The art of franchise course correction is an onerous one. Star Wars creator George Lucas did his best to make amends for the horrors of Jar Jar Binks in The Phantom Menace by virtually eliminating the bumbling Gungan from Attack of the Clones – bar a brief appearance in which the hapless stalk-eyed goon rubber-stamps the rise of the evil Empire. This might have worked if Lucas hadn’t introduced whining teenager Anakin Skywalker in the same movie, as well as ruining Yoda by recreating him in CGI.
Warner Bros has already tried something similar with its current DC extended universe of comic-book movies. Faced with the backlash against a knuckle-headed, furrow-browed caped crusader in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, the studio decided to reimagine the character as a wisecracking, Marvel-style good guy in sequel Justice League. Despite the best efforts of Ben Affleck and Joss Whedon, it didn’t really work out. But it doesn’t seem to have stopped the studio trying a similar approach with its forthcoming Margot Robbie-led Harley Quinn film.
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Robbie took to Instagram this week to reveal that Cathy Yan’s film, which the Australian actor is producing, will be titled Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn). As an exercise in in-movie apologia, this is a bit like Christopher Nolan titling Batman Begins as So Long Robin (and Sorry About the Batnipples). Let us not forget that Robbie’s previous DCEU appearance, in Suicide Squad, saw Quinn punched then snogged by Batman and being roundly ogled by the camera for the rest of the movie. If its title is anything to go by, the new film seems to be repositioning Quinn as exactly what we were hoping she might have been the first time around:...
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