Although DC’s on-screen universe has varied dramatically in both its financial and critical success it has slowly but surely been building an interconnected movie-verse. Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn is the latest and comes with plenty of nods to other movies and the comic book origins. In this post, we’re taking a look at the Birds of Prey’s Best Easter Eggs, References, and Cameos.
Harley decided to announce her break-up to the world by destroying ACE Chemicals. The chemical plant has appeared throughout the DCEU but featured most prominently in Suicide Squad where Harley flashed back to her origins. Comic book fans will know the Ace Chemicals building as the birthplace of both Harley Quinn and the Joker himself, with the sinister chemicals giving them their iconic pale skin.
Although the Joker doesn’t quite appear in the movie, his legacy and relationship with Harley is almost a character in itself. The two scenes that almost feature the Joker make use of reused footage from Harley’s origin in Suicide Squad – where Joker lifts Harley from the acid, the corner of Jared Leto’s face can just be seen. The next scene shows the back of Joker’s head as he and Harley forcibly tattoo a henchmen’s face.
Gotham City Landmarks
As well as Ace Chemicals, other famous Gotham landmarks such as Amusement Mile, Founders Pier (which could relate to Founders Island from the Arkham games) and Robinson’s park either appear or are mentioned. The disused fairground known as Amusement Mile is often the location for Joker’s schemes in the comics and is the setting for much of the final act of the film. Robinson’s Park is a nod to Jerry Robinson, the Joker’s co-creator. The park has appeared frequently in the comics and gets a reference in 2019’s Joker.
Black Mask’s henchmen is a new take on the Batman villain Victor Zsasz. Played by Chris Messina, Zsasz is usually a more stereotypically insane serial killer who cuts his body for each of his victims. In Birds of Prey Zsasz is instead Black Mask’s key enforcer and right-hand man (although he is definitely still unhinged, to say the least). Despite being different in many ways Messina’s Zsasz still has a fondness for knives and shows off his many scars.
As Harley tries to reinvent herself she joins a Roller Derby team. This is taken straight from the run of comics by Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner from 2013 to 2016. In the movie version, Harley’s number is ’92’ which is the year she first debuted in Batman: The Animated Series.
Black Mask’s backstory is hinted at throughout the film, and Harley gives the villain more than one psychological evaluation. During one of them, Harley mentions Roman Sionis being fired from his father’s company, Janus. Janus can then be seen on a poster later in the film and featured in the opening scene of Justice League. In the comics Roman runs Janus Cosmetics, which is named after the Two-face Roman god, referring Sionis’ secret identity as the Black Mask.
Harley explains that her Hyena is named Bruce after ‘that hunky Wayne guy’, referring to Batman’s secret identity Bruce Wayne. Although Ben Affleck is no longer portraying Batman in the DCEU, at this point Wayne would be an established Gotham socialite and playboy by day, and Batman by night. Harley having a Hyena is also straight from the animated series, where she and Joker have two pet Hyenas named Bud and Lou (named after Abbott and Costello)
The Original Harley
A brief clip of the tv soap Days of Our Lives can be seen on Renee Montoya’s tv. This clip shows Arleen Sorkin dressed as a harlequin, it was this scene that inspired Harley’s creation in the first place and led to Arleen Sorkin voicing the character for her debut in Batman: The Animated Series.
Injustice and Harley’s Holiday
As Harley enters the Gotham City Police Department to capture Cassandra Cain, she wears a black overcoat, hat, sunglasses and a purple scarf to conceal her identity. This outfit and sequence is taken straight from the Injustice comics books, and the hat could be seen as an extra nod to the Batman: The Animated Series episode Harley’s Holiday.
Bernie the Beaver
Along with a Hyena named Bruce Harley also has a stuffed Beaver named Bernie. Harley talks to Bernie as if he talks back, and is taken from the same Harley Quinn comics run that started in 2013.
Marilyn Monroe and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
As Black Mask prepares to kill Harley Quinn, he hits her. This induces a hallucination for Harley which sees a recreation of the famous sequence from Marilyn Monroe in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, where she sings “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend” which was glimpsed in the trailer.
The Gentlemen Prefer Blondes homage doubles as a clever Moulin Rouge! easter egg as well. Both the scene in Harley’s mind and Moulin Rouge star Ewan McGregor, and the song “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend”. The song is sung by Nicole Kidman’s character Satine as Ewan McGregor’s Christian first sees her in Moulin Rouge. Kidman plays Queen Atlanna, Aquaman’s mother in the DCEU.
As Harley breaks into the Gotham City Police precinct she notices a wanted poster for Captain Boomerang and says “I know him”. Jai Courtney’s George “Digger” Harkness a.k.a Captain Boomerang featured alongside Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn in 2016’s Suicide Squad, which also gets a nod when Harley mentions being let out of prison and having a bomb put into her neck.
For more Birds of Prey (And The Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) check out the trailer below.