Margot Robbie says the male gaze has no place in Warner Bros. and DC’s Birds of Prey.
Margot Robbie recently spoke with Vogue, and one topic that came up was the upcoming Birds of Prey. This brought up the topic of the male gaze, and Vogue noted how the character of Harley Quinn is hardly the “mascot for the emancipation of women in Hollywood.”
We can definitely see this male gaze in David Ayer’s Suicide Squad. We see her Quinn dancing in sexy manner in the club, with Jared Leto’s Joker offering her up to another guy. One cannot forget her changing in the middle of the prison yard, as we catch a glimpse of her in her bra and all. There’s also the matter of her “combat outfit”: booty shorts, a tight, little top and impractical high heels. Don’t forget that trailer scene in which we see her bend over, snatching that purse. This is all epitomizes the male gaze — shots and scenes all done from a male’s perspective.
Vogue went with Margot Robbie to her trailer and noted the wardrobe as something different. She has a sequined blazer, sports bra, and orange track shorts for one scene, comparing it more to “Sporty Spice,” rather than the traditional male gaze. Not too many heterosexual men care much for a woman in a sequined blazer. This will happen when you have a female writer, director and producer. Keep in mind that Suicide Squad had a female costume designer, just like Birds of Prey. However, the difference lies in a predominantly female team behind the scenes, which gets final say in this department, not the costume designer.
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Margot Robbie herself even notes, “Yeah, it’s definitely less male gaze–y.” And perhaps, it is finally time. There is everything we know in Suicide Squad when it comes to Harley Quinn. Many fans and critics have problems with the Amazonians’ costumes in Justice League. Marvel is not innocent, either. Some may recall Black Widow’s treatment in Iron Man 2. Tony Stark helped cement this even more in the film.
It is about time that we do something about this male gaze, especially in comic book films. Women are close to half of the viewing audience now. There are plenty of great, strong female characters from these comics, and what makes them popular and awesome is not their sex appeal. Take Harley Quinn, for example. We find her exciting because of her goofy nature and antics, as well as her origin and background as a psychologist. She’s essentially a demented cartoon character. Captain Marvel was also able to find plenty of success, without being “sexy.” Wonder Woman was also a big hit, without subjecting itself to the male gaze.
It is exciting to see the progress we are making in comic book films now and in entertainment in general. I can definitely be argued that we need more women behind the set and camera to counter the traditional male perspective of women in films. And it’s safe to say Ava DuVernay is not focusing shots on Big Barda’s behind in her New Gods film.