The Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) are descending upon us! Directed by Cathy Yan and starring Margot Robbie, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Rosie Perez, Chris Messina, Ella Jay Basco, Ali Wong and Ewan McGregor, Birds of Prey is one of the most highly anticipated DC comics related films in recent memory. The film not only boasts an all female superhero/anti-hero team, but is also the first major blockbuster comic film to be directed by a woman of color. Given the uniquely exciting make-up of the film, it seemed like the natural subject for a collection of critics of color reviews.
For the uninitiated, with some major film releases, I gather reviews from diverse critics, with an emphasis on POC critics. I decided to do this for certain films because I found myself regularly having to scour social media for reviews by diverse critics and it can be challenging to do so. Hopefully this will be a helpful resource for those who want to hear how critics of color feel about Birds of Prey. As always, a reminder that this is not my review.
Below are reviews of Birds of Prey from critics of color that I have seen thus far. I will continue to update this list for about one week after the film premieres. Please feel free to contact me via the site or on Twitter if you would like me to add or remove your review from this list. Please note that I reserve the right to add or remove reviews at my discretion. Of course I will honor any requests to remove your review.
Finally – By including the following reviews, I am not making any assertions about the site or reviewer’s credibility or quality. I’m simply sharing reviews from critics that I’ve seen online.
Some potential spoilers may be in the review excerpts below!
Dominic Mah, The Nerds of Color
“Holy batshit, batpeople, Birds Of Prey is powerful. It is an action-comedy escapade about a squad of DC Comics’ most beloved women characters, including Harley Quinn, Huntress, Black Canary, Renee Montoya, and Cassandra Cain. The film also does a thing which may befittingly fly under the radar: it displays a distinctly Asian American artistic aesthetic in the context of a modern superhero movie.”
Kate Sanchez, But Why Tho? – 9/10
“Overall, Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn is a must-see. Not just because it’s female-led or because it’s a comic book movie, but because it blows every other DC comic book movie out of the water and large helping of Marvel’s too. Come for the action, stay for irreverent humor and glitter bombs.”
Britany Murphy, Geeks of Color
“Coupling the amazing acting from the cast with an action-packed and comedic script from Christina Hodson, Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) is a film that certainly deserves its place in the pantheon of comic book films.”
Michael Lee, That’s IT LA
“Yan’s film doesn’t feel like its a tiny cog in the giant machine. Instead, it’s very much its own thing. And while there may be some pacing issues, the film makes up for it with its wickedly fun unconventional storytelling, fantabulous zany characters, and thrilling action.”
Sheraz Farooqi, ComicBook Debate – 3.5/4
“Birds of Prey feels like a true sequel to Suicide Squad while giving Harley Quinn her first solo film disguised under the female-led team-up. There are a lot more positives than negatives as incredible action sequences, hilarious moments and character development combine to create a thrilling ride.”
Rendy Jones, Ready Reviews – 4/5 (87%)
“This is the most fun I’ve had watching a DC movie since Shazam or Wonder Woman. The fact that Yan and Hodson expanded on the character of Harley Quinn with her own story while having to navigate through the disaster that was Suicide Squad was not an easy feat. Yet, they succeeded in the highest degree.”
Sharronda, Pay or Wait – Pay
“A lot of people are going to be pleasantly surprised. For a lot of the hate this movie got, it does rise above it.”
Katie Smith-Wong, HeyUGuys
“Overall, Birds of Prey further dispels the assumption that superhero/comic book films are “just for guys” as it offers fun and action with a serious message at its core. To those who (still) think that women can’t do superheroes, the joke’s on you.”
Angie Han, Mashable
“The film is at its absolute best when all these characters come together, cementing their girl-power bond with perfectly observed gestures like Harley offering Black Canary a hair tie. But what it offers of this dynamic is not nearly enough. Which, maybe, was their plan all along: Show us just how cool Harley Quinn and the Birds of Prey can be, so we’re left wanting to get back in line for their next movie.”
