Birds of Prey brings strong, complex women to the forefront and hypes up the power of female friendships, making it the perfect film to pair with your next girls night.
You know what they say — behind every great woman is a group of equally great, incredibly talented and wholly complex women cheering her on and hyping her up.
Or, that’s what they would say, if that age-old adage was written by a woman about women.
But while women don’t have many age-old adages written about us the same way men do, right now you can go out and watch the spectacular movie Birds of Prey, which is written by a woman, directed by a woman, and stars women who do all sorts of kickass things.
Whether you want to soothe your soul after a bad breakup, celebrate your favorite gals on Galentine’s Day or fantasize about kicking the ass of all those who have wronged you, then Birds of Prey is the perfect movie for you and all your best ladyfriends.
A great girls night out movie has the complicated task of presenting some kind of narrative that’s somewhat relateable to a wide variety of women, while also indulging in just enough fantasy to give you and your ladies an escape from the drudgery of the real world. At the same time, it should also wind up affirming your belief in yourself, in your girls and in the power of womanhood.
That is certainly quite a tall order.
Luckily, Birds of Prey is easily up to the task.
First off, let’s take on relateability. What, you may be asking yourself, is exactly relateable about a movie starring Harley Quinn?
And truly, taken at face value, Harley — the undisputed lead of this film, no matter what the title of it may be — is not an entirely relateable character.
With her acid-bleached skin, penchant toward mallet-inflicted violence and a tendency to piss off a large guy that dresses like a bat, Harley Quinn is often seen as more of a character in a costume rather than a person in which we might see a bit of ourselves.
And yet, that is exactly what she is in Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn).
That goofy title is actually what makes the movie so relateable. The emancipation of Harley Quinn mentioned in the title is two-fold: an emancipation from a toxic boyfriend and an emancipation from the more toxic parts of herself.
Those are two experiences that any woman can relate to. The second is one that every self-actualized adult has had to contend with, whereas the first — learning to leave behind a toxic ex — is one that each woman has either had to face herself or support and counsel a close friend through.
Yes, Harley Quinn’s story in Birds of Prey has to do with a stolen diamond and a Gotham City crime boss, but as I mentioned in my review, her journey in this film is about finally saying goodbye to a toxic ex that always relegated her to the sideline, always took credit for her work and always encouraged the worst parts of herself to flourish. And in leaving behind that toxic ex, she’s likewise forced to confront the toxicity in herself that she’s allowed to take root and begin the difficult journey to becoming — well, perhaps not a good guy, but at least a better person.
Watching Harley Quinn take that journey throughout the film is not only relatable but life-affirming. It takes strength to leave behind someone who has been such a big part of you, even if you know how bad they were for you. It takes courage to start over again, especially if you’ve never really figured out who you were in the first place. And it takes wisdom and a fair amount of humility to recognize that you can’t do it on your own, even if that’s what you’re used to.
Getting to watch a woman take that journey and succeed because of her inner strength and the strength of the women supporting her is exactly the kind of movie to watch while surrounded by your own powerful group of kickass, badass women.
Most recommended girls night out movies tend to fall in the category of romance — or at least are romance adjacent. Given that, I understand why recommending an action movie like Birds of Prey, which eschews romance altogether and features no good male leads whatsoever, would seem like an odd choice to pair with a girls night.
But the thing is — romance films and action movies are tied together by one central idea that acts as the foundation for both genres: They are fantasies.
I suppose it’s easy to see why romance movies are considered fantasies. They often feature men who are too good to be true, scenarios that could not ever truly exist in the real world, and they always, always end with a big damn kiss and a happily ever after, no matter how improbable.
But all action movies, no matter how gritty or grounded they’re made to feel, are likewise fantasies. They exist in worlds filled with larger-than-life heroes and oversized villains, with superpowers and impossible tech, with planets that exist in parallel and seem to ignore the laws of physics in every way.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with fantasies, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with either romance films or action movies being fantasies, because the way in which they are the most fantastical is also the exact thing we need right now.
Romance movies exist in a fantasy world where everyone ends up finding happiness. Action movies exist in a fantasy world where the good guys always win in the end.
And despite Birds of Prey being firmly an action film and not at all a romance movie, it serves its viewers both of these fantasies.
Each of the women finds the happiness they long for and which we so desperately wish for them. Each of the villains gets exactly what they deserve, delivered in the exact way we might want.
It’s messy and complicated and a little convoluted to get there, but the ending delivers what we — as viewers — want and deserve, one in which the women emerge triumphant over the bad guys with their heads held high and with lifelong friends, a lifetime of happiness (and ass kicking) ahead of them.
Whatever the woefully misguided may say about it on Twitter dot com, Birds of Prey is not a movie about hating men or hating on men.
In fact (in what might be the most offensive to these aforementioned clowns), Birds of Prey is not actually about men at all.
Instead, Birds of Prey is a movie that’s all about women in all their complex, complicated and completely kickass glory, and tells a story that — while sometimes spinning off into the absurdity of comic book tropes — is likewise informed by the real-life perspectives of women and their experiences.
Which means that the women on the screen — even though, yes, they can kick ass with a crossbow or a mallet, and they have a supersonic cry that can crash eardrums — are also incredibly complex and real.
Harley is a person who is often deeply impulsive and sometimes deeply selfish, but is also someone who is deeply loyal and loving. Helena is stoic and steely and a little bit strange, but also empathetic and unexpectedly funny. Dinah is jaded and cynical, but she’s also resilient, supportive and sincere.
These are women you root for not just because you may see yourself in parts of them, but because parts of them will remind you of women you know and love. And the movie not only makes it so easy to root for its heroes, it makes it so much damn fun to do so.
There are plenty of times in Birds of Prey that will make you lean forward with excitement, that will make you spill your drink (if you have one) and leave you wanting to shout a few expletives because what you’ve witnessed was so badass.
This is a movie about women, by women, starring women, that can be enjoyed by everyone but most especially women.
It’s a fantastic action movie and a spectacular superhero film that will make you and your ladies leave the theaters feeling like you could kick the ass of anything or anyone that gets in your way.
Because this is a movie in which women suffer setbacks and mishaps and deep disappointments.
Where women fall and falter and fail.
But they also rise — again, and above, and always.
Just like you, and just like all your favorite ladies.