DC Has Chosen an Amazing Obscure Director For the “Harley Quinn” Movie

Matthew Loffhagen
Warner Bros
(Photo: Warner Bros)

Wow, well played DC! Your choice of director for “Birds of Prey”, the upcoming Harley Quinn movie, is pretty unexpected.

Initially, the plan had been for the (somewhat terrible) David Ayer to direct the movie. He’s instead doing “Suicide Squad 2”, so Warner Bros has been in the market for a new creator to helm this project.

Nobody could possibly have guessed that Cathy Yan would land the job. The director has just a single feature length movie to her name, and wouldn’t you know it, it’s not been released yet.

Someone from DC must have gone to Sundance, seen “Dead Pigs” while there, and figured that Yan has enough originality and creativity to do justice to a female-led superhero movie.

Sounds like Yan has some serious directing chops, and personally, I now really, really want to see “Dead Pigs”!

Yan is a bold choice for Warner Bros. She’s not very established, but she’s making waves for comedy projects that tend to stand out from the crowd – not least because she’s unflinching in her efforts to portray Asian cultures that tend to be overlooked by mainstream Hollywood.

One can only hope that she won’t be forced to sacrifice some of this has she heads into the DCEU.

This casting choice feels like something of a reaction to DC’s sole popular movie of the past few years. “Wonder Woman” has been celebrated for its female director, and considering how badly it’s worked out every time a man has shot anything in the DCEU, it makes sense that the studio will now want to try giving a chance to some less established female creators.

After all, what’s the worst that can happen? In a cinematic universe that includes “Batman v Superman”, the only way is up!

The danger here is that Warner Bros might be hoping to take advantage of Yan’s relative obscurity and inexperience.

The Downside of Obscurity

It’s not uncommon for studios to give an indie director a big budget production. “Jurassic World”, “Fantastic Four”, and “Godzilla” are three very different examples of what happens when a smalltime moviemaker is handed the reins to a major tentpole franchise.

Fantastic Four Wig
Source: 20th Century Fox

Studios tend to like these directors because they’re malleable. An experienced director will stand their ground when creative control issues arise, while someone newer might be more willing to budge on studio requests.

I can only hope that DC’s plan here isn’t to try and win street cred by hiring a woman of color to direct “Birds of Prey” (or whatever the movie gets called) only to force her to make a cookie-cutter, incredibly generic action film.

Seriously, DC, if you’re going to hire a quirky comedy director whose body of work is filled with stuff that Hollywood would never greenlight, then maybe it’s best not to force a square peg into a round hole.

Here’s hoping “Birds of Prey” turns out to be as unique as it could potentially be, considering the new director at the helm of the project.

Good luck Cathy Yan, because something tells me dealing with Warner Bros is going to cause you a lot of grief!