We’ve covered Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) from a variety of different angles this week, from Tori’s original review to contributor Dana Jones’s piece about how the box-office-disappointment narrative is overblown to Kristy’s investigation into the film’s gay representation to Jodi’s parents’ guide about the movie’s R rating. It’s all good! You should read it all! And here, I’ll throw my hat into the ring with this take: Of course Harley is a hot girl for Bernie Sanders. Is anyone really surprised?
Harley’s (Margot Robbie) political leanings are revealed when she’s captured by Ewan McGregor’s rich kid club owner and crime lord Roman Sionis, who, along with his primary henchman Victor Zsasz (Chris Messina, rocketing up the list of Best Chrises), has a number of grievances against Harley. Everyone does, really, but Roman, more than most.
She’s been getting trashed at his club, starting fights, insulting customers, and generally making a ruckus. And so when director Cathy Yan flashes Roman’s list of grievances against Harley onscreen, you’ll recognize most of his complaints—like how Harley jumped on his driver’s legs, breaking them—but you might be surprised by the fact that Roman is also pissed Harley “voted for Bernie.”
THIS REVEAL RAISES SO MANY QUESTIONS. Yan has credited the character development detail to screenwriter Christina Hodson, telling The Wrap:
“I think the Bernie thing, I’ll give full credit to Christina on that one. And we all just chuckled at it so we thought, why not? And I think tonally and stylistically this is a movie that can afford that kind of stuff, and a little bit of self-awareness — or a lot of self-awareness, I should say. And not a lot of movies get to make a Bernie joke, so sure, let’s do it.”
And also telling The Washington Post:
“We always knew we wanted to have this string-out of ridiculous things that Roman would get upset at Harley for, so we just kept throwing things out there,” Yan said.
So, if Bernie exists in the DC Extended Universe, then I’m assuming this means Hillary Clinton does too, along with Trump, who I am assuming Roman voted for, given both his and our current president’s extreme misogyny. Because hey, another grievance of Roman’s against Harley is that she just so happens to be a woman, as if her entire female existence is offensive to him, and that sounds pretty Trumpian to me.
But why would Harley vote for Bernie? I can’t find any interviews that specifically ask Yan follow-up questions about that, but I’m sure various elements of Bernie’s platform would appeal to Harley. Voting rights for felons and the incarcerated, absolutely; Harley would want her voice to be heard. Ditto on decriminalizing recreational marijuana; there’s no way she doesn’t support that. Stopping all deportations? I think Harley would imagine that anyone deserves a chance at a new life and better opportunities, no matter where they come from. I can see Harley being sympathetic to fighting climate change, although she acquires an illegally sold hyena whom she names Bruce, because we see how decrepit and abandoned the pier where the film’s final fight scene takes place is — maybe that’s because of shifting shorelines affecting Gotham City, and maybe Harley is worried about that!
Universal health care, absolutely! Excuse me, her full name and title is Dr. Harleen Frances Quinzel! She’s seen both professionally and personally how underserved people suffering from mental illness are in Gotham! Harley is pretty gleeful in doling out violence, but hey, sometimes you gotta go to the hospital and hope that you don’t go bankrupt because of it! I’m not sure where Harley would stand on registering gun purchases, because while she does use guns in Birds of Prey, that’s mostly atypical—she shoots a mercenary to protect Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco), but otherwise is more of an oversized mallet kind of broad.
And there is a hiccup later in the film when Harley explains to Cain that she doesn’t pay federal income taxes—which is like, very much what Bernie’s campaign is about—but I could see Harley refusing to pay taxes as some sort of moral fuck-you to a government she doesn’t think represents her, and isn’t the entire point of Bernie Sanders’s whole campaign that he will represent those who feel disenfranchised and left behind? Actually, then, this sort of checks out!
Or maybe it’s way simpler than all this. Maybe Harley just likes that she and Bernie have the same broad Brooklyn accent. Maybe she felt seen in that.
Can someone find Christina Hodson and interrupt her work on the upcoming The Flash and Batgirl to ask her about this, please? Before I lose my mind from wondering about it? Thank you! And yes, go see Birds of Prey this weekend.
Header Image Source: Warner Bros. MediaPass