Pitchgiving 2021, part 12: Batwomen

Prologue

White text tells us this happened fifteen years ago.

Batwoman, recognizable because of her bright red hair, as a child, is sitting in the backseat of a car with her identical twin, Beth. Gabi Kane, their mother, is driving, dressed in military clothing. Side-pitch: since this is a women-focused story, but also just because it plays against type and I think it would add to the diversity of the DCmovieU, I’d suggest gender-swapping the parents. For the pitch I’ll assume we keep it as it has been, but I strongly feel that would be the better story.

“You need to tell them, Jacob,” Gabi insists to Kate’s father, who is in the passenger seat. “It’s the only way they can protect themselves.” He unbuckles his seatbelt, to lean back and talk to them. He hesitates, not knowing where to begin. Gabi intercedes. “Your father is doing important work. Bad people have been infiltrating the military, people who don’t think our country should be for all kinds of people, regardless of color, creed, or who they are.”

“Right,” Jacob takes over. “I’m heading up an investigation into those people. And because of the duty I’ve agreed to carry out, those bad people and their friends have been making threats. Against me, against your mother,” he has trouble forcing himself to say the next words, until Gabi takes his hand, “and against the two of you. And I didn’t, I haven’t known how to tell you. Because you’re too young to have to know how awful the world can be. But my first duty is to protect you, and the best way to do that is to tell you to be careful. These bad people can look just like you or me. They might come dressed in BDUs. They might talk the talk, they might even have a life of military service under their belt. But if you ever have a question, whether or not someone is safe, you ask me, you ask your mother, and we’ll tell you straight, even if the answer is we don’t know, and you need to be wary. Can I trust you girls to be on overwatch for me?”

The girls stiffen up, and tell them, “Yes, sir.” They barely get time to recognize his smile, because Gabi shoves him  back into his seat, and we now see a large dump truck barreling down on them before it hits. We see broken images, as Kate goes in and out of consciousness. Gunmen in black paramilitary gear violently open the car doors. One shoots Gabi Kane in the head as she resists (feebly, because she’s groggy from the airbag). On the other side, one of them tells Jacob he was told what would happen if he persisted, and Jacob is smacked in the face with the butt of a rifle. A bag is shoved over Kate’s head, and we cut to black, and modern day.  

It’s a dark, stormy night. Commissioner Gordon is speaking to the Mayor, trying to convince her that she’s going to be safe, that his men can handle, “a little weasel like Jervis Tetch.” He’s got half the S.W.A.T. team on the mansion grounds, anything short of Batman wouldn’t be able to- he stops, because two of the S.W.A.T. officers are suddenly there, deserting their posts on the perimeter. Gordon prepares to give them a dressing down, when he notices the vacant look in their eyes, and tells the Mayor to get behind him, as he pulls his gun.

We cut to the aftermath, as Batgirl and Batwoman patrol the scene, one-upping one another as they reconstruct the events from the evidence. There’s an added layer, as Batgirl is concerned about her missing father; the rivalry is mostly a distraction from that worry for her; for Batwoman, it’s very much that while she’s trained, and older, she’s also green, looking to prove herself. But we start at the point that Gordon put a bullet into the door frame. Batwoman insists he missed. Batgirl assumes, correctly, that the first was a warning shot, an attempt to roust them from their stupor. When it didn’t work, he gave each man a flesh wound. But there were more of them, other officers flooded into the room. Gordon put up a fight, trying to protect the Mayor long enough for her to get away, but that’s when Mad Hatter himself showed up (casting suggestion: Jack McBreyer, Kenneth from 30 Rock; watch him in the ’21 season of Nailed It, he’s a manic little chaos gremlin who would be perfect for the role and also kind of looks the part). Gordon was attacked by a new player, a woman, judging by the height difference, and the hole left in the drywall by her heel. Gordon was overwhelmed; blood on the scene is his type, but there’s not much of it- they were clearly trying to keep from hurting him there. He was carried off by two of the officers, along with the Mayor.

Batwoman is distracted, and she’s clearly thinking back to a different night, a different kidnapping. Text, fifteen years ago. We don’t see this flashback from Kate’s POV. Instead we’re focused on her father. He’s riding along with a police team, including Gordon, at that point a Sergeant. He’s wearing black, not his military uniform. Gordon notices Jacob is armed. “I was asked to let you ride along, but there is no way in hell I’m letting you inside with that firearm.”

“All respect due, Sergeant, if it were your little girl in there, would anything short of someone putting a bullet in you stop you?” We think it’s going to be a pissing contest, but Kane sees Gordon’s hand at his cuffs, and relents. “I’ll stay out of your way, scout’s honor. But the second I see my girls I’m getting between them and danger. I’m not failing them again.” It’s the pain in his voice that stops Gordon.

“That sidearm stays in its holster, unless and until it’s a matter of life and death. I don’t want them walking on a technicality.”

“I don’t want them walking, period- but it’s your rodeo.”

Gordon’s team kick in the doors. Kate is tied, blindfolded, propped against a wall. There’s another body, definitely dead, obscured by a hood but with a bloodied bullet hole in the head that everyone is going to assume is Beth. Gunfire erupts, with Kate caught in the middle of it, exposed out in the open. True to his word Jacob runs through the gunfire, and covers Kate with his body, taking a shot meant for her head in the meat of his arm.

Gordon hesitates for a moment, his team at a severe disadvantage with two civilians out in the open, before demanding the team deploy smoke and lay cover fire. It buys Jacob a window to lift Kate up. Her hood falls, and he begs her not to look as he runs back towards Gordon. We see one of the gunman has the police flanked, and is drawing on Gordon, when a shot rings out, and he drops. Gordon sees that Jacob is holding his daughter in one arm, and his sidearm in the other. Gordon tells Kane to get his daughter outside. For a moment, from Kate’s POV, we watch as she sees what she thinks is her sister’s body on the floor.

They return to the Clocktower, and consult with Batman over a video link. Also in the room with them are Black Bat, Oracle, Spoiler and Question (the Renee Montoya version from Birds of Prey). Batgirl thinks she’s in charge, having been at this longer and with less support. Batwoman, by dint of being former military and older, thinks she’s in charge. Spoiler’s just happy to be there- she’s only filled in for Robin a handful of times when they needed someone to double so Tim could be in the same place as Robin. Cassandra feels like she’s just thrilled to finally be on the team; she still loves Harley, but she’s crazy. A great friend, and if you can only have one person in your corner she would do literally insane things to protect you, but she’s not a role model, either. And Question is really just there because of Batwoman; they haven’t started dating, but each suspects the other is interested and they’re at that point of mutual interest.

Batman tells them they’re going to have to handle Jervis- that he and the other Batmen have been infected by the Fluoronic Man, that while he works on an antidote, he can’t trust any of them to leave the cave, so they’ll have to handle Mad Hatter. Oracle is able to hack the security cameras at the Mayor’s mansion, and from that they realize that ‘Alice’ is the one assisting the Mad Hatter. She looks, initially, like another of Mad Hatter’s automatons, until it comes to fighting Gordon- then she comes alive, and the results are brutal. They place a heart-shaped crown on the Mayor and on Gordon, before carrying them out.

Batwoman reasons that if they’re assembling the most powerful people in Gotham, there are some obvious next victims: Bruce Wayne might make the top 10, but next up is definitely going to be the Colonel in charge of the nearby military base. After forcefully making her case, Batwoman breaks away from the rest of them, to make a phone call, trying to raise her father. We start in on his phone, panning over his desk, including his name tag, including his rank. She whispers, “Pick up, dad.”

We cut to earlier, Kate, with her hair cut military-short, is wearing BDUs. She opens a door into a military office, a nice one, for the colonel in charge of her base. We flash white text that says “Ten years earlier” (though we’ll have to update that; the policy essentially changed in July 2011, on paper in September, so this needs to be set before that). She’s been summoned. Her father is sitting in the CO’s chair, and spins around. Kate says he’s not her CO. “Nope, kiddo. I’m here as a favor.” Kate assumes he means to the CO. “No. To you. Your CO isn’t supposed to ask. But the problem is, you aren’t leaving her room for plausible deniability that policy runs on.”

“It’s bad policy, dad.”

“No question. Impacts morale. Forces men and women of honor to live duplicitously. Creates fractured loyalty. But even a full-bird Colonel can’t change it- can’t even question it. I’m here, as  proud father, as a man who loves you more than any other ever will, asking, please, for your sake, to be discreet.”

“I can’t. Because my dad, and my mother, raised me better. To be proud. To be honest. And I can’t be both while following that policy. So maybe I can’t be here anymore.”

“I didn’t want it to go this way,” he says.

“But still, you knew it would.” She stands next to him, and puts her head on his shoulder. “Thanks for being here,” she says, as a tear rolls off her cheek and onto his collar. 

We pan across a similar office, to see some blood pooled on the corner of the desk. A hand grabs the blood, and a man pulls himself up. It’s the Colonel, wearing his military hat with a blank look on his face. He snaps to when Mad Hatter enters the room. Hatter snaps off a half-assed salute, and says he doesn’t stand on ceremony; he only cares that the military has access to the kinds of chemicals he needs. 

