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Cathy Yan “Would Have Loved to Have More Control” on Birds of Prey

Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn in Birds of Prey

Cathy Yan recently spoke with The Playlist about her experience directing Birds of Prey and the pressure of working with a studio on such a big project.

“It was definitely challenging,” said Yan. “And I think when you’re dealing with a budget like [‘Birds of Prey’ had] and the sort of pressures of a studio, especially a studio that is undergoing a lot of change, inevitably you end up having to compromise and fight for stuff. And you win some and you lose a lot. It’s just kind of how it is.”

The director continued, saying, “I would have loved to have more control over the edit [of ‘Birds of Prey’].”

Yan’s interview continues a trend of Warner Bros./DC filmmakers having a complicated relationship with the studio and how it handles their work. There is, infamously, the “SynderCut” of the film Justice League, but Suicide Squad director David Ayer has made similar statements. When Ayer spoke about his own dissatisfaction, Yan was one the people who backed him.

In the interview, she continued that, saying, “I do know that there was a very different tone of movie that [Ayer] had planned for ‘Suicide Squad’ that never really made it.”

Patty Jenkins has talked about the changes that the studio wanted to make to Wonder Woman 1984 that she pushed back against. (For the record, I actually agree with the studio wanting to cut the mall scene and amazon olympics in the larger scheme of the movie).

It just emphasizes that you need a certain level of clout to be able to advocate for yourself in that environment, which would be even harder for a director like Yan, who is both a woman and a woman of color.

“I don’t know if there’s a Cathy Yan cut out there,” Yan expressed, “but I think for any filmmaker, all of us are in it because we want to express ourselves as wholly as possible. And to match what you ultimately see on screen with what’s in our head.”

Just as a fan of the movie, I am disappointed that Yan’s vision was not fully realized. I certainly think that, initially, the film was less Harley-focused and did more with the ensemble, but the studio wanted more Harley. On the one hand, I think Margot Robbie’s Harley is my favorite in this film, but I also love the Birds of Prey and think the movie would have been stronger if they’d gotten to do more.

Ultimately, Yan is glad she got to make a big movie like BoP:

“I actually very much did it because I thought the script was interesting. And the fact that I got the chance to depict women, especially female superheroes, in a way that we haven’t really seen before, like neither perfect nor weak, you know? I think it’s [typically] either-or really. I enjoyed that challenge of being able to subvert the genre a little bit.”

And I am glad she got to make it, as well.

(via The Playlist, image: Warner Bros.)

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Princess (she/her-bisexual) is a Brooklyn born Megan Fox truther, who loves Sailor Moon, mythology, and diversity within sci-fi/fantasy. Still lives in Brooklyn with her over 500 Pokémon that she has Eevee trained into a mighty army. Team Zutara forever.