Hoai-Tran Bui, Slashfilm
“Birds of Prey certainly errs on the side of style over substance — if you dig too far into its flashy surface, you may not find much underneath. It’s not saying anything deep or groundbreaking about the female experience or the nature of revenge. Birds of Prey is reveling in being as gonzo and stylish as it can be. But when the fights are this thrilling and the humor this absurd, whatever’s underneath the surface doesn’t matter all that much.”
Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times
“‘Birds of Prey,’ directed by Cathy Yan from a screenplay by Christina Hodson, is an impudent blast of comic energy. Light on psychology and devoid of prestige, it’s a slab of R-rated hard candy that refuses to take anything, least of all itself, too seriously.”
Chauncey K. Robinson, People’s World
“Birds of Prey is not a hero’s journey, but rather a wild roller coaster of female emancipation through a variety of brutal moments that culminates in a mostly cohesive plot. There are parts that dive deeper into what women deal with in a society embedded with male supremacy and other moments of silly fun and adventure. The film relishes being multifaceted, just like its certifiably insane former psychologist and only slightly reformed criminal main character, Harley Quinn.”
Carla Renata, The Curvy Film Critic
“Birds of Prey – and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn is delightful, delicious fun and a comic book female empowerment at its best with not only a stellar cast, but with a screenplay Christina Hodson and direction by Cathy Yan.”
Devesh Sharma, Filmfare – 4/5
“Action lovers should take note that this film has some of the best-stylised action this side of Kill Bill. The climax scene where the girls put up a last stand is something you’ll remember for its ingenuity. The humour quotient is high as well throughout the film, with one-liners galore. The only contention is that the film centres too much on Harley Quinn.”
Dominic Griffin, Spectrum Culture – 3.75/5
“Basically, every element that toxic fans seem to hate from the advanced marketing material (the costume design not being designed around the male gaze, a shot where Harley hands Canary a hair-tie in the middle of a fight sequence) is what makes Birds of Prey feel so special. The movie possesses a palpable feminine energy in a way neither Wonder Woman nor Captain Marvel quite exhibited, weaving in themes of sisterhood without feeling like empty gestures towards representation.”
Rohan Naahar, Hindustan Times
“Combining all the ingredients that make comic book bros break out in hives, Birds of Prey is a candy-coloured curveball of a movie that doubles as a feminist fable and an apology for the poorly received Suicide Squad.”
Karl Delossantos, Smash Cut – 3.5/5
“Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) has all of the chaotic energy that a movie about Harley Quinn should have. It’s often messy, sometimes over-the-top, confusing, laugh out loud funny, cringy, endearing, and somewhere beneath it all is the best DC extended universe movie thus far.”
Robert Daniels, 812 Film Reviews – 2.5/4
“Nevertheless, for all those pluses, Yan’s action flick never coalesces. Which is enough for it to be enjoyable and better than much of DC’s output, yet fall short of the subversive game changer it could’ve been.”
Wenlei Ma, news.com.au – 3/5
“While it could have cohered better or it could have really, really committed to being properly bonkers or rageful, Birds Of Prey is mostly fun, snappy and entertaining – in other words, it’s OK.”
Rafer Guzmán, Newsday – 1.5/4
“The ostentatious title promises a sense of female liberation, of wings spread and rules broken. Instead, the movie follows the conventions of the superhero-action genre so slavishly that it never manages to soar. Indeed, “Birds of Prey” barely ever gets off the ground.”
Jordan Calhoun, Black Nerds Problems
“Overall, is Birds of Prey fun? In its final scenes, absolutely; everything leading up to it, well, your mileage may vary dependent on how much you value its slapstick-y approach to humor and how much you want to see Harley compared to the rest of the Birds. For its ticket price, failed antagonist, and ultimately forgettable emotional arcs, I’d save this one for a plane.”
Ron is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of POC Culture. He is a big believer in the power and impact of pop culture and the importance of representation in media.