The Batwomen infiltrate the military base. Batgirl is a taskmaster, insisting that the military can’t know they’re there, that the bats essentially have a détente with the American government, including its shadier operators like Amanda Waller- and those shadier elements in particular are just looking for an excuse to put Gotham under martial law. Depending on where we are in the President Luthor storyline, we might well mention that part of why he got so much support from the military was his tendency to elevate them as the preferred alternative to superheroes. Batwoman bristles at a lot of this, instinctively feeling like she belongs on the other side of that line- even though she’s clearly on the vigilante side, now.

They manage to arrive at the worst possible moment, as the villains make off with a stolen plane, full of chemical weapons. The Batwomen end up stealing a plane of their own to hide their identities as the military swoop in. Batwoman is able to baffle them with bullshit over the radio- with just enough military and Colonel Kane knowledge to talk them out of shooting down the plane, calling it a military requisition, one tacitly approved by Colonel Kane himself, telling the officer to call him and ask- which he should be doing before shooting down a military plane as it stands. Kate insists Barbara land the bird, now, because it bought them seconds, not minutes, and the military will shoot them down.

They scatter, and meet back up at the Clocktower later. Oracle managed to trace the tracker on the other plane; eventually it lost its mind, after it was hacked, because the tracker started flying in the opposite direction mid-air. Batwoman argues it wasn’t hacked; simpler explanation is that it’s Gotham, where impossible things just require doing a favor for the wrong kind of man. Oracle agrees to chase the box with a drone, and we’ll eventually see she was right, that it was Man-Bat who carried the tracker out of the plane mid-air. But it was already beginning a descent for a landing at a small airport outside the city. The Batwomen depart to intercept.

I think they manage to rescue all of Hatter’s kidnapped victims, but Alice has already abandoned him, having gotten what she came for, including chemical weapons and a plane. To get any useful intel, they have to deprogram Mad Hatter; see, they captured him, but they didn’t just want his cooperation, they encouraged obsession, obedience- Alice wrapped him so thoroughly around his little finger that he thought he was the one in charge, not her. Batwoman and the Colonel do the deprogramming, this not being his first rodeo with this kind of thing- in fact, he suspects and his theory is proven out that these are the same people he’s been fighting his whole career. That was why he got stationed in Gotham all these years, and why he’s resisted promotion or anything else that might take him away from the epicenter of their activity. He tells them it was easier, during the War on Terror, because the Church of Crime were basically Fundamentalist Terrorist, if their only religious precept was to do crimes. He also admits to Kate that he’s been trying to figure out for years how to apologize to her- that they contacted him before she was outed. They were the ones putting pressure on the Department of Defense to discipline her- that he was the reason she was forced out.

But there’s more to it than that. We get a montage, Batgirl followed a hunch, or really, Oracle followed Man-Bat back to his belfry, which turned out to be a Church of Crime stronghold. Batgirl drops a big, illustrated Bible down on the table. Man-Bat, when she dosed him with Batman’s curative agent, was similarly brain-washed. We get a quickie action scene flashback, the other Batwomen kicking their way through some lower-level churchies, before they take on Man-Bat. In close-quarters he’s at a disadvantage, and can’t fly, and Black Bat is able to sneak up on him and dose him before he can escape. Batgirl relates that Lykos wasn’t making any kind of sense, but he was pretty sure Batwoman had been on their radar for a lot longer than any of them realized. Batgirl opens to a page painted with a rendering of Batwoman. It’s more gothic, more theatric, also old. Batgirl, at least preliminarily, has tested the pages, and the chemicals react like it was painted more than a hundred years ago- they’ve been waiting for her, and if half of what Lykos said is accurate, they got tired of waiting, and decided to create her, instead.

Alice runs the Church of Crime (but outsiders call it the Cult of Crime). She’s essentially David Koresh, if he wanted Waco, but also if he expected to win Waco. That’s why she’s been gathering her army of cops and military men, and has been training others using them to be even more badass.

The Colonel breaks in to discuss his findings, that the Church began with white supremacists and other far-right groups, because it was where vulnerable, disaffected men were congregating. It was looking for a certain kind of moral flexibility, and encouraged those men to become police, military, anyone who could be of influence in their coming campaign.

So the finale is going to be showstopping, the Batwomen having to infiltrate, all while keeping the Batman rule in effect (no killing), because at least half of the military/police at the compound were abducted into it. Once they’ve secured the facility, the Colonel rides in with the full army, and secures them, but Alice has already gone, taken the chemical weapons she stole up in the plane for the next part of her plan. See, fully 2/3 of her agents have been returned to their former lives, and re-embedded in the military and police. She plans to activate them when the fighting starts. That’s how she plans to win. But the opening salvo is unleashing chemical death on Gotham, killing millions and making sure that the forces of order show up in force. The Batwomen take a plane up, one that Barbara can fly, so it’s Kate and Alice and the other bats on the plane. Eventually, Oracle is able to get the plane to return ‘home’ automatically, so Barbara can join the fight.

But the part that’s really a kick in the berries is Alice herself. See, she locks her and Batwoman in the hold of the plane, where the chemical weapons are, while her hench-people fight the others. She reveals to Kate that yes, they created her. They knew that a Bat needs a tragedy, but even losing her mother, losing her sister, wasn’t enough. Kate was too resilient, took too well to military discipline. She needed to be a rogue operator- so she had to be cut lose. She tells her it took years, a hundred little stumbles, a phone call here, a temptation there, a roadblock there, all to keep Kate pliable, self-destructive, angry. If they’d only known that her father lied to her all these years, it might have been easier; they had laid out her quest so carefully, and yet, Jacob refused to start her on her journey. Her sister wasn’t dead. The girl was just some collateral damage. But they had her sister for fifteen years, a lifetime, really. For years they wondered why Kate didn’t come looking for her… it was only when Alice took the Colonel that she finally learned the truth- that Kate didn’t know. This entire time they’re fighting, Kate becoming more unhinged, more angry, more brutal, closer to using lethal force. “All this time, I’ve been trying to twist the knife, without realizing I’d missed the mark.”

Kate stumbles back, Alice’s knife sticking out of her chest. “I’d started to think there was something about me, that maybe you just didn’t care enough to rescue me. Sins of the father, huh?” It’s Batgirl who manages to get the compartment open. Alice is convinced she’s won, that their prophecies state that after she cuts out the Batwoman’s heart, she’s unstoppable. It doesn’t matter what they do next- she’s already won.

“How’s our girl?” Batgirl asks.

“Woman,” Batwoman croaks.

Black Bat, who after getting shot in BoP2 has taken first aid really seriously, is seeing to her. “Stable. Heart rate’s steady, and from the sonagram it looks like the knife missed the heart.”

“Seems like trying to force your prophecy backfired.” Batgirl tosses a pair of cuffs at her feet. “You stabbed my friend. You put those on, and I’ll try to remember which side of the line I’m on.”

Spoiler, who is, still, pretty much just happy to be included, “I’m just happy for a chance to kick you.”

“Two on one doesn’t seem all that ‘right side of the line to me,’ Alice says, drawing two ornate pistols from under a large skirt. Batarangs hit her hands before she can aim them, and she drops them.

“You can still choose the cuffs; they’ll just hurt more now,” Batgirl tells her. Alice chooses instead to hit the button opening the rear of the plane.

Batgirl glances at the poison, and the two lines trailed from it to the open door.. “It’s a gravity feed,” she says. Pilot tilts this plane even a few more degrees and we’re going to start spraying poison.”

“But I wanted to kick her,” Spoiler groans. She runs out of the room. We follow her, through the body, with lots of henchpeople, a few of whom stir and she kicks back down. Then she gets to the cockpit door, which she wires with plastique and blows. Then she puts the sharpened edge of a batarang into the pilot’s throat, and tells him to keep it steady, or he’s drinking what’s left of the poison. He tells her he’d rather die than betray his mistress. She says he says that, but if she has to slit his throat, she’s pretty sure even she can keep a plane steady. Only difference is he’d be dead and Batman would scowl at her, and probably never let her be a Robin again- which she’s not sure she’s got the legs for anyway, frankly.

In the rear, Black Bat is trying to hurry Barbara along, because a few hour class from the Red Cross really doesn’t cover nearly-stabbed hearts. Batgirl fights, but what she doesn’t realize, initially, is that Alice isn’t focused on her, or the poison, but on Kate. She tears the batarangs from her hands and flings them at Kate, sticking Black Bat to the wall with one. She proves to have one more knife, and manages to get the upper hand with Barbara, preparing to stab her and saying idly that perhaps it will make a woman out of her- hoping that maybe killing Batgirl will count towards the prophecy, instead. Kate shoves her, knocking her to the lip of the plane. Kate is immediately, with a knife still in her chest, trying to help her up. “Beth. Please. Take my hand. We can fix this. We can be a family again. We can be whole.”

“The only way I can be whole,” Alice says, letting go of the door and reaching for the knife even as Kate tries to take her hand. Alice twists the knife, and Kate drops her, and she falls towards the harbor below. The plane lurches, and we watch poison start down the tube, before the plane rights itself, and our characters rush to the cockpit. Spoiler is sitting in the pilot seat, with the old pilot sprawled.

