Have you seen Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of Harley Quinn yet in the theatres? If you haven’t, be warned, this article is full of spoilers. And you might want to watch the movie first.
While Margot Robbie pushed for this film to be made even before Suicide Squad was released, she hasn’t always been a huge comic book nerd. In fact she initially did not even know who Harley Quinn was. But throughout her research for the role, coming to understand Quinn and the comic-book world, inspired Robbie and within the role, she saw a ton of potential and a ton of stuff she loved.
She really felt an urge to make sure she did the character justice in her portrayal, knowing that fans were so passionate about Harley. She wanted to do them proud. And while I wasn’t expecting this film to have tons of easter eggs, despite the fact that us nerds often love that kind of thing, it actually did not let me down in that area.
10War Games & Crimes
War Games and it’s sequel War Crimes are both major story arcs within the Batman comic book titles. The story they tell involves a gang war between all the major criminal groups and villains in Gotham.
In the end, Black Mask ends up seizing control of Gotham, becoming the crime boss of the city and the heroes must team to stop him. During these arcs, we saw the death of Robin who at the time was Stephanie Brown at the hands of Black Mask.
We also saw Black Mask put out a bounty for Batman for 500K if brought in dead and offering more if he was brought in alive. In the film, you’ll notice not only that the storyline resembles War Games and War Crimes but that the hit he puts out for Cassandra is the same amount and has the same conditions. Though honestly, I wouldn’t trust Black Mask. He’ll likely just kill ya.
During that scene involving Harley’s magical roller derby skills, we see her a number on her arm. This number is 92 and is likely a reference to Harley’s origins. Harley Quinn was originally created as a kind of one-shot character for the Batman Animated Series in 1992 and was never intended to become as popular as she did.
But fans loved her! And so DC would go on to include her in the comic book world when they made comics based on the animated series.
From there she would go on to be fully integrated into the main continuity of the DC comic book universe, break up with Joker, join the Suicide Squad, become a Gotham City Siren, and even get her own series multiple times over.
You may have noticed in the film that Harley not only has her pet Hyena, Bruce, a nod to the two pet hyena’s Harley had in the animated series and in the comics, Bud and Lou but also has a strange taxidermied beaver lying around.
Her hyenas were originally named Bud and Lou anyways, though now we have Bruce, named after that cute Wayne guy. Bud and Lou are a reference to the Three Stooges. But her beaver is known as Bernie in the comics.
And just like in the movie, Harley often talks to him and imagines him talking back to her. This beaver is obviously a reference to his comic book counterpart, Bernie. Bernie was named after Harley’s first crush, Bernie Bash and was actually stolen by Quinn from his family so that she had something to remember him by after he got sent to juvie.
After Harley has updated her relationship status by blowing up Ace Chemicals, declaring to the world that he and the Joker are through, she ends up getting attacked by a variety of people who have grievances with her and as such, want her very much dead.
One such person that comes after her is Happy. While Happy get’s taken out by Huntress–who is on her own mission to avenge the murder of her family, the famous mob family, the Bertinelli’s–his name still made me think back.
In Birds of Prey, his grievance is that Harley and Joker tattooed his face, making him look like a clown. But the name he is given, Happy, is a reference to Nolan’s Dark Knight film where Heath Ledger’s version of the Joker had a group of clown masked thugs. One of whom was known as Happy. Dopey and Chuckles were a couple of the other thugs whose names were privy to the Nolanverse.
Near the end of the film, Harley confronts Black Mask at a location known as Founder’s Pier. It has obviously fallen into a state of disrepair. It’s wood rots away and it’s covered in treacherous holes which Quinn dexterously managed to tip-toe around.
What we also see along the pier are statues of what appear to be Gotham’s founders. The pier is shrouded in fog but despite this, you can clearly see a man in a top hat with an umbrella, likely a reference to the Cobblepots.
Keep an eye out next time you watch the film and try to see who else you can spot. It’s a great little easter egg and a nod to Gotham’s history.
After Harley breaks up with the Joker, we get a montage of the things that Harley has done since and how she’s been taking it. The montage is mostly hilarious and being cut together with shots that directly oppose what Harley is describing in voice over.
For example, she says she took the break up well and decided to leave despite the fact Joker begged her to come back, while she is seen banging on his door, crying through the front door’s window.
One that’s isn’t quite so opposite but is still hilarious. She claims she set out to make new friends. Cut to Harley participating in a roller derby.
This is a nod to the 2014 Harley Quinn series where Harley gets a job as a derby competitor and goes by the name, Killer Kwinn. Even her look is somewhat similar to the costume we see her wear in the comics.
4Cassandra Cain Coughing
In one scene Renee Montoya comes into the precinct and noticed Cassandra Cain has been taken in again for pick-pocketing. When Cassandra doesn’t respond, she asks “cat got your tongue” as Cassandra Cain coughs and struggles to get a word out, appearing to be unable to speak for a moment.
This is an obvious nod to the fact that in the comic book world, Cassandra Cain is known for not speaking. Her father raised her to read body language and use that instead of her words to communicate, training her to be an assassin and grooming her to become Ra’s Al Ghul’s bodyguard.
Yeah her mom was Lady Shiva in the comics and her dad was David Cain known for being a loyal member of the League of Assassins, pre-new-52.
In a plea to save her life when Roman threatens to kill her, Harley offers to retrieve the diamond that the Black Mask has lost and be hired as his mercenary. He agrees but not before slapping her around some while she is tied to a chair. During the beating, Harley appears to escape somewhat in a dream sequence that we cut in and out of.
She imagines herself dancing around with Black Mask, Victor Zsa’s and their gang, like a scene out of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes or Madonna’s iconic music video which also takes inspiration from Marilyn Monroe’s original sequence set to the song Diamonds Are Girl’s Best Friend.
In fact, the outfit Margot Robbie wears as Harley in the sequence is a direct nod to Marilyn’s, except Erin Benach decided to add her own spin on it, turning the dress into a glamourous pantsuit. Modern and feminine. Because call me old fashioned, but I thought the guy was supposed to get the girl the diamond.
When Harley breaks into the precinct to break out Cassandra Cain. Seeking to find the diamond she agreed to procure for Roman—though we don’t know all this just yet in the film–she uses a shotgun but fires a variety of things other than bullets.
She starts the fight sequence by shooting an officer with a small bean bag square in the face. Something else we see her use to attack the police? Mustard gas and actual mustard.
You can see the mustard shoot and splatter against the glass. This could be interpreted as a nod to one of the greatest and lamest Batman supervillains ever, Condiment King, who fights only using guns that fire condiments.
1Batman Sleeps with Bats
This reference comes at the end of the movies, after the credits. Of course, superhero movies, especially in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, have taught us to always wait around till the end to see what little surprises or teasers the film has in store for us.
DC has become no different. It was definitely worth the wait at the end of Shazam. But Birds of Prey decided to give us a secret instead of a scene. The secret that Harley Quinn shares with us and promises us to not tell anyone is that Batman ffff- but that’s all we get.
This is an obvious nod to the Harley Quinn animated series where Harley Quinn brings up pretty much the same point. But doesn’t consider it a secret there.