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Harley smiling with a gun

After a rocky start, the DC live-action universe has hit its stride with a string of movies that are both critically acclaimed and financially successful. There are some very exciting projects arriving over the next few years, starting with Cathy Yan's Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn). The upcoming blockbuster will give us a deep dive into the psyche of Margot Robbie's title character, giving her a group of friends in the process. And now the producer/star has explained why Birds of Prey doesn't include Jared Leto's Joker.

Harley Quinn was first introduced to the DCEU in David Ayer's Suicide Squad. While taking part in the villain-centric mission, she also had a side plot with The Joker, revealing his abusive behavior. But he won't be appearing in Birds of Prey, and Margot Robbie recently elaborated on this choice, saying:

It was either going to be a complete Harley and Joker story or Joker has got to be out of the picture. I really wanted to see Harley in a girl gang and I felt there was a huge gap in the market for a girl gang ensemble action film. I felt like no one was doing that and I couldn't understand why, especially a comic book movie.

That sounds about right. Harley Quinn's story on the page and screen has always been related to her boss/boyfriend Mr. J. Putting them in another movie together would be its own story. But Bird of Prey isn't the right place-- especially as it introduces so many denizens of Gotham City.

Margot Robbie's comments to Comic Book help to peel back the curtain on Birds of Prey's development process. Margot Robbie was extremely involved in the upcoming blockbuster, aside from starring as Harley Quinn. Robbie is also a producer, with her company LuckyChap Entertainment helping to make Birds of Prey a reality. She helped pitch the movie to the studio, find the director, and is now gearing up for its impending release.

When working on Birds of Prey, it was important for Margot Robbie to give Harley a group of female friends. The movie will feature the Batman villainess meeting a group of femme fatales including Black Canary, Huntress, Renee Montoya, and Cassandra Cain. Throw in their common conflict with Black Mask, and there simply wasn't the time to bring Joker physically into the story.

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While some DC fans may be eager to see Jared Leto's tattooed return to the big screen, it was probably for the best that Margot Robbie and company didn't try to squeeze him into Birds of Prey. The character failed in Suicide Squad because so much of his scenes ended up on the cutting room floor. He was regulated to a tertiary presence in the movie, and it ended up feeling out of place. Jared Leto previously expressed interest in returning to the role, although Todd Phillips' Joker might have complicated things a bit.

Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) will arrive in theaters on February 7th. In the meantime, check out our 2020 release list to plan your next trip to the movies.

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