While 2016 supervillain movie Suicide Squad wasn’t exactly a hit with fans or critics, it did at least introduce the world to Margot Robbie’s take on Harley Quinn, a clown-themed baddie and love interest to Batman foe the Joker who gained new mainstream popularity as a member of the squad.
Now, Harley’s got her own spin-off in all-woman team-up movie Birds of Prey – and despite the film’s theme of Harley striking out on her own, she clearly hasn’t forgotten where she came from, with a few subtle references tying the story to Suicide Squad.
To start off with, Harley’s relationship with The Joker, as played by Jared Leto in Suicide Squad (and not to be confused with the recent Joaquin Phoenix version) hangs heavily over the film.
While we don’t really see the Joker himself beyond an animated intro (where he looks more like his classic comic-book iteration) and a couple of scenes featuring the back of his head it’s clear that this the version Harley has recently broken up with is supposed to be the Leto version of the character.
When you do see his body double (for example, in a brief flashback where he and Harley tattoo somebody) his hair is styled in the same way as Leto’s Clown Prince of Crime, while flashbacks to Harley’s origin almost exactly match the same scenes shown between the two characters in Suicide Squad.
Jared Leto “The Joker”; Warner Bros. Pictures
And Leto’s not the only Suicide Squad alumnus to have a subtle cameo in the film. At one point while attacking a police station Harley notes a wanted poster for Jai Courtenay’s George ‘Digger’ Harkness, aka Boomerang, who appeared in the 2016 film and is set to reunite with Robbie for James Gunn’s upcoming sequel/reboot The Suicide Squad.
“Hey, I know that guy!” she notes, before continuing on her rampage, possibly hinting towards Gunn’s now-filming movie.
Elsewhere, while Birds of Prey’s plot doesn’t relate very closely to that of Suicide Squad, Harley does note the earlier film’s events as part of her life story, describing to young protégé Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco) how she was at one point captured by Batman, incarcerated, had a bomb placed in her neck, saved the world then was incarcerated again, before the Joker broke her out (which is where Suicide Squad leaves the character).
Finally, Harley has also saved the burned and battered ‘Daddy’s Little Monster’ T-Shirt she wore in Suicide Squad for “sentimental” reasons, as revealed just before Birds of Prey’s last battle. Though much like the 2016 film itself, it ends up put aside and ignored when it comes to getting on with Birds of Prey’s big finale.
Birds of Prey is in UK cinemas now