Birds of Prey is in theaters now, and the film's performance at the box-office has been underwhelming to say the least. It has had the lowest opening for a DC film since Jonah Hex, and while critics have been praising the movie's action and characters, many fans of the comics which form the basis for the characters have been less enthused. Recently, Gail Simone, who penned the Birds Of Prey DC comic series for many successful years expanded upon her issues with the film in a series of tweets.
Okay, I want to have a talk about one aspect of the @birdsofpreywb movie that I was withholding judgment on, that did bug me. I think it’s pretty obvious I loved it, but I do have a sizable gripe.— GAIL SIMONE (@GailSimone) February 7, 2020
However, that is only meaningful in a larger context.
So mute this, maybe. :)
Right off the bat, Gail Simone let her followers know that her issues with the movie were too lengthy to be contained in a single tweet, and instead required an entire thread to be properly unpacked, starting with a particular character whose depiction in the movie rubbed Simone the wrong way.
"All right, so, to the thing that does stand out, that I wish had gone another way? It's not Barbara. The Birds Of Prey can function with different line-ups. And she was never going to be in this film, it just wasn't in the cards. It's Cass. ... I have held back commenting on this, mostly, because I wanted to see for myself. But essentially, this Cassandra Cain is a new character. I like her, she's fun to watch, the actress is adorable (Ella Jay Basco) is great in the role. But she bears no resemblance to Cass. I don't think of it as an insult so much as a missed opportunity."
In the comics, the Birds Of Prey vigilante outfit was established and run by Barbara Gordon AKA The Oracle AKA Batgirl. Excluding her from the movie lineup was considered tantamount to sacrilege by some fans, and they let their displeasure be known. But for Simone, the new take on Cassandra Cain in the movie, where she is depicted as a street smart but still very young and vulnerable pickpocket was the true misfire. The writer further elucidated her point.
"Like basically all of the Asian martial arts characters of that era at the big two (I do not exclude myself from this at all), there's stuff in her early stores that reeks of exoticism and more. Fair enough. But she became so much more. She was also one of the first truly successful solo Asian heroes at either company.
Her struggles with speech and reading and socialization were hugely meaningful to so many people. I love Cass dearly, and this is not a Cass I recognize. I think it was an easy fix, just give her a different name. It's possible that they didn't want another voiceless Asian flawless goddess assassin, and that's perfectly fair, but it would have been the same movie character if they had named her Nancy Floogenbottom, not Cass."
The Cassandra Cain from the comics was a superhero in her own right, and even donned the mantle of Robin at one point. So it is understandable that Simone was less than thrilled to see her reduced to the role of the helpless kid in need of saving by the others. But Simone conceded she herself has not always done a very good job of writing the character in the past.
"So that was my only major gripe. I love Cass, I think she's very special and precious as a character. However not everyone writes her well and the first TWO times I wrote her, I messed it up completely (bugs me to this day)."
With her main gripe out of the way, it was time to address another complaint fans have of the movie, that it completely changes the iconic look and feel of Black Canary from the comics.
"Which leads me to my final point...And this is a big one. When we say, 'that's not Black Canary from the comics,' well, okay, true. But it's also cherry picking. We are comparing it only to the stories you liked best, the absolutely most memorable, top shelf stuff."
But it wasn't all bad things. Gail Simone also had plenty of positive stuff to say about the way the film handled other characters like the Huntress.
"My feeling is, with Canary and Harley and Huntress, they gave us fresh, updates takes layered on top of EXACTLY what I love in the comics. Is Huntress quirky from years of isolation? Does vengeance leave her empty? Yes. That IS Huntress. Her awkwardly making friends IS Helena."
And there you have it. For once, it is not just the fanboys who are complaining about the problems with a female superhero film, complaints which are all too easily dismissed by Hollywood as misogynistic anti-women trolling. Instead, the female writer of the comics the film is based on has also thrown her hat in the ring and suggested perhaps the movie could have done a better job of staying true to the spirit of the comics, while praising other aspects. It will be interesting to see what the response of the film's cast and crew will be to Simone's comments, if any. This news comes from Gail Simone's Official Twitter.