During a time when superheroes like Wonder Woman, Black Widow, and Scarlet Witch demonstrate the literal ass-kicking abilities of women in action films, it's only right that superhero movies also demonstrate the abilities of creative women behind the scenes, too. Enter Cathy Yan, the female director DC hired for the Harley Quinn movie, according to Deadline. Ever since Suicide Squad premiered in 2016 to tepid reviews, the fact that Harley Quinn needed her own standalone film became instantly clear due to Margot Robbie's enthralling performance as the supervillain. As it turns out, Robbie actually played a part in ensuring Yan got the job, and for the best reason, too.
It was only right that a woman should direct a Harley Quinn-centered film, and Yan makes the perfect choice as the third female director set to helm a DCEU film. No one could forget DC's first female director, Patty Jenkins, who directed the box-office record-breaking Wonder Woman before signing on to direct the sequel for a staggering $7 million to $9 million paycheck, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Following Jenkins' success, DC announced that Ava DuVernay would direct a future New Gods film. Yan has a lot to live up to in following Jenkins and DuVernay's leads, but she is already busy breaking records herself.
As Deadline reports, Yan is the first Asian female director ever chosen for directing a superhero film. And no, the choice to direct Yan is not a "gamble" as some called Jenkins in the past — the newly appointed DC director has already directed the film Dead Pigs, which won the World Cinema Dramatic Award For Ensemble Acting at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, according to Deadline.
As for how Yan came to the illustrious position as a superhero movie director, you can thank Robbie herself. According to Deadline, the actor "held firm to her desire for this film to be directed by a woman." Can everyone just take a minute to commend Robbie for exemplifying exactly how women can — and should — advocate for one another? While an actor shouldn't necessarily have to jeopardize their own paycheck in order to force a studio to consider female directors, it sure works when they actually do that.
Back in December, Robbie discussed her role as a producer for Warner Bros.' DCEU with Metro. She explained, "The most important thing as a producer is it’s your job when you pick your director to stand by your director." Robbie also added, "A good producer trusts their director, and their job is to enable that director’s vision. That’s it. That’s your job. If that’s your director’s vision you need to do everything in your power to make that possible. And I think that’s a wonderful thing." Clearly, Robbie understands the power she has as a producer, and she used that power for good, unlike Harley Quinn most of the time.
The Harley Quinn movie is currently being called the Birds of Prey project, though the official title is not yet confirmed. The name refers to the DC comic which includes an all-female crime fighting team — the "Birds of Prey" — consisting of Quinn, Black Canary, Batgirl, and Huntress, Vulture reported. Not only will the Birds of Prey film have Yan directing, but it also has a female writer behind it, as Vulture also reported that Christina Hodson, who wrote the Transformers spinoff, Bumblebee, will also write the Birds of Prey movie. Hodson will also write DC's Batgirl movie, which Joss Whedon had originally planned to write before backing out, claiming that he couldn't think of a story, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
The news that Yan will direct the Harley Quinn-starring Birds of Prey means that giant studios like DCEU are finally catching onto the fact fans crave movies made by a more diverse group of directors. The fact that DCEU now has not one, not two, but major three female-directed superhero movies in the pipeline proves that change, as slowly as it may come, can happen eventually.
Based on the fact that Yan directed a film that earned rave reviews following its premiere at Sundance earlier this year, it seems like Harley Quinn is in great hands. Perhaps Marvel will follow DC's lead and appoint a female director to one of its upcoming big-budget films. The more women behind the camera, the better, especially because superhero movies are all about breaking down barriers — often literally. Yan will do just that with the Birds of Prey film, proving that she's a true superhero herself.