The director of Birds of Prey And The Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn Cathy Yan said that the movie was not supposed to be a big part of the DCEU. Warner Bros’ attempt to show the puny Disney how things are done was definitely somewhat disappointing. Initially, the universe was creatively led by Zac Snyder whose artistic choices baffled some people and made others quite happy. The sad thing is that his works divided the fan base instead of uniting it to fight the common enemy — the MCU.
While the Man of Steel and Batman V Superman was financially successful and even gained some following, the fiasco that was Justice League and one of the worst additions to the DCEU portfolio Suicide Squad made it clear that a radical direction change was needed. Zac Snyder was promptly removed from the team and Walter Hamada took the leadership position instead.
Directly related to the universe Aquaman proved to be a huge hit collecting over a billion US dollars in the box office. Shazam! was warmly welcomed by the fandom and the Joker was one of the biggest hits for comic book movies as well gathering praise from both critics and fans. The Joker managed to win an Oscar for the glorious performance from Phoenix. These success stories were so hope-inspiring that we did not even expect Birds of Prey to flop.
Sadly, the movie was one of the worst money makers for the studio bringing in the lowest amount of money in the DCEU history and finishing weak (with the 4th place) in digital sales.
Now, we all remember Captain Marvel that was disliked by some fans and many critics gave it a “meh” review. However, it was tightly tied to the ongoing Infinity War crisis in the MCU and people wanted to see Easter eggs and hints at what could be happening next in the grand scheme of things. The apparent connection to the MCU allowed the movie that averages to make over a billion in the box office.
Before Birds of Prey were released in theaters, many fans were curious about ties to the DCEU. Was it worth it to watch the movie just to get a glimpse at what could have been happening behind the scenes of other highly anticipated DCEU movies like Wonder Woman 1984 and Suicide Squad 2 directed by James Gunn (The Guardians of the Galaxy)?
The movie references the DCEU by starting the plot with a breakup between the titular character and her darling Joker as well as putting a couple of mentions of Batman. However, the movie is removed from the events of other movies in the universe. Cathy Yan told the Hollywood Reporter that her intention was to keep Birds of Prey as independent from the DCEU as possible. She said that many creative decisions made in regard to the film were motivated by the character instead of the Suicide Squad team.
It should be mentioned that the execs behind the DCEU tried to follow the formula so well executed by Marvel and create an interconnected universe of films that would eventually lead to a massive blockbuster akin to Avengers. Unfortunately, even the earliest films in the franchise proved to be incapable of doing so. The absence of an underlying theme and an overarching plotline made it apparent that the idea of lumping movies together in an effort to create something cohesive was futile at best.
The suits decided to change the approach and make a bunch of good independent movies loosely connected to each other in hopes to make a team-up movie later on. So far, the strategy has been paying off. However, Birds of Prey was a tragic misstep that the studio will undoubtedly account for when planning for the future. Hopefully, it wasn’t the last time we saw Harley Quinn on the big screen!