It’s been a week since the release of DC’s newest movie Birds Of Prey (And The Fabulist Emancipation Of One Harley Quin). For those who may not know, The Birds Of Prey are a comic book team with a mix of heroes and anti-heroes. This latest movie is set up as the team’s origin in the DC Extended Universe. This establishes Black Cannery- Dinah Lance, Huntress- Helena Bertinelli and Renee Montoya as the live-action version of the Birds Of Prey very similar to the original team in comics. Let’s take a quick look into the comic books to see who Birds of Prey actually are.
The first version of the team came out in June of 1996 with Birds of Prey: Black Cannery/Oracle#1. The storyline Involved Barbara Gordan/Oracle and Dinah Laurel Lance /Black Cannery. This story against an eco-terrorist establishes the foundation not only for the team but for its comic series. While the one-shot was labeled Birds Of Prey it wasn’t until Birds of Prey: Manhunt #1 when Helena Bertinelli/ Huntress joined. This is when the iconic trio was born. The Birds of Prey Series lasted from 1996 to 2014. Over the years they have added characters most notably Poison Ivy, Catwomen, Big Barda, Batwomen and Katana. It’s noted that every version of the team always included Oracle, Black Cannery or Huntress.
The main difference between the movie team and the comic team is that Renee Montoya replaces Oracle. In the comics Oracle is the identity of Barbara Gordan taken after Joker’s story The Killing Joke. In it Joker plans to mess with her father Commissioner Gordon to make him go insane. The Joker ends up shooting Barbara Gordan in the spine thus ending her time as Batgirl. It wasn’t until DC rebooted their comics in 2011. This is where Barbara became Batgirl again. The Birds of Prey Producer Sue Kroll acknowledged in an interview that the reason Barbara Gordan was not included was because a solo Batgirl film is being planned.
Unlike Barbara Gordan, Renee Montoya doesn’t have a long comic book history. For most of her history, she was a background character in the Batman comics. It wasn’t until Batman No Man’s Land where Renee started becoming an important character.No Man’s Land is a story about an earthquake in Gotham that causes chaos. Renee was one of the characters in the event that helped organize the Gotham City Police Department. After the event, the villain Two-Face outed her sexuality to Gotham as a lesbian as revenge for not responding to his affections. In 52 week # 48, she takes on a bigger role where she takes the mantle of Vic Sage and becomes the new Question. While she is not the Question in the movie she does keep her other characteristics from the comics including her sexuality, heritage and sense of justice.
The other two members of the Birds Of Prey are very similar to their comic characters.
Dinah Lance, like in the comics she is a metahuman (person who has their superpowers from their genes) in the comic. In the movie, it was a reference that Dianah’s mother had the same Canary Cry ability. In the comic Dinahs, mother is Dinah Drake the First Black Canary in the early years of comics. Black Canary is the only member of the Birds of Prey who is not a Batman character. She is the main love interest of Oliver Queen/ The Green Arrow. While this is the first time Dinah Lance appears in a live action movie. Several versions of the Black Canary have appeared in the CW’s Arrow television show. Helena Bertinelli also appeared in one episode in the Arrow series labeled Birds Of Prey. All three versions of the characters come from the Bertinelli crime family. Like Oracle, she is a member of the Batman family. Besides Renee Montoya, she is one the least recognizable characters outside of the comics.
After the movie’s release DC has decided to change the name of the movie to Harley Quin: Birds of Prey. This is due to the fact that the movie has an 80% approval yet it has one of the lowest DC ticket sales. The marketing team thinks that using the Harley Quin name will help promote the movie since she is a prominent character in pop culture. Birds of Prey is a very successful comic series and ended up being a well reviewed movie. With the new title change, its makers hope it rises even more in popularity.