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Cathy Yan to direct Harley Quinn in ‘Birds of Prey’

Hope is rekindled for the popular Margot Robbie character.
Harley Quinn
By  · Published on April 17th, 2018

Hope is rekindled for the popular Margot Robbie character.

What to do with Harley Quinn? That question has already been answered in a number of ways from Warner Brothers. The studio has been contemplating a direct sequel to Suicide Squad with Gavin O’Connor helming, a Joker team-up adventure with Jared Leto, a solo spin-off, and a loose adaptation of “Birds of Prey.” We here at FSR have been pondering the character’s next steps for a very long time, but we might actually have an actual cinematic solution soon.

As reported by Deadline, Cathy Yan has been tapped to direct the next Harley Quinn film based on the female team-up series “Birds of Prey.” The script is apparently in development, but once it is locked down, Yan will jump into pre-production. The dream is to have cameras rolling at the end of the year after Margot Robbie completes work on Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon A Time in Hollywood.

Yan is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and a relative newcomer to film. She has directed several short films and recently completed production on her feature debut, Dead Pigs. That film stars Zazie Beetz, Mason Lee, David Rysdahl, and Meng Li as a group of eccentrics struggling to understand the mysterious river of pig corpses floating towards Shanghai. Dead Pigs won the World Cinema Dramatic Award for Ensemble Acting at this year’s Sundance film festival, and will hopefully hit local cinemas sometime this year.

Margot Robbie was determined to bring a female point of view to her franchise, and Yan’s pitch for her character apparently aligned perfectly with the actress’ assertion. Robbie’s production company, LuckyChap, is steering the film’s development alongside Sue Kroll and Bryan Unkeless. They previously partnered on I, Tonya. The script is currently being handled by Christina Hodson, who just completed the Transformers prequel Bumblebee and is also writing the new Batgirl movie.

“Birds of Prey” was a comic book series created by Chuck Dixon in the mid-nineties. The original concept followed a wheelchair-bound Barbara Gordon (a.k.a. Batgirl) leading a group of female superheroes based out of Gotham City. Since its initial launch, the team has expanded beyond heroes like Black Canary and Huntress to include more eclectic players like Catwoman, Poison Ivy, and Big Barda (soon to be seen in Ava DuVernay’s New Gods adaptation).

Over the years, Harley Quinn has appeared repeatedly in “Birds of Prey.” In 2002, the character was chosen to be the main antagonist for the WB’s short-lived television series. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off star Mia Sara portrayed the psychotic doctor with a Joker fetish and is barely recognizable from the Harley Quinn we know from Batman: The Animated Series and Suicide Squad.

Whatever your thoughts regarding the original David Ayer film, Margot Robbie delivered a standout performance. If my regular tours through various comic cons and their endless parades of Harley Quinn cosplay have taught me anything, it’s that her interpretation of the character struck a serious chord with the fanbase. Hiring Cathy Yan to lead this next phase for the character signifies a fresh approach, and that is an action worth celebrating.

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Brad Gullickson is a Weekly Columnist for Film School Rejects and Senior Curator for One Perfect Shot. When not rambling about movies here, he's rambling about comics as the co-host of Comic Book Couples Counseling. Hunt him down on Twitter: @MouthDork. (He/Him)