Cathy Yan wanted Birds of Prey to fly flag for female directors

Cathy Yan

Cathy Yan felt pressure for ‘Birds of Prey’ to succeed because she is representing female filmmakers.

The 33-year-old director helmed the 2020 DC Extended Universe blockbuster – which focuses on an all-female squad of characters led by Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn – and she kept telling herself that other women would struggle to get the same opportunity if it flopped both critically and commercially.

In an interview with the New York Times newspaper, Cathy said: "Whether a little bit of that is just in our heads, I think there was pressure on ‘Birds…’. There were plenty of think-pieces about it afterwards.

"When a male-led action movie doesn’t do well, it doesn’t necessarily negate male-led action movies for the next five or 10 years. The press isn’t writing about that.

"But it’s hard not to feel that way. I felt like, female directors, Asian directors, Asian female directors – my failure would somehow preclude them from the opportunities that they deserve. That’s something that we have to bear that responsibility of."

Cathy admits her intention for the movie was to delve deeper into who Harley Quinn really is because in ‘Suicide Squad’ the character was obsessed with her boyfriend the Joker (Jared Leto).

She explained: "It was an opportunity to keep exploring the layers of Harley Quinn, because in Suicide Squad, she really is the girlfriend and it’s about her relationship with the Joker. She became a fan favourite, and Margot brought such depth to the character. But she was one member of an ensemble.

"And here, the movie is Harley – it’s implanted in Harley’s brain and seen through Harley-vision, basically. She could do anything, she could say anything. She gets to be her own hero and saviour.

"The whole movie’s about these women emancipating themselves – it doesn’t have to just be from a relationship.

It could be from their own self-doubt. It could be from a system that they don’t feel really sees them. All of the Birds go through that in some way."

‘Birds of Prey’ – which is a spin-off to 2016’s ‘Suicide Squad’ – has become the latest film to be released early on digital platforms as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and Cathy explained how she wanted the project to be centred around Harley Quinn, played by Margot Robbie.

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