“I’m not really sure I can keep us level without hitting a building, so…”

Black Bat arrives. “Yeah, I closed the back door so the poison wouldn’t, you know, kill everyone.” Batgirl takes over flying. The Colonel calls them over the radio, and Batwoman discusses returning the plane. The military police want to take the bats into custody. The Colonel insists that they were never there at all, that it would wound morale to have it exposed that they lost chemical weapons to one of Gotham’s garden-variety crazies. Batwoman is extra cold to the Colonel as she leaves.

Later, the Colonel shows at her cave. “Best divers at the base couldn’t find her.”

“You told me she was dead.” Kate says, opening her door. He doesn’t play coy.

“That’s what I thought, at the time. The girl they mutilated, at least with her head missing, was a ringer for Beth. They fudged the blood work; fudged the DNA, too. But somehow… I still knew. I stole a sample myself, and paid to have it tested blind, at an independent lab. I tried to tell you, a hundred different times. But you found a way to be happy. I couldn’t snatch that way from you again- I couldn’t drag you back down into the hell I was trapped in.”

“We could have been there together,” she says. “And I will be blisteringly furious with you, for longer than may seem fair. But we’ll get through this like a family, too.” They rest their heads against one another. “I miss them.”

“Me, too, kiddo.”

Credits

Mid-credits scene: The Colonel pulls away from Batwoman. “But, uh, this wasn’t a social call. That, gas… I know some of your people were exposed, whether or not Batman wanted me to. But it’s spreading. I don’t know if it’s just a change in the wind, or they’re pumping more of it out into the streets. Gordon’s been trying to keep his men out of it; he lost a couple teams before they figured out how noxious it is, that it can enter through skin, air, water. We were lucky, the other day it was raining it stopped shy of the East Side, or it would be in the drinking water by now. That luck won’t hold. We have to do something.”

End-credits scene: Barbara is listening to a voicemail from her dad. “This has been a long-time coming, Barbara. I’ve turned a blind eye, pretended I wasn’t a cop, or a father.  And don’t get me wrong, the city owes you and your friends a debt, a dozen times over… but we need to talk.” She hangs up the message as she enters the Clocktower. Oracle tells her the caller waited to speak to her directly.

I’m largely agnostic as to which Siren we get. Marketing would dictate we get whoever is most popular (likely Harley). Budget would likely dictate we use whoever’s cheapest, and I’d say pinch those pennies, because we’re going to need every single one of them for the next one, because it’s basically Endgame for the ladies of the DCU (and we really should spend accordingly). So our Siren (I’m just going to assume that it’s Ivy) tells Batgirl they screwed up. They thought they could stop the Fluoronic Man themselves. But now it’s clear he’s working at the behest (or at least to the benefit) of the city’s male crime lords, turning anyone who is exposed to Ivy’s altered pheromones into a violent misogynist.

Bonus: Birds of Prey 3: Birds of a Feather

The Birds of Prey (along with the balance of the Batwomen) have to team up with the Gotham City Sirens, because the male crime-lords in town partnered with Jason Woodrue to use Ivy’s pheromones against all the men in the city (I’m thinking at least Penguin, Two-Face and the Ventriloquist will be our fodder villains for this one). To complicate things, before the Sirens sit down with the Birds of Prey, Ivy made a desperate plea to Alec Holland to try and stop Woodrue… only for him to fall under the spell of her purloined pheromones. We probably start the story en media res, with Harley, Catwoman and Black Bat managing to break Ivy out of the clutches of Woodrue. This leads Woodrue to unleash his altered pheromone into the city, where all of the men turn incredibly hostile- basically normal men on the street attack them. The crime bosses use this chaos to their advantage; Batman is able to quarantine Gotham’s male heroes in the cave while he works on an antidote… all while being a pretty demented bastard all the same on their video link. This leaves things up to the ladies to fix. I think the way we first introduce this, is Harley is sneaking off from Ivy to meet with Jason Todd. Black Bat knows that, because she also knows the context: Harley feels terrible for her part in kidnapping and torturing him. She’s trying to make amends, and at the same time there’s really no one else who understands what she went through like Jason does. It starts as a two-person support group, but will grow from there.

Harley is nervous being in the back of a plane again. The last time she was in one, everybody died, and she’s having flashbacks. It’s mostly an excuse to show a montage of moments from the Suicide Squad (I figure if we build it into our mythos eventually people will watch it enough for it to become profitable- and it is a fun movie- which is why next year I’ll pitch a follow-up… but shhh). The montage ends with Flag, and we cut back to Harley in the back of the plane, a tear sliding down her cheek, “I miss Milton.”

Black Bat notices, and sits beside her in the plane, and takes her hand, “Harley, it’s going to be okay.”

“Is it?” she asks, trauma clearly having taken the wheel. “At any second Waller might kick in the door and decide to try to kill me again. And this plant dick took Ivy… I don’t know what I’d do if anything happened to her.”

“I know,” Black Bat soothes, “we’re getting her back.”

“How’s our mental patient?” Catwoman asks, emerging from the cockpit.

“Still crazy after all these years,” Black Bat says. “But she’s good. Because she has to be.”

“She’s your responsibility. I’m getting Ivy out, because I don’t like owing favors. But the headcase is yours to babysit. If she goes to pieces, we may not have the space to put her back together.”

“I trust her. She’s just… her last time in a plane didn’t go so great.”

“We don’t have time for trauma. We need to jump in fifteen seconds.” Catwoman flings a parachute at Harley, and it flies past, before she raises her hand. Catwoman looks at Black Bat.

“She’s good,” Cassandra insists. “She’s rallying.”

Catwoman runs out of the plan and leaps gracefully into a leap past camera. Black Bat helps Harley into her parachute. “What if I can’t do this?” Harley asks.

“I’m pretty sure,” Black Bat glances at the cockpit, to see the stick is tied in place with a whip, “yeah, by engaging the autopilot Selena meant this stolen plane is going to crash as a distraction, so we don’t have much choice. Come on.” Black Bat takes her hand and pulls her to the door and jumps with her.

They’re buffeted by a bad wind, and separated, and Black Bat gets caught up in a tree as a patrol arrives. For a moment it looks bad. Then Harley pops up out of the grass and takes the patrol apart with swift, acrobatic efficiency. Catwoman’s already up in the tree and slices Black Bat out of her chute, and she falls with a somewhat comedic thud, before standing and brushing herself off.

“Jumping out of a perfectly functional plane is just crazy enough to be in my wheelhouse. What I meant was what if I’m not functional enough to save Ivy, to infiltrate this ‘compound,’ to be the kind of partner I’ve always wanted…”

“Harley,” Black Bat interrupts, “I love the brilliant, fucked up way your head works. But the reason I trust you, even now, with my life, is that when you follow your heart, I’ve never seen it steer you wrong. So when I say you can do this, I mean that you will, if you can just stay out of your own way. Okay?”

“Yeah,” Harley says.

“You two ever consider motivational speaking?” Catwoman asks, slinking down the tree. “Or getting your own Lifetime movie? Or maybe just starting a nationwide hug tour?”

“Ignore her,” Harley says, “she deflects genuine emotion because she’s worried if she doesn’t immediately bat it away people will understand how desperately she craves it, and to belong.”

Catwoman is not happy being analyzed; Black Bat puts up her hands. “You poked that bear.”

“Doing this for Ivy,” Catwoman says, annoyed. “Silver lining: maybe the two of you will get shot in the process.”

I’m assuming, since this is a big, ambitious swing already, that we should just montage them breaking in, taking out some guards, and rescuing Ivy, where we slow down again, because Harley wraps her arms around Ivy and kisses her. It needs to be a moment… but afterwards, it needs to not be a big deal, too (because I want them together, and happy, but if we make it too much of a thing then it’s like there’s something atypical about women finding love together… and there isn’t).

“What took you?” Ivy asks gently; she’s trying to keep it light, bantery, and not let on how scared she’s been, how much being used by Jason Woodrue has psychologically or physically taxed her, because she knows Harley has been merciless with herself, so she has to compensate by being kind.

“Traffic,” Harley says, half a laugh, half a sob.

“No crying,” Catwoman says, almost accusatory, but we can tell, too, it’s because it’s affecting her.

“In baseball?” Harley asks, raising her bat. The Sirens stomp together, as we do another quick montage (because we have so much story to get through on this one).

They get free, and we’re going to do a quick little flashback. Again, I don’t want to make a thing about them, like there’s anything odd about their pairing… but I like this moment. This is the moment it all comes out in the open.

“I didn’t look for you because you were probably the only person at Arkham who tried to understand me. I knew the tendency for a patient to put their doctor on a pedestal; I told myself you were doing a job, and doing it well, and that can be sexy, in its own right. I knew not to assume it meant anything, either about how I felt about you, or about how you felt about me.

“But then I saw you, with Cassie, and out in the world, as yourself, strong, confident, but with a heart so big and open that of course it flashed like a giant kick me sign to a monster like the Joker, but also… that showed just how warm, loving, and compassionate you were, how much you wanted for someone to love you like you love everyone. And that you could see people like us as… people. That’s a damning statement, to be sure, about our society, and the mental health profession, but you’ve always been a diamond,” she touches the diamond pattern on her right wrist, “and you’ve always deserved someone who saw that,” she kisses her.

