Ending Explained is a recurring series in which we explore the finales, secrets, and themes of interesting movies and shows, both new and old. In this entry, we discuss the ending of Birds of Prey.
Bacon. Egg. Cheese. A little dollop of hot sauce. Not too much. Just perfection. You know it. I know it. Harley knows it. The right sandwich can change your life.
The bodega sandwiches are why people go to New York City or Gotham. That’s pure culture. You’ll get more from one bite than a whole wing of MoMA. The entire philosophical experience of the melting pot rests on your tongue. Give us your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. They’re all right there, standing at attention between two thick slabs of fried bread.
Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn is not just some cheezy ass romp through the vilest rogue’s gallery Gotham City has to offer. No. Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn is about the cheesiest, most delicious bodega sandwich Gotham City has to offer and why Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) deserves its state of absolute nirvana because she’s finally shed herself of the worthless, self-proclaimed Clown Prince of Crime, who never really gave a shit about her as long as she was branding herself as “Daddy’s Lil Monster.”
Breakups are a bastard, but they’re necessary when you’ve reached a point and discover that your lover looks at you more like a mascot than a partner. Birds of Prey opens with Harley driving a Mack truck through the chemical factory that dared to be the site of their meet-cute, and it ends with Harley and her gang eradicating the low-rent Gotham City goon that dared to value her as no more than Joker’s moll.
The only reason Roman Sionis (Ewan McGregor) cares one iota about Harley is for how she relates to Joker. Hearing she’s no longer protected by his “love,” the mini-kingpin goes guns blazing against Harley in an effort to uplift his status. He’s an impotent little minion who doesn’t even register on Batman’s radar, let alone the Jester of Genocide. He’s so small-time, Bats knows the welp will eventually be bumped off by the other rats of Gotham or the food he thinks he’s big enough to swallow.
That’s Harley, and with a little help from her friends, she shows Roman the danger of confusing her as some Joker accessory.
The Birds of Prey assemble as a result of Sionis’ rage. As Harley clearly states in the trailer, each one of them has done something to Roman to earn the creep’s temper tantrum. Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco) robbed him, Dinah Lance (Jurnee Smollett-Bell) betrayed him, Helena Bertinelli (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) killed his BFF, and Detective Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez) was dumb enough to build a case against him.
The enemy of my enemy is my friend. It’s the only reason that could possibly explain anyone teaming up with a cracked personality like Harley’s, but as they find out rather quickly, once you’re chained together through a vengeance quest, you kind of see her bad traits as her good traits. Harley is there for you when needed. She quickly and aptly assesses how Helena’s bloodlust will never bring her catharsis, and fighting the good fight just to fight it is the only thing that will bring her peace.
Finally, operating as the Birds of Prey against Sionis’ army, a.k.a. The False Face Society, the women find their purpose as a squad. Together, they make quick work of the henchmen. Harley has the hometeam advantage with her ex’s amusement park hideout acting as the battlefield, and after a little encouragement, Dinah easily obliterates the horde using her supersonic “canary cry” scream.
Sionis nearly finagles his way out of the carnage, taking Cassandra as a hostage, but the little rascal has learned a thing or two from Harley. She reverse-pickpockets Sionis, planting a grenade in his pants but keeping the ring to herself. Pop goes the weasel.
With Roman out of the picture, a teeny-tiny void in Gotham City’s criminal empire is left in its place. It’s just big enough for Harley and Cassandra to make it on their own. They hock the Sionis diamond Cassandra knicked at the start of the film and go into business for themselves, but not before placing their mitts on a good ol’ Gotham City bodega bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich. They’ve earned their bliss.
It’s easy to imagine the sequel springing from Birds of Prey. Montoya, Lance, and Bertinelli acting as their own hit squad against those villains that fly too low to garner the Dark Knight’s attention (that dude only cares if the bad guy has a good enough gimmick, no freeze ray, and Wayne can’t be bothered). We’ll see Harley, Cassandra, and Bruce the hyena getting into schemes that are just nefarious enough to be criminal but not ghastly enough to turn an audience against them.
Of course, the next time we’ll see Harley Quinn will be in James Gunn‘s Suicide Squad sequel. Who knows what hell is out there requiring Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) to call her back into the fold, but for the first time in her “career,” the harlequin is the jester of her court. Birds of Prey‘s greatest achievement is how it removes Harley’s character from the shadow of Mr. J. She has a special brand of insanity apart from the terrifying clown, and her audience appeal is no longer linked to his.
Go get that bodega sandwich. You deserve it because we all deserve it. The pursuit of happiness is one of our fundamental rights, and anyone who challenges such notions is asking for a mallet to the face.