Birds of Prey is a superhero movie that prides itself on offering a grounded, realistic take on action in a comic book movie. The one fantastical element was Black Canary's canary cry, which are concussive shockwaves of sound that the character can emit as an enemy offensive. In an interview with Art of VFX, WETA Digital's VFX Supervisor Thrain Shadbolt, who worked on the film, revealed the complicated process behind bringing the cry to life.
"We had to do some creative exploration here. The essential challenge was how to visualise a superpower that is defined as shockwaves of sound, in an original way. There was prior art in the comics as to how the Canary Cry looks, as well as in the Birds of Prey and Arrow TV series. So we took a look at these, along with other interesting references from the real world, like various shockwaves and explosions."
"We wanted to find an effect that looked like it could be a plausible physical event, and not something too magical. In our initial tests we tried a number of different styles for the 'Cry', from smoky and dusty, through glassy and refractive, to more electric. Eventually Greg [Steele, VFX Supervisor] and Cathy settled on a subtle combination of these various aspects."
The Black Canary we see in Birds of Prey is far removed from her comics counterpart. Here, Canary has no relation whatsoever with Oliver Queen, but instead works as a lounge singer for Roman Sionis, before graduating to becoming his personal driver and enforcer after displaying her fighting skills during an alley brawl.
Canary's sonic superpowers from the comics are only hinted at throughout the movie, until the climax. Surrounded by armed men, with Sionis getting away with Cassandra Cain as hostage, Canary finally unleashes her cry on the gunmen, knocking them all out together, and giving Harley enough of a push to catch up with Roman on her skates.
In keeping with the vibe of the movie, the canary cry is shorn of any hyperrealistic aspects, but instead resembles the sound waves created by actual sonic weapons used by defense forces.
Despite the changes to the comics character, fans praised this new iteration of Black Canary aka Dinah Lance. The movie served a similar purpose for all the main heroines, taking them away from the influence of their male counterparts that they first appeared beside in comics, like Batman, Joker, and Green Arrow, and setting them up as their own unique individuals.
Unfortunately, the poor reception to the film at the box office means the chances of a sequel to the film getting greenlit are faint. However, director Cathy Yan has already expressed enthusiasm for making a sequel and has even revealed that she would like to bring in another famous gal pal of Harley's from the comics, the queen of the plant world, Poison Ivy. Hopefully, the film will eventually see the light of day. This comes from ArtofFX.