Black Bat interrupts the story, and we reveal that Harley and Ivy are cuddling on a loveseat, while the other two are sitting in the same room. “I’m out. It’s like listening to 2 out of my 3 moms talk about making out. I’m out,” she reiterates as she leaves the room.

Catwoman sits quietly in her chair and stares.

“I had a cat like you,” Harley says. “Would just sit in the corner of my room and stair. Until I brought a guy home. Or a girl home. Or anyone else. And then, she’d lock eyes with me, and only then, she’d start to bathe.” Catwoman frowns, trying to  figure out her meaning, before just leaving the room.

“I don’t mind an audience, but a part of me did want you just for myself.” I want her to have that, too, so we’re going to fade to black.

We fade back in the next morning. I don’t care who wants what, but I really want to emphasize the humanity in this moment, the normalcy; one of them is snoring just buzzsaw loud, and the other has just left a puddle of drool on the other. And even this, I know, could be filmed with the male gaze in mind- but it shoudn’t. They should look like the room got hit with a hurricane, their hair should be mussed, as little makeup as possible (I mean, the characters are usually caked in it, so I’m genuinely not sure what’s supposed to be their skin and what’s makeup), but they are frumped to a degree that even Margot Robbie (and presumably Lake Bell, because that’s great casting) look like normal human beings. Black Bat knocks on the door, and comes in, keeping her arm over her eyes. “I really, really, hate to intrude on your love nest- like, I don’t know the words in English to express how much I don’t want to intrude,” (I like the idea of her spouting something in Mandarin or whatever to prove that the words exist, at least somewhere).

Harley wakes up, and feels self-conscious, picking up that Cass expects a sexed-up Adventureland, “Yep, the air is thick with the smells of sex and sensual oils and lubricants and just,” and tries to mop up the drool, wake up Ivy, all while making the both of them look a little more put together than they were (this should be silly and fun, not for gratification).

“Okay, whoa, already way more information than I would have ever wanted to know. But before I exit, you should know… it’s spreading. Ivy’s pheromones, Woodrue had enough of them that he’s blanketing the entire city. It isn’t just our neighborhood that’s a nightmare. It’s the entire city.”

“Let us get dressed.”

“Oh, God, no more,” Cassandra moans.

“We’ll be out in a minute.”

“Why didn’t you tell her the truth?” Ivy asks.

“What, that I took a beautiful woman to bed and then proceeded to drool all over her stomach? That I was snoring so loud it bugged me even in my own dreams. That despite my days being consumed with thoughts of sex and death the entire time you were missing, once you were back, all I could do was pass out next to you?”

Ivy, again, is gentle with her, recognizing Harley’s spiraling. “I didn’t know if I’d ever see you again. I just needed you to hold me.”

“And I couldn’t even do that right.”

“The drooling wasn’t exactly what I expected. But I slept like a baby. I felt safe with you. It was exactly what I needed.”

“Yeah?” Harley asked.

“Being with someone isn’t just about rocking their world sexually. You also want to be comfortable just being with them. Feeling safe, and secure and, and loved.”

“Yeah,” Harley says, realizing how much she needed to hear that, and cuddling up against her. “I love you, Ivy.”

“I love you, too, Harls.”

Damnit. Okay. That’s on me. I promise I’m going to try and stop being so damned enamored of the two of them together that I can get back to pitching. I think the best way to get this story moving again is to take a peek at the other side of the aisle, namely the ‘good’ guys.

We watch Barbara walk by her suit in the Clocktower; she’s wearing clothes for a run. She tells Oracle that she needs to pick up an assignment from school, but then she’ll be back, and asks if Oracle needs anything. She asks for a Yoohoo (or other product placement to be paid for later).

There’s something on the air as she puts in her earbuds and puts on some music. We’re going to leave the music on for most of her run, at least until the insanity gets to be so much she silences it, and suddenly is faced to confront exactly how screwed up the few blocks she’s ran are. I figure this is one long take (but possibly with some hidden cuts, if need be). First she runs by a man who is clearly screaming at her, partially dodging to avoid specks of spittle flying through the air. Unfortunately, this is Gotham, so angry men yelling at random women on the street is a thing, and doesn’t phase her. At a hot dog cart, a man and a woman with a baby in a stroller seem to be altercating, when the man raises his hand. Barbara grabs the hook of his elbow and uses it to roll him over her back without stopping. She runs a little further, and a man takes a swing at her. She puts him down without any problem, only for another man to attack her. And a third. She puts them all down with ease, but we pull back, to reveal that this has all happened on the same block. Barbara turns down her music and calls Oracle. “Oracle, what the hell is going on?”

“You know that weird fog on the waterfront that turned any man who came into contact into a woman-hating troll? Yeah, well, it’s spread across the whole city. It’s chaos. Figured you knew.”

“I slept in. I’m going to head back to the Clocktower. Something tells me we’re going to need to handle this.”

We cut to Batgirl arriving. “So I called Batman, like you asked. He’s aware, by the way. Um… I’m struggling. I know this isn’t a typical workplace or… anything approaching a normal situation. I guess I just never imagined I’d ever hear Batman call me a c-word.”

“What?”

“And he called you, uh, B-girl.”

“Well, that is my-” she realizes Oracle means the other B-girl.

Oh. I’m sorry you had to hear that.”

“It was more, comically surreal. But… he’s terrifying. Most of the time I don’t breathe when he calls. And I even noticed he noticed, and has tried to emote more, which should make me feel more comfortable, that he’s trying, but it’s like watching the Tin Man try to be more emotional by wearing Totos face. But it’s only right now, when I actually saw what he’s like when he’s threatening. And the idea that he could stay like this…”

“We’ll fix it.

“Almost makes me feel sorry for criminals. Not because of what he does do, but because… because of what he could do, what I now realize he might do. Gives me the feeling he is one day where they give him a shot of espresso instead of decaf from being Joker in a cowl.”

“Maybe that’s why he doesn’t drink caffeine at all- just doesn’t trust himself.”

“Really? Does he even sleep? And he still doesn’t touch caffeine? How does he stay up.”

“Obsession.”

“The Calvin Klein cologne? Does he chug it?”

“Will. Same way he’s still remaining functional, if a bit… jerkier than usual.”

“Feels like an understatement, but yeah, he’s still working, with all the other Robins, Nightwings, Red Hoods and whatevers in the cave with him. He’s isolated the compounds. Definitely bears some signatures worth being concerned over. Three names, at least trying to read between the lines; he was editorializing some, especially when it came to Ivy. But it was her pheromones. But they seemed altered, in a way that makes him suspect Swamp Thing and Jason Woodrue are involved.”

“That’s bad,” Batgirl reacts. “Really bad. Ivy on her own is trouble. Ivy and Woodrue are extinction level trouble. Swamp Thing would have been our go-to guy to help with it, but if he’s working with them, or they have him… call everybody.”

Everybody?”

“Let me rephrase. Everyone without a y chromosome. Anyone who can help, we need on standby, or here if they can swing it”

“What about Batwing?” Batgirl doesn’t follow. “They’re nonbinary.”

Barbara sighs. “I’ll text Batman. If this goes down to the chromosomal level, it might make sense to have Batwing sequester with the rest in the cave. But if not, it’s all hands on deck.”

We’re back in Ivy and Harley’s apartment. Ivy is wearing a shirt from Arkham (yeah, like she did in the first Arkham game), and is drinking coffee. “So… I’ve been talking to some of the houseplants.”

“You, too? They only seem to want to talk to me about celebrity butts. You?”

“That’s not them, hon, it’s a voice in your head. No, the plants tell me Alec was here.”

“Alec, Alec… why doesn’t that name ring a bell?”

“He was my ex. Is sort of dead. And a plant elemental.”

“You used to bang the plant guy?” Harley asks, amused, horrified, intrigued, confused. “I mean, there’s bumping uglies and then there’s bumping uglies.”

Harley.”

“I swear, I did not know, or I would have at least straightened up before he grew out of a few bags of fertilizer in the tub. He said it was the fastest way to get here from ‘the Swamp,’ which I really hadn’t expected to be all so literal. One of the bat people owed me a favor, got me his number, when you went missing. I thought plant guy, wearing a trench coat, he must be some kind of plant dick, and, not you know, your old plant d-”

“It was his friend who wore the trench coat. But it worked, I guess. You found me.”

“We did… just not at first. He led us into a trap. A trap for him, I think, or at least a trap for if he came looking for you.”

“Oh, no. A couple nights ago? When Woodrue’s experiments got a lot worse.”

“Yeah,” Harley says meekly. “But he did get us the lead that got you back.”

“For which I am grateful, but… do you understand what Alec Holland is?” Harley shrugs. “He is basically a plant god. Meaning, he could take my pheromones, and increase their potency. He could probably even reproduce them. That’s why Woodrue didn’t put up much of a fight when you came for me- because I was redundant. And now it’s a race against time, and we’re starting from behind.” She finishes her coffee and turns around. “How much pull do you have with these bat people?”

