Life after the Joker: Harley Quinn finds a new gang in Birds of Prey trailer

is based on the long-running comic series of the same name, originally focused on Barbara Gordon (daughter of James Gordon), aka Batgirl. Barbara reinvents herself as the Oracle after an encounter with the Joker paralyzes her from the waist down. Oracle teams up with Black Canary, an accomplished martial artist with an ultrasonic superpower known as the “Canary Cry.

” Various other characters have come and gone over the course of the series, most notably (for current purposes) a former mafia princess turned vigilante dubbed Huntress.

(Some spoilers for below.)

Harley Quinn also appears occasionally in the comics as part of a team dubbed The Secret Six (which also includes Deadshot), but the film version places her squarely centerstage. Screenwriter Christina Hodson wanted to reinvent the crazed psychiatrist, so in the film, Harley’s rocky, abusive relationship with the Joker has ended, leaving her at loose ends. She eventually joins forces with Black Canary (Jurnee Smollett-Bell), Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), and Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez)—a former police detective who goes by the Question in the comics—to protect a young girl named Cassandra Cain from sadistic crime lord Black Mask. (In the comics, Cassandra is the third incarnation of Batgirl.)

The trailer opens with Harley drunkenly confiding in Black Canary at a bar. “You know what a harlequin is?” she slurs. “A harlequin’s role is to serve. It’s nothing without a master.” We see her cutting off her blue-dyed ponytail and engaging in target practice with the Joker’s image—all part of the emancipation process invoked by the film’s subtitle. As Edith Piaf croons on the soundtrack, we also meet Huntress and a brutal crime lord named Roman Sionis (Ewan McGregor), aka Black Mask.

It seems Black Mask is hoping to be Harley’s new master (“You need me, Quinn), and she’s not interested. When Harley comes to the aid of young Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco), she further incurs his wrath. Black Canary, Huntress, and Renee Montoya are also being chased by Black Mask, so they all team up to take on the crime lord once and for all, figuring they have a better chance of defeating him as a group. Oh, and there’s also a crazed serial killer, Victor Zsasz (Chris Messina), who carves his own face to mark each of his kills.

As for where we’ll next see Harley Quinn, she’s slated to appear in the upcoming movie —which means we might see her teaming up with Catwoman and Poison Ivy—and in as-yet-untitled film focusing on her relationship with the Joker. Robbie will also reprise the role in a “soft reboot” called , currently slated for an August 2021 release, with director James Gunn at the helm.

hits theaters February 7, 2020.

Jennifer Ouellette Jennifer Ouellette is a senior reporter at Ars Technica with a particular focus on where science meets culture, covering everything from physics and related interdisciplinary topics to her favorite films and TV series. Jennifer lives in Los Angeles.
Twitter@JenLucPiquant

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