This article contains nothing but Birds of Prey spoilers. We have a spoiler-free review right here.
Birds of Prey is the latest entry in Warner Bros.’ sprawling DCEU shared universe of superhero movies. It’s not just any superhero movie though. Birds of Prey offers up a female-led, female directed R-rated action romp through the grimy streets of North Gotham. Like any good comic book movie, the Cathy Yan helmed flick includes a whole bunch of impressive Easter eggs from deep cut DC Comics references to ridiculous Batman ’66 nods all the way through some awesome homages to Harley’s origin.
As always we’re trying to catch all of the Easter eggs and secrets that Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn has to offer but despite our hard work there’s no way that we’ve spotted them all! That’s where you come in, if you caught something that we didn’t then jump into our comments or hit us up on Twitter and if we update the piece with your spot then we’ll give you a shout out!
– Easily the most deep cut reference in the entire movie, Birds of Prey features the first appearance of Harley Quinn. But we’re not talking about Batman: The Animated Series. During Harley’s prep for the final battle, a clip from Days of our Lives can be seen on the screen of Renee Montoya’s TV which shows Arleen Sorkin as a Harlequin on the popular soap opera. It was this sequence that inspired the character and that led to Sorkin becoming the first person to voice Harley Quinn on Batman: The Animated Series!
– Harley’s necklace says Bruce, the name of her Hyena who in turn is named after Bruce Wayne (in the film she apparently doesn’t know that he’s also Batman). Harley keeping a pet hyena is also a nice riff on her pet hyenas from Batman: The Animated Series. Only those two were named Bud and Lou, after famed comedy duo Bud Abbott and Lou Costello.
– We get to see Harley chopping it up on a Roller Derby rink which comes from Amanda Palmer, Jimmy Palmiotti, and Chad Hardin’s popular New 52 Harley Quinn run.
– At the Black Mask club, a drunk Harley accidentally calls Dinah “Bianca” in the club… now we’re probably reaching with this one, but in the comics Helena Bertinelli has a daughter called Bianca Bertinelli…Could this be another deep cut reference to the classic comics?
– When Renee Montoya and Dinah first meet, the cop references Dinah’s mother who was apparently the first Black Canary. This is a really interesting note as in the comics Dinah was the first Black Canary and her daughter Laurel later took on the mantle, so who was Dinah’s mom? We’d love to know more, especially as the pre-Man of Steel history of the DCEU has only been explored in brief teases so far.
– Black Canary’s costume at the very end incorporates her traditional fishnets, but as part of her sleeves in a smart reinvention of her iconic look.
– The Helena Bertinelli version of the Huntress has been kicking around DC Comics since 1989. But there was an earlier version of the character, Helena Wayne, who was the daughter of Batman and Catwoman! The Helena Bertinelli Huntress was created by Joey Cavalieri and Joe Staton.
– The rival mafia don who kills the Bertinellis is Don Galante. In the comics the Galante family are one of Gotham’s five mob families that make up the city’s La Cosa Nostra.
– That Huntress costume at the end looks pretty cool, we even get a classic domino mask. We’re excited to see where the Birds of Prey go next… now they’re a real team could we possibly see the appearance of one Barbara Gordon?
– Renee is the first canonically gay character in either a Marvel or DC movie and when we’re introduced to her ex-girlfriend (played by Ali Wong) it’s a nice nod to the queer history of the character who once dated Kate Kane’s Batwoman.
– In the comics Renee Montoya quits the police and becomes the Question. Considering that the film ends with Renee retiring to become a full time crime fighter, with the Birds, maybe there’s a chance we could see something like this happen on screen. We’d love to see her put on the iconic mask if Birds of Prey gets a sequel.
– One of the first things that we noticed was that Cassandra Cain mentioned she was in foster care. Now that might not seem too out of the ordinary for a street kid, it’s important in regards to Cass and her comic book origin. In the DC Comics, Cass is the daughter of Lady Shiva and David Cain who train her to be an assassin. Now it doesn’t look like Cass got that training here (although she is quite good with her hands). But the fact that she’s fostered means that we could learn more about her real parents going forward…
– When Cassandra Cain is initially unable to respond to Montoya’s question in the precinct, it’s a nod to how the character couldn’t speak in her early appearances. This was due to her brutal training by her father which put the ability to kill above the ability to communicate.