“Like I asked for a tour of the Batcave or for them to drive us around in the Batmobile while we made out in the back seat.”

“And they said ‘no?’”

“No back seat. The rest all depends. Are we asking to work with them, or trying to scam ‘em?”

“If you don’t at least leave the possibility of the latter open I’m never talking to either of you again,” Catwoman says, pouring herself a bowl of milk.

Ivy’s prepared. “I spoke with the city’s Economy Development Corporation, and they estimate there are half a million cats in Gotham City. I know cats are survivors and all, but what happens if jilted men decide to take their anger out on women’s cats, or worse, if my pheromones end up working just as well on male cats.”

Catwoman stops lapping at the bowl. “Can I at least steal something, when this is all over, so I don’t feel like a complete sap?”

“Sure,” they both say with a shrug.

Birds of Prey/Batwomen assemble at the tower, with the promise that the rest are dealing with a bigger threat outside of Gotham, but will be there as soon as they can wrap it up. Then they get the call from the Sirens, all agreeing to work together.

Oracle has been able to put together the records from all of their Woodrue-related locations so far. And it seems he’s been using places, money and resources from three separate crime families. Analysis of recent police surveillance has proven that the three seem to be working together, and that they need to hit all three crime bosses at once, to mop up as much of their men and resources as possible. They split into three teams, with Ivy’s team going to where they think Swamp Thing is/Penguin, Batgirl and the Birds of Prey going after Woodrue/Two-Face, and Batwoman and the other Batwomen going after the location where the pheromones are all stored to destroy them/Ventriloquist (he’s squatting on old Joker territory; he lost clout after fallout from BoP2, especially with his willingness to sacrifice his henchmen for a joke)- that meant the Ventriloquist had a lot of territory with abandoned chemical storage/disposal, perfect for the pheromones they pumped out of Ivy.  

The Batwomen easily deal with the Ventriloquist, Scarface and his vanilla mooks. Then they realize there was a lot more pheromone than they realized- acres of it. Batwoman calls her father. The base is still observing chemical weapons protocols, so they’re fine, if somewhat understaffed. He agrees to help her bomb the pheromone storage (I think he loads a plane with explosives and arranges for Kate to steal it, having learned since the last movie how to fly a plane… ish- the main sticking point being her landings are still mostly crashes in the simulator).

Ivy leads the Sirens to rescue Alec. Penguin, slightly impacted by the pheromones (but having always been a dick) gets the snot kicked out of him, and realizing how ridiculously powerful Ivy is, decide not to screw with them and leave without much of a fight. The true brawl, though, is with the Swamp Thing himself. He’s still under the influence of Ivy’s pheromones, only a stronger, more robust variant he helped concoct. Thankfully, midway through the fight Ivy realizes that the Swamp Thing they’re fighting isn’t Alec at all, that he essentially grew himself a bodyguard, so while the others fight him off (badly), Ivy reasons with Alec, that he’s a good man, the man she admired, the one she fell for. She kisses him, and it brings him out of his stupor, and then some. The bodyguard keeps fighting, but some of the life has gone out of it; this is amplified by the fact that Harley, seeing the kiss, goes berserk, and will hit him in the twig and berries frequently with her big-ass mallet. Alec’s still a little influenced by the pheromones, and clingy; Ivy says she thought he got engaged, and he says that’s complicated. Ivy tells him things are a lot less complicated for her- that she found someone who makes her happy, and looks over at Harley, practically glowing. Ivy uses the Swamp Thing’s arm to pull Harley to her, and kisses her. Harley stammers that she thought… before Ivy tells her she thinks too much, and kisses her. “I do.” And they kiss again.

Finally, Two-Face’s place is where the real fight happens. One half of his mansion is overgrown. The Birds of Prey split up, Batgirl leading one segment into the overgrown side, since she’s got all the weedkilling toys, and Question leading the other up the pristine side. Question and Huntress make short work of Two-Face, before wondering where all his goons are. Both Harveys smile. Woodrue knocks Batgirl and Canary through a door, rolling into the room. Harvey tells them the reason he didn’t see a point in putting his men in harm’s way tonight was that it was going to be a bloodbath- that they were just waiting for all the guests to arrive.

At that moment, the Sirens and the Batwomen arrive. Two-Face brags to Woodrue that his timing is impeccable. As you can see, we’ve got a ridiculous cast of women here already… but things are about to go just completely nuts. I wasn’t screwing with you when I said that this was Endgame for DC’s women. Well, here it goes.

I think for the ending we bring in a big Big Bad; personally, I’d swing for the fences and have it be Granny Goodness with a team of male furies; Granny Goodness has basically been taken to task by Darkseid. He thinks her Furies need to open up to male members, that she’s been artificially holding her elite soldiers back. So she’s testing his hypothesis, by recruiting a team of men. She explains that there’s a part of her rooting for the women, because they’ll prove her right if they win, not that she could ever gloat to Darkseid. But she wants her ladies back; she was the one who gave Woodrue the necessary upgrade to be able to adapt Ivy’s pheromones.

At first, the combined Birds of Prey are outmatched. But then… those other heroines we teased earlier on, who would show as soon as they wrapped up the bigger threat… they arrive. This loops in all of the most powerful of DC’s women for a fireworks finish as they beat a team of men under Granny’s control, before all of the rest of the women show up. This list is in no way all-inclusive, and will likely swell. But it should give you an idea of who’s punching who.

Wonder Woman Lobo
Big Barda Scott Free
Supergirl Granny Goodness
Power Girl Superboy
Zatanna Jason Blood/The Demon
Ivy Jason Woodrue
Catwoman/Black Bat (snatches Granny’s control rod)
Harley Quinn (souped up) Joker, like from the first Arkham game (can really be Clayface, if that’s too silly)
Batgirl Nightwing
Mary Marvel Black Adam
Fire  
Ice  
Huntress  
Mera  
Jesse Quick  
Natasha Irons  
Artemis  

Wherever possible/necessary, we can replace the menfolk with their CGI counterparts (having the Demon in a fight wouldn’t necessarily require paying Jason Blood to show; I’m all for paying him to show, mind, but I know some actors really hate showing up to film what is essentially a cameo, and it’s possible the budget on this will also be insane, so building in places where we can cut costs might be helpful).

But the women are winning. Granny is conflicted; she’s winning the moral argument even as she loses the fight. But she also knows that Darkseid doesn’t brook failure… she sees an opportunity to slink away, taking Jason Woodrue with her.

And, personally, I’d bring in at least 3 men, here: Batman, Superman, and whatever other male Justice Leaguer would be most impactful (could be Aquaman, given current box office). We start with whichever of them has the most recognizable voice, calling from offscreen. Camera pans, and we see those three, and think this is round 2 and it’s about to get brutal…. Only the men aren’t attacking. Or cursing. Batman explains that he’s synthesized an antidote, that he’s got Flashes spreading across the city administering doses.

Harley asks Wonder Woman if this means she’s in the Avengers- “I mean the Justice League, clearly you weren’t my safety squad.” Could be cute to have Ratcatcher 2 cameo, and Harley waves her off. Wonder Woman pretends not to have heard, and walks away. Harley is, for a moment, disappointed. But Batgirl is behind her. She tells her some people might look at them as minor league, but if Harley, Ivy, or Catwoman want, they always have a place in the, and before she says Birds of Prey, we go to black, and smash in the Birds of Prey logo. We quickly do the cast credits, before cutting back, immediately to the same scene.

Catwoman runs up to Harley and Ivy. “That thing I needed to do, it’s done, and we should go. Now.” She turns, and we can see she has a utility belt slung over her shoulder. It literally doesn’t matter which of the Batmen she took it from, but it’s slightly funnier if it’s a Robin and he has to hold his pants up. Batman bellows after Selena, and we cut again to black.

More credits. Then we’re on Apokalips. Jason Woodrue has seen better days. Clearly, he’s been tortured for a while. Desaad is overseeing that, but Darkseid is working with Woodrue’s figures. Desaad is becoming more concerned, that he’s been working with Woodrue’s information tirelessly, without speaking. Desaad is trying to get an answer from him, if the Antilife Equation is complete, if he’ll be able to mold the minds of men to his will. He’s not going to reply, but I would like to have him turn to camera, similar to Thanos at the end of the very first Avengers, and smile. But while that CGI Thanos looked a little cartoony, this one should be horrifying- and his smile should be a thing of nightmares. That Darkseid is happy at all should be something we’re all worried about.

Relevant Review: The Suicide Squad movie

It’s pretty good.

Crap.

You want to know more than that, don’t you? It mostly works.

First of all, I’m new to this, and I’ll likely spoil things, because I don’t have a good handle on what constitutes a spoiler to the broader audience. So if you want to go in fresh and covered in placenta like a newborn, don’t read further (I can’t help you with the placenta part, sorry); if you’re on the fence, trying to decide whether or not to watch it, well, I already told you your answer. I’ll try to be light on spoilers, but I’m going to discuss what works in the plot and the characterization, so I’m sure I’ll cross at least someone’s line about details. You’ve been warned.

