Warner Bros. brought their upcoming DCEU entry Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn at CCXP 2019 in São Paulo, Brazil tonight and before they got into the nitty-gritty of the panel, they treated the audience to the opening scene of the film. Welcome to a new Gotham — this is Harley Quinn’s Gotham. Bright. Vibrant. Colorful. And absolutely mad.
“If you want to tell a story right, you gotta start at the beginning,” we hear Margot Robbie‘s narration over the opening logos. “They say behind every successful man there’s a badass broad,” she says. But, “I guess all good things come to an end. So we broke up.” We see a disheveled Harley literally thrown out on the street by a henchman, lying on the ground.
“Mister Jay was super broke up about it,” Harley says. But the picture shows another story. Harley’s sobbing, trying to beat down the Joker’s door to no answer. Harley Quinn, as you’d probably expect, is not a reliable narrator. And that trend continues.
“I got an amazing new place that was all mine,” she says, as the scene cuts to reveal her in a mess of a run-down apartment, where she tattoos her own leg, throws knives at a drawing of the Joker, and cuts her hair. Oops. She chops her pigtails and instantly starts crying, initially horrified at her new look.
“I even opened myself up to the possibility of new love,” she says in voiceover as Harley walks into clearly off the books kennel, where she finds her beloved Hyena. She’s fawning and swooning over the massive creatures while the creepy salesman tells her he accepts all types of payment. “Here’s the thing about new love,” she says, “you have to feed it.” Literally. The hyena is nomming on a severed limb while Harley sprays easy-cheez into her mouth, a giant tub of cheese puffs by her side.
“Soon enough, I was back on my feet, ready to make new friends.” Harley’s at the roller derby, absolutely smashing it up in the rink. In the crowd, we see Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco) in the crowd, cheering for Harley. She also swipes a wallet out of someone’s pocket.
“It was time for Gotham to meet the new Harley Quinn, so I really put myself out there.” We see Harley walking happily in her caution tape costume, getting a round of bright drink frilly drinks for her derby friends. But on her way back to the table, she hears them talking shit… about her. “Some people just aren’t made to stand on their own,” one of them says. “She’s going to go back to him the minute he snaps his fingers.” Harley’s crushed. She drops the tray of cocktails and walks away, chugging a drink on the way out.
Harley’s narration continues, “Our love bloomed in a highly toxic industrial processing plant and lucky for me, I have all my best ideas drunk.” As Harley walks by the ACE Chemical plant. she shouts “I have the best idea!” She hops behind the wheel of a parked gasoline rig and drives away, grinning as she books it towards the chemical plant, the truck driver chasing after her.
Speeding towards the plant, Harley rips the Puddin necklace off, growling out “motherfucker” as she chucks it out the window. The scene intercuts between flashbacks of her jumping into the chemical vat (notably we never see Joker, just her fall). In the present, Harley wedges a glittering heel against the gas pedal and jumps out the door of the speeding truck. It smashes into the chemical plant, kaboom, and ACE Chemicals explodes into a fireworks display of bright, vibrant colors — painting the Gotham night sky in Harley Quinn’s vibrant image.
Watching her past go up in pink, green, and yellow flames, Harley looks on in giddy glee, her the flashes from the explosions lighting up her face. “It was the closure I needed, a fresh start, the chance to be my own woman,” Harley says in voiceover as she struts away, dusting off her hands and she walks away from the explosion. Fin.
Following the footage, Robbie, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Rosie Perez, Ella Jay Basco and director Cathy Yan settled in for a Q&A to talk about bringing Harley’s new Gotham to life on screen.
“It was awesome creating Gotham,” Yan said. “A new Gotham that’s different from the Gotham you’ve seen before. This is Harley Quinn’s Gotham. This Gotham is colorful and crazy and weird.” Shouting out one of her favorite sets, she told audiences she was particularly excited for them to see the “Funhouse,” which she said features in the end of the movie.
Smollet-Bell talked about the version of Black Canary we’ll meet in the film, encouraging fans to be patient for her to become the Canary we know and love. “Dinah’s all heart, and when we meet Dinah in the film she’s very much so just got her heartbroken because she’s lost her mother to the world of crime-fighting and she wants nothing to do with it,” she explained. When we meet her, Dinah’s working in the Black Mask — the name of the bar owned by big bad Roman Sionis (Ewan McGregor), aka Black Mask — and yes, we’ll get to see her put that Canary cry to use.
Winstead talked about how playing Huntress, a character who’s devoted her entire life to her skillset, encouraged her to devote all herself to getting the character right.
As for Perez, she described Rene Montoya as a “hardcore” character who doesn’t take any BS. “What I like about her is that she works in an environment where nobody is giving her respect and she doesn’t cry about it, she fights back. She fights back really really hard. Her goal is to clean up Gotham and make it a safe city and she will go to the end of the earth to do that.”
Finally, we learned a little about the film’s version of Cassandra Cain, who Basco described as a “mischievous, sneaky” street girl. “She has a bit of a potty mouth and she’s the one who brings the whole gang together. She doesn’t have a family… Until she meets Harley Quinn, she finds an official family and a home in Gotham.”
And that bond between badass ladies seems to be the undercurrent of the whole movie. If the opening scene and panel weren’t enough, Warner Bros. also gave the crowd a sneak peek at a new trailer that was jam-packed with killer action, but even more packed with anti-hero bonding. “You make me want to be a less terrible person,” Harley said as the trailer came to a close.
Birds of Prey arrives in US theaters on February 7, 2020. Stay tuned throughout the weekend for more of the lastest out of CCXP.