×

How Batman Movies Influenced the Design of ‘Birds of Prey’

When you’re a production designer, and your mood board is the mental state of the film’s lead character, it seems like the creative world is your oyster. When the lead character is Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn, that’s a creative world where all bets are off.

“I approached everything through her ditzy, glitzy, analytical, yet throwaway, approach to absorbing the world,” explains K.K. Barrett, the man responsible for creating the world of “Birds of Prey.”

There is nothing subtle about Harley Quinn. Barrett adds, “It’s almost like you’re telling a crazy story to someone that goes off on a tangent, and you have to keep pulling it back and focusing it.

Barrett and director Cathy Yan had to find places in Los Angeles that felt like Gotham. “We had to avoid trees, especially palm trees and grass,” Yan says.

The Arts District and parts of Downtown Los Angeles served as Gotham City for the film.

Barrett says, “The design aesthetic is always trying to add shade to a character that perhaps isn’t touched on in dialogue, yet shows a different side to who they are.”

Popular on Variety

Roman Sionis’ (Ewan McGregor) loft and club are examples where he tried to show that. “I kept playing with the idea of suppression and didn’t want the club to have a name,” Barrett says.

Instead, he chose statues of the symbols of “See no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil.” The plan was for the statues to frame the stage, but Barrett wasn’t excited by the aesthetic. He settled on the statues filling the stage. “That was very Roman; suppression, winking and peeking with a touch of S&M.”

When it came to harnessing elements of previous versions into the film’s visuals, the most obvious version was to look at “Suicide Squad.” Yan embraced David Ayer’s dynamic street style and took some of Harley’s aesthetic. “Her mallet and bat are the same, and her tattoos are the same, but we have fun with them.”

Yan also took from Christopher Nolan’s movies. “They’re much darker versions of Gotham,” she says. She also looked to Joel Schumacher, picking out his camp and colorful versions of the city. “It’s all in there,” Yan says. “It’s a weird combination of the movies before it.”

More Film

  • 'Charlatan' Review: Agnieszka Holland Shows Faith

    'Charlatan': Film Review

    At several points in “Charlatan,” the camera looks glossily on as our protagonist holds small bottles of amber liquid to the light, academically scrutinizing their contents as they beam a light golden glow onto his features: an effect both ennobling and almost romantic. The man is Jan Mikolášek, a famous Czech herbalist and healer with [...]

  • Toho Cinemas at Tokyo Midtown Hibiya

    Japanese Cinemas To Refund Tickets in Virus Response

    In response to the coronavirus crisis, the Japanese film industry has begun to delay releases, close theaters and refund ticket purchases. The releases of the new “Doraemon” and “Jimaro” feature animations targeted at kids out of school for the spring break, have been delayed. The former was scheduled to open March 6, the latter on [...]

  • Blood on Her Name

    Film Review: ‘Blood on Her Name’

    In the opening moments of “Blood on Her Name,” an arrestingly twisty and suspenseful Southern noir thriller in the tradition of “One False Move,” we’re introduced to Leigh, the working-class protagonist played by Bethany Anne Lind, with a jarring close-up that is at once explicit and ambiguous. Her face is battered, her breathing is labored, [...]

  • Liev Schreiber Broadway

    Film News Roundup: Liev Schreiber Joins Will Smith's Tennis Drama 'King Richard'

    In today’s film news roundup, Liev Schreiber and retired pro footballer Vernon Davis score roles, Jason Blum will speak at his alma mater, Irish drama “Rialto” finds a U.S. distributor and “1917” hits a box office milestone. CASTINGS Liev Schreiber will portray tennis coach Paul Cohen in Warner Bros.’ “King Richard” opposite Will Smith. Reinaldo [...]

  • AMC theater

    AMC Entertainment Reports Mixed Fourth-Quarter Results

    AMC Entertainment has reported mixed fourth-quarter results, which saw revenues rise 2.4% to $1.45 billion, despite a 4.4% drop in U.S. attendance to 62.3 million. The exhibitor, owned by Dalian Wanda Group, announced a fourth-quarter loss of $13.5 million, compared to a year-earlier profit of $170.6 million, due to $84.3 million of expense related to [...]

  • 'Straight Up' Review: James Sweeney's Gay

    'Straight Up': Film Review

    There’s a tradition in movies, as vital as a hypnotic action scene or a swooning love scene, of dialogue so witty and nimble and rapid-fire that it comes at you like something out of a stylized dream. I first encountered that brand of high-velocity verbal jousting in “A Hard Day’s Night,” and later on in [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content