Birds of Prey (or to give it its full title, Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)) has had a rocky few weeks. A leaked plot report indicated that Ewan McGregor’s take on Batman villain Black Mask may play into homophobic stereotypes, with the story apparently revolving around the character’s stolen dick pics.
That came on top of reports that Warner Bros. are concerned about how the project is shaping up. Now, this concern may have taken another step forward today, as we’re hearing that John Wick director Chad Stahelski is reshooting some of the film’s action sequences with Birds of Prey‘s credited director, Cathy Yan, on second unit duties.
Reports say that Stahelski is busy reworking the action scenes to improve them, using the skills he displayed to winning effect across the John Wick trilogy. He has an astonishing track record for stunt work over the last two decades, too, including being Keanu Reeves’ stunt double in The Matrix trilogy and moving forward into his own directing and stunt coordinating on Ninja Assassin.
He then went on to co-direct the original John Wick alongside David Leitch, before being the sole director on the following sequels. Now, it seems that he’s in charge of the action scenes in Birds of Prey. Margot Robbie recently claimed that these contained some of the most impressive stunts she’s ever worked on, too, which should indicate that something special’s in the offing.
Still, it is somewhat worrying that Cathy Yan seems to have been sidelined here. I’m seeing echoes of the kind of studio direction that had Lucrecia Martel turn down directorial duties on Black Widow due to Marvel Studios explaining that someone else would be taking care of the film’s action sequences. If I were a director, I’d be annoyed that another person was handling some of the most important sequences in my movie, so I’d imagine there’s more than a little tension behind the scenes right now.
But what matters to us is the finished product. As such, let’s hope that when Birds of Prey hits cinemas on February 7th, 2020, this change of directors will be invisible.