based on a read of the script by Ewan McGregor, has been frequently called “a feminist film.” Director Cathy Yan revealed her vision for it wasn’t far from that mark. As a matter of fact, she wanted to, in her own words, make girls “want to smash the patriarchy” and display the “worst of modern womanhood.”
Yan, who only directed one other movie before being hired for Birds of Prey (BOP), detailed in a new interview with The New Yorker how she pitched the film to Warner Bros. “I put together a sizzle reel. But it was not your typical sizzle reel.”
Yan says she put together a reel of clips from the ABC reality show The Bachelor, a De Beers commercial, and President Trump’s infamous comments recorded by Access Hollywood.
Yan’s reel played to the tune of a remixed version of “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” – a song Harley sings in the movie, dressed as Marilyn Monroe was in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. She stated:
“Like, scenes from ‘Bachelor’ proposals, the De Beers diamond commercial, Kim Kardashian’s vampire facial, Fox [News] anchors talking about women, Trump saying ‘Grab ’em by the p****’ – stuff that might make a girl want to smash the patriarchy. After I showed the video, there was just silence.”
Screen Rant agreed BOP might inspire girls to “smash the patriarchy,” saying “that feeling definitely made its way into the movie, as the plot follows Harley and the other women fighting back against the dangerous men who control Gotham City.”
Screen Rant added:
“Plus, a large portion of Harley’s story focuses on her “emancipation” from the Joker, whom she has just broken up with. Harley and Joker’s relationship has always been toxic, and seeing her step away from that to find her own happiness was one of the biggest joys of the film.”
In December, Yan offered a similar explanation of her pitch to Collider. She mentioned the sizzle reel and also a “pitch deck” she put together. #MeToo was firmly on her mind too:
“I put together like a little pitch deck that just had all my thoughts about the aesthetics of the film and the world. And then I also kind of created a sizzle reel, but it wasn’t like a sizzle reel where it just was like here’s a reference and here’s another reference and here’s another reference. But to me the story’s super compelling and personal to me because it is about emancipation, about women sort of like almost being competitive with one another and bringing each other down, but also because of our own inabilities I think to feel so powerless and like the stranglehold that is the patriarchy. And so I feel like I very much have gone through that arc myself, so and I’ve seen it with especially I think set against the backdrop of like #MeToo and what has been happening in our industry in the last few years. So that definitely infiltrated its way into my pitch as well. So that for me this film was so much more than a superhero film about like and the first girl gang film or any of that. But it really has a compelling narrative and theme to it that is very, very personal to me.”
YouTube’s Yellow Flash – who refers to BOP as a trash fire – offered commentary on Yan’s reel and the story in his latest video. He was stunned that the movie was made given its estimated $97 million budget because of what amounts to a montage of unrelated material.
He added Hollywood and theaters are dying because “crap” like BOP is what is being foisted on moviegoers who increasingly refuse to go to the movies.
Birds of Prey was praised by critics and audiences who saw it, some for its themes, others for its romping action. The film has a 78% Audience Score on Rotten Tomatoes but performed badly at the box office. It was outgrossed by the following week’s release Sonic the Hedgehog in only four days.
The film was written by Christina Hodson under the close supervision of its co-producer and star Margot Robbie. Hodson is working on other scripts for DC Films including Batgirl.
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