The Underrated DC Gem You Can Stream Without Netflix

By Zack Zagranis | Published

Quick, name the R-rated DC movie that redeemed Harley Quinn after the abysmal Suicide Squad (2017) but got the shaft at the box office thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. Okay, times up. Did you say James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad (2021)? That’s a good guess, but everything The Suicide Squad did, Birds of Prey (2020) did first a year before.

Birds Of Prey Is Criminally Underrated

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Birds of Prey follows Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) after a bad breakup with the Joker. Newly single Harley runs afoul of crime-lord Roman Sionis, AKA Black Mask (Ewan McGregor), whose favorite method of torture is slicing off people’s faces while they’re still alive.

When Black Mask gets his hands on Cassandra Cain—a petty thief who swallowed a priceless diamond—Harley teams up with Black Canary (Jurnee Smollett-Bell), Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), and Detective Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez) to defeat him and save Cain.

Blame The Pandemic

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Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) had the misfortune of coming out at the beginning of the pandemic when people were just starting to avoid public spaces like movie theaters. It’s a shame, too, because the movie is a rare beast. A feminist action movie without a message, Birds of Prey has a uniquely female perspective that refuses to conform to Hollywood’s standard for bada** female action heroes.

Birds Of Prey Broke The Mold Of Female Action Heroes

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Throughout the ’80s and ’90s, female action heroes have had to adopt a certain level of masculinity in order to be taken seriously. Heroines like Ellen Ripley (Aliens) and Sarah Connor (T2) were forced to run around in plain, drab clothes, covered in sweat and grime, and carry big guns just to prove they could hang with their male counterparts like Arnold and Sly.

The only other option was skintight leather, like Kate Beckinsale in the Underworld films.Women either had to look like men or something men desired in order to secure a lead role in an otherwise male-dominated genre. And then Birds of Prey came along and obliterated those female action tropes. Harley (Margot Robbie) and the other Birds dress for themselves, completely oblivious to the male gaze.

Not The Harley Suicide Squad Introduced

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Harley Quinn from Suicide Squad, with her tight booty shorts, is a far cry from Harley in Birds of Prey, who wears a number of fashionably bold outfits—some skin bearing—with not one thought about how desirable they make her look. The Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) might dress closer to Ripley with a utilitarian outfit featuring several places for her to store extra crossbow bolts, but she’s also allowed to wear eyeshadow and lipstick while she’s murdering thugs.

Don’t get it twisted. Birds of Prey isn’t some kind of tea party, knitting circle, or whatever else a misogynist might think a feminist film featuring a team of all women would be. This movie earns its R-rating with plenty of gore, intense action, and raunchy humor. It can’t be stressed enough that everything The Suicide Squad was praised for Birds of Prey did first.

One Of The Best In The Snyderverse

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The movie was produced under the working title Fox Force Five—the fictional TV pilot Uma Thurman’s Pulp Fiction character starred in—which should honestly tell you all you need to know about the movie. Is Birds of Prey a perfect film? Of course not but it’s pretty close as far as the DCEU is concerned.

It is better than 99 percent of the other films in DC’s Snyderverse. Only the first Wonder Woman and The Suicide Squad can compete. If you’re looking for a movie with the same manic energy as Harley Quinn herself, a bit of the old ultra-violence, some adult humor, and the most important breakfast sandwich ever put on film, you need to check out Birds of Prey.

You can stream Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) for free right now on Tubi.