What Doesn’t Work

I’ll start with the things that don’t quite work: the movie kills half its misfits within the first fifteen minutes. That means that you don’t get enough time with them to care about them, it means you don’t even really get to see what makes any of them tick. These characters function as a mislead, one that at least borders on mean-spirited. To be fair, I laughed a lot; for the first chunk of the movie, its black, bleak little heart was beating in time with mine. But ultimately at least some of these deaths feel flat; better executions of this part of the concept like Rogue One or the Dirty Dozen make you spend enough time with the characters to start to care about them, to make it hurt more when the characters meet an ignominious end. But there are worse executions, too, and it’s a balancing act: make us care too much and we’ll never forgive you for murdering our faves, and it’s probably better to cut their time short than break our hearts.

The other big, grinding piece is that the movie doesn’t quite congeal. There’s lots of really great little character beats and emotional moments, but it’s missing a pass or two on the script to have really made it feel like cohesive parts of a whole. I’m probably grading on a curve, here, because James Gunn is really good at this: every meticulous detail in his Guardians movies feel lovingly placed and necessary (aside from maybe the Gamora ‘whore’ ‘joke’ and possibly the odd prosthetics fixation of Rocket). It all flows together nicely, like a well-designed lazy river. And maybe that’s intentional; maybe as a war film this is supposed to be messy and chaotic, and what I’m noting is a design choice moreso than a flaw, so your mileage may indeed vary from mine.

I don’t think the face turn certain characters take work as well as they could have, too. The remaining characters are literally moving in the opposite direction and just kind of… stop, and decide to do the right thing. This could have been done through dialog, or through the parallels of team dynamics with their explicated family dynamics. Or relating the native Corto Malteseans to those families (Polka Dot Man seems explicitly formed for this, he literally sees his mother everywhere, and is a lunatic, so him stamping his feet in the dirt and emotionally bleating out, “I’m not letting her do to them what she did to me,” would have been a hell of a transition). It would have taken twenty seconds of snappy dialog* to convince the characters and the audience that this was a reasonable course, or even that it was the necessary one from a self-preservation standpoint, a “There’s no way this horror stays on this island” combined with an “and Earth is where I keep all my stuff.” Maybe Gunn didn’t want to belabor the point, and there are plenty of reasons (which may differ character to character) to choose to save the day. But it is a choice, one made at great personal risk of Waller’s immediate wrath, to say nothing of a fight they are almost certainly not all up to.

I’m not sure that Harley’s interlude works all that well, either; sure, it gives her kind of a quasi-arc, dealing with fallout from her relationship with the Joker… but the movie kind of grinds to a halt for it. It involves the nicer, more reasonable Presidente, and I even get that his exit from the movie is likely meant to be the ratcheting up of tension, as his less-hinged brother takes the reigns, but it feels like the movie makes you do that calculus yourself, in a way that didn’t feel paid off to me (maybe Gunn has started to believe his audience is smart enough to follow along, but if that’s the case, he forgets we’re also rats pressing buttons looking for the plot to reward our obsession with the occasional pellet or scritch on the head; an implicit part of the creator/audience dynamic is rewarding us for putting ideas together- while also delighting us with swerves we didn’t, but still add up). And it has its own pretty neat little action scene… but I don’t think it feels like it does enough, either for Harley or the movie’s plot, to justify the time it takes away from the central plot. I’m not saying you couldn’t have done something like this, but it feels like its own little Hobbs and Shaw in the middle of a larger Fast movie.

Polka Dot Man’s… condition. I can roll with him being screwy (even if his screwiness seems to overlap with Harley’s in ways that make both less unique). I’m even on board with the ways his relationship to his mother warps his relationship with his abilities and the world at large. But twice we see the ways his power seems to impact him physically… and it feels like it’s building either to pathos or a joke; it leans more towards the former, but it still doesn’t quite arc in a satisfying enough way to cash the substantial checks this character writes in the trailers (or maybe I just really wanted more Polka Dot Man).

Amanda Waller somehow not being in a straightjacket. Look, I adore the version of Waller in the Timmverse (I know Diniverse is a more clever/phonetically pleasing name, but it was Bruce Timm guiding it all those years, whereas Dini only worked in it sporadically). In that universe, Waller was cruel and efficient, Bond’s M if she’d been operating in black ops so long the lines between the good guys and the bad guys blurred to the point where she made no distinction, and accomplishing her mission was the only relevant conversation. Ayers’ version (at least in the released films) is a cartoon. She shoots half her staff because “they didn’t have clearance.” If they didn’t have clearance it’s because she let them work on a mission for which they didn’t have clearance… her fuck up, so her mass-murder is purely to cover her incompetence. It takes a character who was a “finish the mission at all costs for the greater good type” and makes her a petty, scheming bureaucrat. Which this movie, to its credit, hones in on like a laser. She spends lives pointlessly; fully half the deaths in the movie can be directly attributed to her being bad at her job while also refusing to loop in those better at it who are literally on the mission. Fully three of our leads have military experience, and yet her plan was to throw people into a woodchipper because that makes for a good distraction, right?   

What does work

Okay, so maybe starting with what doesn’t work makes me sound too negative on the movie, because overall I enjoyed it. I’d probably put it behind the two Guardians movies, and probably just ahead of Slither for his third best to date (sorry, Super, but it’s a strong filmography, and someone has to take up the rear). Some of that is honestly just what’s on the tin: Guardians is a feel-good found-family operatic-space/action movie set in perhaps the most cohesive shared universe around (sorry Star Wars). Suicide Squad is meaner and leaner, a war movie set in a DC Universe that kind of hates us for existing at this point, but still has some heart, and enough of that found-family vibe is earned to make it a lot better than the first one, and even better than most films in the genre overall.  

King Shark. Full stop. I loved the rendition of the soft-spoken but sweet-natured King Shark as voiced by Ron Funches on the Harley Quinn show (go watch it, damnit), but turning him into a full doofus (but just smart enough to be self-aware and want more) makes him basically Hulk if Hulk were interested primarily in eating those he smashes. His friendship with Ratcatcher feels adorable and genuine, and Sylvester Stallone asking, “Nom nom?” of vanquished foes is delightful in a way that I never thought I’d feel about cannibalism.

Peacemaker: he’s an extremist, but played completely to the hilt by John Cena. He feels like he’s going to be just another obnoxious ultra-right-wing d-bag- and he is also that- but he is the most glorious version of that that even though you should hate him, you will find yourself seriously considering watching his up-coming TV show, even knowing they are likely to turn the ultra-right-wing d-bag dial up to thirteen (from eleven, obviously). And his rivalry with Bloodsport is one of the highlights.

Ratcatcher’s paternal bond with Bloodsport. In the first movie, Harley and Deadshot had a weird relationship. Half of it was Deadshot warming to Harley as a surrogate for his daughter, but the other half was setting him up as a quasi-love-interest for her post-Joker life. I don’t think this was an Oscar Isaac in every scene of Star Wars, “wait, so now he’s going to be a love interest for whatever character he’s in this scene with, too, including his ball droid (no pun intended)?” or even leftover chemistry from the pair working together as a romantic partners in Focus. Quinn, as a shrink, would all but certainly have turned up her nose and diagnosed that confusion as an Elektra complex. But this movie makes Ratcatcher and Bloodsport work; she’s just sweet and naïve enough we understand how he’d see his daughter in her, and he’s just damaged enough that she can see her father in him, and both want to save the other, in more ways than one (just not that one, because it would be icky- and, no, I don’t mean in a taboo hot way, either , you weirdos).

The chapter breaks. Not only are they visually interesting, sometimes even beautiful, but they’re fun and keep the movie’s momentum going in ways that are inventive and entertaining.

The way the movie treats Waller. This one is likely the most spoilery I’m going to get, but when the movie finally steps back from Waller and basically says, “Maybe the real villain is standing in this room,” it works for the plot, it works for the characters involved, and it does the most heavy lifting bridging the continuity between movies as this quasi-sequel, sort-of reboot does. I wish it had gotten there earlier, but it happens when it needs to, in a way that might well have been forced by the very structure set up for it in the first Suicide Squad. Seriously, though, there’s no reasonable way a third movie happens after this; Waller’s mismanagement makes her casualty rate way too high. Either Waller needs to be full rogue at that point, and she’s the one the Squad goes after, maybe for running her own even more black ops variant of the Squad even further off the books and more corrupt, or they need to be offering a full pardon. Because ten years off what are for most of them multiple life sentences isn’t worth it if you’re told to walk through a wall of bullets, and increasingly that seems to be the case (her murder of Savant in particular seems exceedingly cruel and pointless).

But I want another Nom Nom. When?

*The snappy dialog that could have bettered the movie

You waded through my whole self-important, half-baked criticism, so you deserve a treat. I’ll warn you, just knowing who is alive at this point in the film is probably the biggest spoiler I’m posting, so don’t continue reading if that’s a problem for you.

***

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***

***

***

The remaining members of the Suicide Squad are walking away from the menace, with a, “way above my paygrade” look on their faces. Close on the mud, as Polka Dot Man stamps his little white boot down.

POLKA DOT MAN
I’m not letting my mother do to them what she did to me.

Ratcatcher leans into Bloodsport.

