This article contains nothing but Birds of Prey spoilers. We have a spoiler-free review right here.
We can’t get enough of the badass women of Birds of Prey! Now that you’ve seen Harley Quinn and her girl gang take down the baddies of Gotham it’s time to break down the end of the movie and work out what it all means for the future of the Birds of Prey and the DCEU going forward.
The Death of Black Mask
Despite being named after the Birds of Prey comic series, this film is really about Harley Quinn finding herself after a nasty breakup with the Joker. The infamous villainess has long been defined by her relationship and without it she’s at a loss. Does she try to become a more notorious bad guy than him? Should she get out of Gotham? Should she… turn good? This conflict is exemplified by Harley’s decision to sell out Cassandra Cain by swapping the young girl and the diamond she stole to save her own skin at an old funhouse known as the Booby Trap in Gotham’s Amusement Mile.
It doesn’t matter that Cass is the closest thing that Harley has to a friend, or that Black Mask is someone that Harley hates, when it comes down to it her survival instinct kicks in. Promising Roman that she’ll deliver the girl and the Bertinelli Diamond might have started as a gambit to save her own life but it quickly became the defining choice in Harley’s life and sadly she made the wrong one. But a twist of fate and a badass collection of incredible women mean that Harley’s betrayal doesn’t make her irredeemable and that Cass has a future outside of the walls of the Booby Trap.
As Roman and his group of masked goons arrive at the iconic Gotham location–Amusement Mile first appeared in 1999’s Batman #569 but has been a key spot in the Batman: Arkham video game franchise too–we get a cool nod to the classic comics. Not only has Roman put on the immediately recognizable mask that gives him his name, but he’s got a crew of goons who are all masked too. Not only is this a visual and physical representation of the gender dynamics at play in the final fight, as the Birds of Prey face down against the misogynist men of the city, but it also seems to be a reference to Black Mask’s classic hench squad, the False Face Society.
In the face of this huge force that represents not only a real battle they have to win, but also a metaphorical struggle against all the men who have tried to oppress and trap them throughout the film, the reluctant group of anti-heroines realize the only way to survive is to team up. We have to give a shout out to Chad Stahelski and his stunt team 87eleven here for an unbelievable fight sequence throughout the funhouse which is easily one of the best we’ve seen in any DC or Marvel movie. As the crew reaches the exit they quickly realize that there are more henchmen who need to be defeated which leads to one of the key moments in the movie.
Black Canary Unleashes Her Powers
Jurnee Smollett-Bell was made to play Black Canary. Though we mostly see her battling goons with her awesome fighting skills we also get a glimpse of her true power during the final battle. Back when Renee and Dinah first meet as the cop is trying to encourage her to become an informant on Roman Sionis, the hardboiled detective mentioned Dinah’s mother. In the comics the first Black Canary was also named Dinah Lance, but here we discover that Dinah is a legacy hero. Her mother died in the line of duty, and as a result, the Dinah of this film has never fully used her powers.
But when the time comes and the women of Gotham need her the most, Black Canary unleashes the “canary cry,” a destructive sonic wave. While Arrow fans are used to seeing the “canary cry” on TV, it’s the first time this has ever been portrayed in live action on the big screen. It’s a radical moment that showcases just how powerful the one metahuman in Birds of Prey really is. For fans of the wider DCEU this is a monumental reveal as we’ve just witnessed the appearance of a new metahuman in the Gotham landscape which likely won’t go unnoticed.
The Last Supper
With Victor Zsaz and Black Mask defeated we get to see Harley living her dream as she and her new friends sit and recuperate in a local Mexican restaurant enjoying some burritos and margaritas. It’s a nice call back to an earlier moment when Harley overheard her roller derby buddies badmouthing her inability to leave the Joker for good. Though it may seem like a simple and sweet slice of life moment like the Avengers eating shawarma after the events of their movie in 2012, this is probably the most important moment for Harley in the entire film.
