Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) director Cathy Yan presents a new, slightly skewed vision of Gotham City in the film - one not based in Batman's larger than life presence, but grounded in Harley's street level perspective.
"I knew I wanted to create a different type of Gotham, through Harley’s eyes, that we hadn’t really seen before. You know, Batman’s Gotham is very much those bold, high, art deco towers — like downtown Manhattan," Yan told Variety. "I was thinking this Gotham should feel different. It’s Harley Quinn’s world. It’s a little scrappier, it’s a little more outer borough. On top of that, I also wanted to make sure that it felt heightened and colorful. It’s gritty, but at the same time, people are having fun. People haven’t given up yet. It’s not a sad world where nothing works."
Yan, a first time studio director, based her vision for the film partially on her own experiences getting into directing independent films.
"I related it to my personal growth. It’s about Harley as well as the other Birds coming into their own, recognizing that they are stronger together than they are apart," Yan explained. "I gravitated to that feeling. I felt like I was going through a lot of similar self-awareness, realizing that like, yeah, I can be a director, I can do this. Finally settling into that confidence."
And Yan received direct support from her superhero director peers - including Wonder Woman 1984 director Patty Jenkins.
"I had such institutional support from the get go. But at the same time, every day, I remember being very concerned about, like, I’ve never done this before," Yan said. "I actually called up Patty Jenkins during prep and I’m like, 'What am I doing?' [Laughs] She told me, 'You’ve got to remember that no one knows this movie as much as you. That’s what makes you the director.' And that was really, really helpful."
Birds of Prey is due out in theaters February 7.