Warning: This post contains spoilers for Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn).
Helmed by director Cathy Yan, the DC Extended Universe’s latest installment, which takes place after the events of Suicide Squad, follows Harley in the wake of her break-up with the Joker (played in Suicide Squad by Jared Leto). The Joker’s face never appears in Birds of Prey, but Harley at first has trouble shaking her abuser’s hold on her. “A harlequin is nothing without a master,” she drunkenly opines upon meeting Jurnee Smollett-Bell’s Black Canary.
Ultimately, Harley resorts to blowing up ACE Chemicals, the place where her toxic relationship with Mr. J truly began, to alert all of Gotham to her newly single status. Unfortunately, in doing so, she also effectively declares open season on herself. Harley wronged a lot of people while under the umbrella of Joker’s protection, and now they want revenge.
One of those people is crime boss Roman Sionis (Ewan McGregor), a.k.a. Black Mask, who sics his henchmen on Harley as soon as he learns of her declaration of independence. But before Sionis’ right-hand man, Victor Zsasz (Chris Messina), can practice his face-slicing skills on her, Harley proposes a deal: She’ll retrieve a long-lost diamond that Sionis is desperate to get his hands on in exchange for her life.
The only problem is that a young Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco) — one of several DC characters who have assumed the role of Batgirl in the comics — has already pickpocketed and swallowed said gem.
It’s this quest that ultimately leads Harley to teaming up with the aforementioned Black Canary, crossbow-wielding vigilante Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and suspended Gotham City PD detective Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez) to keep Cain out of Sionis’ clutches. But Harley is still Harley, and in the end, she takes Cain on as her sidekick and splits, leaving the others to form the crime-fighting team known as the Birds of Prey.
Harley’s character arc and connection to Birds‘ other stars seem to be left purposefully open-ended. So what does that mean for her future in the DC Extended Universe? Warner Bros.’ full slate of upcoming DC flicks includes several films we don’t expect to see her in, from Wonder Woman 1984 and The Batman to Aquaman 2 and Black Adam. But there are a few different movies in which Harley will supposedly play a part.
Robbie has already officially signed on to return in The Suicide Squad, director James Gunn’s “reboot” of the 2016 original that will hit theaters on Aug. 6, 2021. However, Gunn has warned fans not to get “too attached” to any of the cast members, whatever that means.
She’s also reteaming with original Suicide Squad director David Ayers for a Gotham City Sirens movie that will see Harley join forces with fellow female antiheroes Poison Ivy and Catwoman. “It’s a story about three fantastic women who’re trying to find their way in the world, and realize that they have more power together than they do individually,” Ayers told IGN in 2017. “I have daughters, and I want to create something that might be able to help them get along in the world a little bit.”
As for Birds‘ other players, the green light on sequels to their stories — as well as the question of whether Harley will ever reunite with them — likely depends on box office numbers as well as fan reception to their characters. But with Birds currently sitting at an audience score of 88% on Rotten Tomatoes, things are looking pretty good right now.