RATCATCHER
It won’t stay confined to this island.

Bloodsport sighs, turning back towards the threat, glancing at the hard drive literally up his sleeve.

BLOODSPORT
It isn’t really saving my daughter if she gets her face eaten by a starfish.

The pair turn together and walk towards Polka Dot Man. King Shark realizes everyone but him and Harley have turned around and are walking in the opposite directions.

KING SHARK
Friends?

He runs towards them, with all the bounce of a child on a playground, despite his size.

HARLEY
You’re all nuts.

Harley chokes back emotion.

HARLEY (quieter)
I feel like I’ve found my people.

She runs after them. They line up for a dramatic shot, and exchange knowing glances.

***

And scene. I was ballparking 20 seconds, but that’s…. probably about right (might expand to a minute or so, depending on how long you let moments breath). Everyone gets a line, everyone gets their character beat in the moment… and the found family vibe only gets stronger.

If you want a little more from me, I reviewed the Jim Lee/Rob Williams Suicide Squad comic, or if you’re looking for more original fare, I pitched a sequel to Birds of Prey. And I should be back next Wednesday with another Relevant Review, this one about some What If issues.

Relevant Review: The Suicide Squad comic (2016)

“If Polka-Dot Man can have meaning, any of us can.” -James Gunn, to Fandom.com

James Gunn, the man whose career is single-handedly proving there are no bad ideas, only crummy executions, was given the Suicide Squad to retool at a low ebb, having temporarily lost the reigns of the Guardians of the Galaxy (it was a whole crappy saga of right-wing crybaby pants-wetting)- or maybe his talent is limited to alliterative comics thing. But his ‘secret’ really seems to be giving a crap about his characters in a way a lot of us don’t feel cared about, and in making his misfits loveable, he makes all of us misfits in the audience feel like we can be loved, too. But this isn’t a review of a movie I haven’t seen and isn’t even out here, yet.

This is a review of similar/related, “You liked X, what to try next” stripe. Everyone knew the idea behind Suicide Squad was cool, a supervillain deniable ops unit run by the shadiest of government operatives, oh, and always with a body count of colorful has-beens. Note, the 2021 Gunn film really shouldn’t be mistaken for David Ayers’ much less polished, We Really Wish This Hadn’t Been Suicide Squad from 2016 (in the year of our simulation crapping the bed 000001).

Suicide Squad Rebirth Deluxe Edition

There are certainly newer Suicide Squad things to cover, but both being budget conscious and being a book I snapped up a while back on sale, I’ve been looking for an excuse to read the Rob Williams/Jim Lee book, which is on Comixology Unlimited as well as DC Universe (no word yet on when it might be coming to Marvel Comics Unlimited- and yes, I will likely continue to make variations on this joke until forced to stop, so write my congressperson).

Okay, it’s genuinely bizarre that this book starts (after a prologue) with Obama shutting down Waller’s black ops supervillain ring (obviously it doesn’t take, or we wouldn’t have a book). But it’s hard not to imagine what would have happened under the other guy… imagine Orange Thanos with a More Pornographic Chin with his own villain hit squad; he’d basically become doughy and less honest about his comb-over Lex Luthor (and way, way dumber). There’s a plot bunny* there, is what I’m saying, one on super-steroids with cybernetic components (this plot bunny might have a further, nested plot bunny- Russian nested plot bunnies- which might in itself constitute another plot bunny).

Sadly, the interlude doesn’t last; I could genuinely have gone for a slightly angrier Obama getting pissy that his supervillain smart bombs were just as messy as drone strikes, maybe even build in an arc about how people were starting to protest, after their origins got leaked, and you could have done a version of the drone debate, but for the ethics of using supervillains as an elite strike force with a justifiable body count (both civilian and their own). I’m… really not sure if it’s a sign of quality that a work like this creates plot bunnies just as quickly as actual rabbits procreate, or if it’s a sign that it’s not fulfilling its promise that there seem to be so many of the little bastards.

But to the squad. This story introduces Hack, a Harley fangirl, which seems… dumb, at least within the world of DC Comics, because the horrific crimes of the Joker make her a party to mass-murder and potentially genocide, plus the abuse inherent in their relationship is on pretty stark display, and lionizing the Quinnpin of Crime because she’s ‘free,’ while showing she’s also free of the constraints of sanity… it just doesn’t serve to do anything other than make Hack seem either stupid or thinly written. She’s also massively overpowered; she’s a technopath, meaning she can talk to/control tech, can download the contents of secure computers into her memory, oh, and teleport groups of people across massive distances over the internet, but in doing so effectively scans them, allowing her the ability to basically xerox people and (potential spoiler) recreate them if they die. It’s… not great.

The team in the 2016 book seems like a less colorful version than even the ones we got in the Ayer movie- like the roster is similar, but they’re all doing variations on quipping action hero stereotypes whose butt-cheeks remain permanently clenched so tightly they can’t actually be witty or interesting, and Harley Quinn, who’s doing a nonsequitir but also not terribly interesting Coocoo’s Nest. 

I think even then, I might have liked the book if it was sticking the landing on serious realism (within the four-color comic reality), but it misses both the possibility of interpersonal drama and the pathos of the intrapersonal. Like, Enchantress and Killer Croc have a burgeoning relationship, largely because they both are treated like monsters but on the inside just want to be normal, decent people. They don’t deal with this in any real way, where June is kind of horrified that what is technically not bestiality but is really really close to it for comfort is part of that equation; it’s basically missing the interesting subtext of the beauty and the beast story it’s doing. And you might have even been able to justify it, if their eventual hook-up was played for a joke, even, the equivalent of a drunk one-night stand and waking up to someone you would not have chosen sober. But instead it just kind of… happens. It lands with a thud, no dramatic payoff, no pathos, no character having an interesting character moment, no romance, it just… exists. Story as shit happening, people quipping, but no one really caring (also known as the overly superficial read of the MCU’s house style).

Another example happens during the same story. Belle Reve prison (also the Squad’s HQ) has, through contrivance, had all of the people within essentially reverse polarities. That means most nice characters turn nasty, most sane ones turn homicidal, and Harley Quinn puts down her Coocoo Puffs. As essentially the only member of the Squad still capable, saving the day falls on her thin shoulders. This should have been a really interesting story for her, think Flowers for Algernon, but if, at the climax, the rat had to sacrifice his intelligence to save a bunch of people; it could have been both tragic and heroic, and cemented her as a character to be reckoned with (and Williams, too). And instead it’s mostly an excuse for Harley to put her hair up, wear a white coat and glasses, and use a little more strategy than her usually chaotic plans allow for. There’s if memory serves a line that tangentially mentions that another character is aware that she’ll be sacrificing something, but Harley isn’t even really conflicted, let alone devastated at what she’s about to lose.

I’ll spin this out into a separate blog, since it’s getting wordy, but the comic isn’t living up to its full dramatic potential. But it’s got good bones. Recognizing the story potential, and getting it most of the way there, isn’t the default. I wouldn’t be surprised if Rob Williams grows into one of the better comic story-tellers around. And of course, Jim Lee’s art, as always, is beautiful. High-tech, expressive, detailed and always very consistent.

I’d say at a minimum flip through it. If you’re looking for a place to start on Suicide Squad… I don’t know that I could suggest it be here. Maybe it’s just that, four years later, it feels very much like what it was, a companion to Ayer’s movie version: not as fun as it should be, not as smart as it could be, but also nowhere near as dark as is should be, either. Better, unequivocally (I made the mistake of rewatching the extended cut of the movie to prep for the sequel, and it’s… worse than I remembered, even though I remembered not liking it). For now, go see Birds of Prey, instead. I liked it enough I pitched a sequel, which no one will make, but hopefully you’ll get a kick out of. You’re welcome.

Pitchgiving 2020 Bonus: Birds of Prey 2

We open on a mugging/assault in an alley, filmed to remind of the opening of Batman 89, taking place on top of a rooftop. In swoops a younger woman in black, rubber armor, without Bat accoutrements. Underneath it is Cassandra Cain. The rescuer throws the attacker down, and the victim squeals while fleeing, and the camera follows her, revealing Harley, watching from the shadows, whispering, “You got this.”

Cassandra tries to make herself bigger with each word, building dramatically towards the ellipsis, “I am vengeance, I am the night, I am… still working on the name. What do you think of Bian-Fu?” The attacker turns his head, then dives at her, and they both roll over the edge of the roof.

Harley runs to the edge of the roof saying, “Shit shit shit shit shit.” There are two cracks, followed by the sound of zipping rope.

The attacker is suspended just above the concrete, close enough he could lick it, while Cassandra is holding onto a grapnel beside him. She drops down to the concrete. “You okay?” a woman asks from behind her. Cassandra spins to see Batgirl, looking really cool in her costume, but also confident and personable. Cassandra nods, a little starstruck. “I won’t be a hypocrite and tell you not to do this, but I will tell you it takes a lot of work, a lot of time and a lot of training. Give me a call some time, if you want some tips, or just somebody to talk to.” She gives her a card with a bat symbol and a phone number on it.

Harley, a freaking wreck, runs up as Batgirl grapnels away, huffing and bent over. “Y’okay?” she wheezes.