After a movie filled with fighting, conflict, and deceit, here we get to see Harley in a moment of peace. She’s surrounded by other strong women, people who aren’t trying to kill her or betray her. There’s a feeling of bonding and solidarity as the group reminisce about the fight and begin to think about the future. We get a feeling that there could be true redemption on the horizon for Harley Quinn, after all didn’t she just save a little girl from the bad guys and help a woman on a quest for vengeance reunite with her family treasure? As satisfying as it could be it’s a testament to Margot Robbie and Christina Hodson’s understanding of the character that Harley doesn’t settle into a sweet and comfortable life as a good guy right here.
Instead Harley is still Harley so after an incredibly gross and fitting bait and switch it’s revealed that she and Cass have stolen Canary’s car and are on the lam with the Bertinelli Diamond leaving the crime-fighting trio behind. This evolution offers up a compromise for Harley, it’s a true change from the Joker and his sadistic brand of evil that defined much of her life, while still allowing the chaotic criminal within to thrive. We leave Cass and Harley with the promise of a life of crime together, as a team of sorts, one that might be driven as much by mischievousness as it is by a need to belong.
Harley Quinn & Associates
The movie ends with the introduction of Harley Quinn and Associates. In a cute nod to Harley’s confused attempt to discover who she wanted to be after the end of her relationship with the Joker, she presents her new life with a smart business card that would make Patrick Bateman jealous. It turns out that she’s taken on Cass as an apprentice and that the two troublemakers have sold the Bertinelli Diamond and are living their best lives as stylish crims who love nothing more than scamming and eating egg sandwiches.
It’s an interesting narrative choice considering we know that Harley will be starring in the upcoming Suicide Squad sequel. Will this leave room for Cass in Harley’s life? Or could the creators be setting up a possible antagonist for Harley? In the comics Cassandra Cain becomes Batgirl, something that surely wouldn’t go down well with her mentor! Either way we were very happy to see these two drive off into the sunset, even just for now.
The Birds of Prey Team
Though they only appear in the final moments of the movie we do get a glimpse at the Birds of Prey as they utilize the information from the Bertinelli Diamond to take down Gotham’s crooks. The awesome fight sequence shows Renee, Black Canary, and Huntress kicking butt with the latter two characters in more comics accurate costumes than we’ve seen them in before. Harley’s sarcastic voiceover lets us know that they’re known as the Birds of Prey but to her they’re just a team of annoying do-gooders. Maybe the next time they meet it won’t be on such friendly terms. Harley did steal Dinah’s car, after all.
It’ll also be interesting to see where the team goes from here. With her dedication to justice and her connection to the GCPD there’s a chance that Renee could take on the role of the woman behind the screen that has traditionally been held by Barbara Gordon’s Oracle. But as she kicks butt pretty well herself and manages to survive a bullet to the chest thanks to one of Harley’s classic costumes we think she’s more likely to take on another superhero mantle that she’s held since the mid-aughts in the comics. The Question is a masked detective who was created by the legendary Steve Ditko in 1967. With Renee now retired from the GCPD, we wouldn’t be surprised to see her take on that role in the DCEU too.
Which leads to the future of the other Birds of Prey. Black Canary and Huntress have always been the core of the team alongside Barbara Gordon. With Christina Hodson currently working on a Batgirl movie script we wouldn’t be surprised to see the Birds of Prey pop up whenever Babs heads back to the big screen.
Does Birds of Prey Have a Post Credits Scene?
While Birds of Prey doesn’t have a conventional post-credits scene there is a fun moment that fans probably won’t want to miss. If you’ve been watching DC Universe’s Harley Quinn animated series you’ll likely know that Harley has a running joke about Batman being a “guy that fucks bats.” Well, Birds of Prey seems to continue that joke as at the end of the credits Harley promises to tell audiences a super important top secret fact about Batman but she only manages to say “I hear Batman f…” That’s close enough for our purposes!