– This probably isn’t the direction they’re going to take her in the movies, but in the comics, Cassandra Cain wore the mantle of Batgirl for a number of years, and rocked one of the coolest costumes in the Bat-family while doing it!
– The Janus Corporation gets several mentions and background appearances in the movie, notably in a “Janus Cosmetic” billboard. In Black Mask’s comics origin, Janus was the foundation of the Sionis family fortune, and Roman made a fortune on flawed cosmetics that ultimately ended up scarring its wearers. The appearance of Janus here is another tie to the wider DCEU as well, as we had previously seen a Janus sign all the way back in the Justice League movie.
– Roman’s “fuck family” rant is the closest this character feels to his earliest comics appearances, where he resented his parents and actually created his mask from the wood of his father’s coffin. Roman is a weird guy.
– Roman keeps an extensive collection of exotic masks, as he did in the comics, even before he adopted his villainous alter ego.
– Later in the movie, Roman’s goons all wear strange and exotic masks which works as a rad homage to his crew in the comics who were known as the False Face Society.
– During the third act of the movie we see Harley take on Black Mask at the so-called “Founders Pier” though that isn’t a location we know from Gotham City, it seems like it could be a mashup of Founders Island in the Arkham series of games and Gotham Pier in various Batman movies and comics. That’s not the only landmark familiar to gamers, as Amusement Mile, the location of the Funhouse is a key location in the North East of Gotham in both the Batman comics and the award-winning Batman: Arkham games.
– Harley mentions Robinson Park, a landmark in Gotham City which is named for classic Batman artist Jerry Robinson. It’s a regular fixture in the comics and has been mentioned in Joker as well as other DC movies.
– During that epic evidence room fight we caught a glimpse of what looked Katana’s iconic sword from Suicide Squad.
– In the third act when Harley and the gang are battling the gangs of Gotham they’re in the top of a funhouse and the windows are covered with Joker-style “ha-ha-ha” graffiti. When she looks for her weapons stash it’s all gone revealing that it was clearly an old safe house for Harley and Joker.
– The building that Harley crashes the truck into is ACE Chemicals which is historically where he first turned into the Joker. In Suicide Squad this is also where Harleen was turned into Harley, this destruction is a key part of her titular emancipation! What’s more, when Harley is reminiscing about her origin story, the movie reuses footage from Suicide Squad meaning that it’s definitely in canon with past DCEU efforts.
– Some other nods that Suicide Squad is 100% in continuity focus on Harley joking about the events of the film, cutting her Squad hairstyle off, and the infamous “Daddy’s Little Monster” shirt that she says has “sentimental value.”
– Something that is interesting here though is that any and all references and footage of the Joker are definitely not Jared Leto and seem to be almost aggressively generic and more of an implication of the Joker rather than any specific representation of him.
Miscellaneous Cool Stuff
– The “famous Gotham artist” who made Roman’s statue could be the Bat-family villain Grotesque or in a more deep-cut and silly reference it could be a Batman ’66 villain known as the Clock King who pretends to be an artist when he isn’t committing bizarre time-based crimes.
– Harley mentioning that she once stole “Eleanor Rosevelt’s nudes” for the Joker is especially funny because the first lady was actually introduced in to the DC universe canon as a character in 1981’s All-Star Squadron #3.
– Harley and Cassandra are watching a Tweety and Sylvester cartoon, and there’s a Porky Pig VHS tape on top of the TV, this is not just a cool Warner Bros. animation nod, but also pays homage to the fact that the film really feels like a live action Looney Tunes cartoon, which is exactly what Harley Quinn should be!
– Though we couldn’t find anything about the Golden Lion crime family in the comic we were wondering if the name of Mr. Keo’s organization could be a nod to the similarly named award that Joker took home at the Venice Film Festival last year.
– This might just be us living in a dream world but we think that one of Roman’s goons in the funhouse near the end was dressed like almost-forgotten DC Comics character, B’wana Beast!
Birds of Prey Post-Credits Scene
There isn’t a post-credits scene in Birds of Prey, but we DO get a post-credits voiceover. Harley says “I hear Batman f…” before it gets cut off. This is likely a reference to the excellent Harley Quinn animated series on DC Universe where Harley refers to Batman as “a guy who fucks bats.”