Cathy Yan Talks About Birds of Prey’s Tone and How She Landed the Film

Birds of Prey director Cathy Yan attended the U.S.-China Entertainment Summit this week, and she shed new light on her vision for the upcoming ensemble film. Perhaps the most intriguing detail to emerge is that it will be the DCEU’s first R-rated film.

Via Deadline, Yan “did [her] homework” to convince Warner Bros. that she was the right person for the job. It goes without saying that she was an unconventional choice. After all, her debut feature, a subversive tale called Dead Pigs, is about as far removed from your typical, happy-go-lucky comic book fare as can be. Nevertheless, she was able to put together a sizzle reel that was distinctive enough to wow studio execs. “I would say it wasn’t like a lot of other sizzle reels which reference other films that remotely feel like your film,” explained Yan. “I find those to be rather pointless. But I created my own version that thematically and tonally conveyed what you would feel (in my movie).”

Yan also stated that Christina Hodson’s screenplay compelled her to pursue the gig in the first place. “I could not put the script down,” said Yan. “It had so much dark humor to it which a lot of my work does, and there are themes of female empowerment which are so strong and relatable. So I went in with, not with confidence, but at least a sense that I belonged in the room, that somehow magically in terms of timing and luck that this opportunity was open to me and I was definitely going to make the best of it.”

RELATED: Rosie Perez joins Birds of Prey as Renee Montoya

Yan wants Birds of Prey to be unique, but it is indebted to factors other than the mature rating. Most importantly, Yan’s hiring makes her the first Asian woman to direct a superhero movie. When asked if her heritage will impact the story, she replied, “Yes and no. The tone of the film is similar to that in my films. There is a half-Asian character and our screenwriter (Christina Hodson) is half Chinese and she’s sneaking little bits in.”

The half-Asian character is confirmed to be Cassandra Cain. In the comics, Cassandra is a nearly mute martial artist who eventually adopts the mantle of Batgirl. Peyton Elizabeth Lee was rumored for the role this summer, but her casting was never verified. Currently, the Birds of Prey cast includes Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Huntress, Jurnee Smollet-Bell as Black Canary, Rosie Perez as Renee Montoya, and Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn.

Birds of Prey will begin filming in January with a planned February 7, 2020 release date. What do you make of Yan’s comments? Share your thoughts below!