“So cool,” Cassandra says, barely aware of Harley’s presence.

Cut to Harley’s car, as they drive away.

“So I’ve been thinking about the name. My whole thing kind of keeps petering out. How about Bat-Woman?”

“I’m not sure the homage comes through if you’re one-upping her in the name. Plus there’s already one of them.”

“Bat… wing?”

“There’s already a guy. Or person.”

“Bat… Rock… the Lepper?

“That is the stupidest name I’ve ever heard. How about Black Bat?”

“But I’m not Black.”

“Aw, honey, it’s not the 60s anymore. Black heroes don’t have to put ‘black’ in their names just so the cops don’t shoot them.” Very quick cut to Bat Wing getting shot by cops (he’ll survive, because of the armor- but it still stings). “Right, Bat Wing got shot by the cops just last Thursday; should have went with Black Bat. But there aren’t a lot of ‘Bat’ names left. Unless you want to be a Bat Hound.”

They sing spontaneously together with an Elvisy twang, “You ain’t nothing but a Bat Hound- you ain’t never caught a Riddler and you ain’t no friend of mine,” and then go back to the conversation as if nothing happened.

Harley: “Or, you could choose to name yourself after another woman who selflessly saved your life.”

“Yeah. I could be Harley’s Hemorrhoid.”

“Turned out that was just Chipotle. I wonder if that counts as product placement?”

“That depends on where you put the Chipotle.”

Harley’s phone alarm goes off. “Oh, we’ve got to meet the girls.” Harley drives out into the Gotham Hills, to a plant sanctuary. They get out of the car, and Poison Ivy descends from an open window of a glass dome atrium, riding atop a magnificent, vicious looking plant, looking both elegant and terrifying (if you’re looking for a casting suggestion Lake Bell is great and voices her on the animated series- a nested suggestion: go watch the Harley Quinn animated series).

“Hey, Harles,” Ivy says.

“Great, she’s babysitting again,” Catwoman says, melting out of the shadows. Cassandra flips her the bird.

Harley leans in to Cass and whispers, “Okay, I see why you didn’t want to go with Cat Girl.”

“That, and the weeaboos would never leave me alone.”

“We ready?” Ivy asks.

Harley: “Joker’s taken so much- from all of us. I think it’s time we show him how loss feels.”

Actiony scene, where Catwoman sneaks in and disables the security alarms, Ivy infiltrates the guard station and subdues them, all while Harley and Cass create a distraction.

They all meet up inside the warehouse, planning to mop up, only for it to turn into a shoot out. See, the warehouse in question is a weapons cache- most of the Joker’s arms storage. So the few remaining goons are able to arm up, and quickly, so we get a high caliber fight scene.

“I thought if we cut off their weapons supplies, the rest would be easier,” Harley says as bullets whiz past her.

“I don’t think we should let her do the thinking anymore,” Catwoman says, whipping her way up into the rafters. She drops behind one of the shooters, taking him out. Ivy uses undercooked broccoli in one of the gunmen’s stomachs to grow, popping out of him like an Alien. Harley fires a novelty gun that shoots a boxing glove wrapped around a brick into the third shooter. There’s a fourth, surprise gunmen that Cass takes out before he can shoot Harley in the back.

Cut to later, the Birds of Prey surveying the damage. “We’re too late,” says the Question (Montoya); and yes, she is wearing the faceless mask. There are burnt crates of weapons and ammo still smoldering.

“What the hell happened here?” Canary asks.

“Arms smuggling seems a given,” a new voice says, as Batgirl lands right behind Huntress. Huntress reacts by spinning, and jabbing with a knife from her belt. Batgirl rolls her, peeling the knife away and dropping her on her back fluidly. “Didn’t mean to surprise you. But these guns have been illegally modified, and there are enough to assume this is more than just a personal stash. It’s enough to arm a small army. Or a gang. Name on the deed is Jack White-”

“The White Stripes guy?” Huntress asks, dusting herself off.

“It’s probably an alias.”

“So we assume these are gang related. Who would trash their weapons? A rival gang would take them for themselves.”

“That is the question, Question; your name is kind of confusing.” I’m suddenly hearing Rachel Brosnahan as Batgirl… and I really like that idea.

I think we stay with the Birds, as they try to figure out where the next strike on Mr. White’s holdings will be, back at Barbara’s Clocktower. It’s here we meet Oracle, Batgirl’s logistics expert (in a wheelchair, and I’ll reiterate my support for casting Kiera Allen from Run because she- and it- are amazing). Babs saved her, once upon a time; for my money, I think it’s more compelling if she was already in the chair. Oracle used her savvy with computers to track her back down to repay her- by saving her life (I think her original attack was designed by Joker to smoke Batgirl out- which Oracle figured out, preventing Joker from shooting her). Since then, she’s been feeding her, and to a lesser extent, the rest of the Bat Family, with leads, intel, research- whatever they need that she can provide remotely.

This includes an extensive web of Jack White’s holdings. She notes that Jack White doesn’t exist (Canary asks who wrote all the White Stripes’ music, then?), but that several of his businesses are definitely fronts for illegal activity. She theorizes that either he himself is dirty, or his anonymity or even his name are being used by someone as a shield. Oracle and Batgirl have figured out the five most likely targets, and each one of them is going to sit on one- not to engage, but to observe, and call in backup if and when anyone of interest shows. The targets are divided into the likeliest attackers: a rival gang would likely look to cripple White’s biggest money maker, a night club, on the assumption that it disrupts his legitimate cash flow, but also disrupts his ability to clean cash from his clandestine enterprises. A vigilante or rogue law enforcement would try to expose him as a criminal, which means hitting his shipping warehouse, likely the point of entry for the guns and also likely any other illicit substances. Anyway, they all take one, with Batgirl handing out assignments. Batgirl takes Ace Chemical, bought by White for pennies on the dollar after Harley Quinn destroyed it. Rumor has it that White uses it as a sort of de facto headquarters. She’s able to listen through the vibrations in an unbroken window to White making plans, but doesn’t see him, and is just about to confront him when Canary calls them in.

She admits she thought about taking Harley herself- until she saw her entourage, and thought maybe she’d need the backup, after all. They arrive after the fighting is done, as the Sirens are torching more of White’s merchandise (I’m going to say it’s a chemical supply company). The Sirens flee when the Birds arrive, and they give chase. The Sirens run into a sewer, and Montoya hopes they won’t have to fight any killer crocs down there, when a sewer plant grows to the size of a person (giving the middle finger), and blocks their entrance. Batgirl calls Oracle for a map of the sewers, but unfortunately they’re right at a junction point- the Sirens could have gone virtually anywhere. Batgirl, conspiratorially, asks Oracle how their tracker is working, and she says they’ve got a clear signal.

We zoom in on Black Bat’s new cape, black and fringed like Batgirl’s. There’s a tracker attached to it (with a blinking light, if it’s too subtle- but I otherwise want to be subtle with it). The Sirens are triumphant. They’ve not only knocked over two of the Joker’s places, but they managed to get away from Batgirl and ‘those other dorks’ (Harley’s words). They feel on top of the world.

Harley argues they go for the kill, now. If they keep nipping around at the edges, it’s only a matter of time before “Puddin’- I mean, Mistah J, sets us up an ugly surprise. He almost got the Bat a couple of times, with those surprises. He’s got a real knack for hurting people.” Catwoman argues the counter- wanting to be methodical. She wants to take his empire away a piece at a time, so that a broke, disarmed and alone Joker is their prey- and they don’t have to wade through an army of goons with guns. Black Bat sides with Harley, but Catwoman argues she’s a sidekick, and a trainee, and Harley’s Hemorrhoid, so she doesn’t get a say. So it all comes down to Ivy, who sides with Harley, because she knows him, and not just as a gross ex, but as a patient- about as intimately as a person can know someone like him. Catwoman refuses to get killed for their vendettas, and leaves. They ask Black Bat if she can handle Catwoman’s part of the plan; she reminds them she was a pickpocket and a thief.

Cut back to the Clocktower. Batgirl plays back audio for the rest of them of the end of the last line in the previous scene. She tells them she got a tracker on one of them, and Oracle picked up audio with a drone- that they can put an end to these break-ins if they work together. The Birds aren’t sure about her- especially her compartmentalizing, but reluctantly agree. Cut to later, them on an adjacent rooftop outside of Ace. They watch as Harley kicks in the front door, and we follow Harley inside. She doesn’t get far, before she’s picked out by a spotlight.

Jack White emerges, looking human for now, giving her a slow clap. He threatens her, not too subtly, pretty much confirming he’s who we think he is in the subtext, but with just enough gaslighting that we can’t know completely for sure. The lights go off, then all the lights come back up. White’s gone, and Ivy and Black Bat have arrived. They’re attacked by the Birds of Prey, who gain the upper hand until Catwoman emerges from the shadows to even the odds, telling Black Bat “Cats may seem fickle and disloyal- independence and stubbornness are in our nature. But we always come back for those we care about.” And they are very even, with Ivy as the only really super-powered one (Canary’s cry notwithstanding), it’s a very street-level fight; Barbara takes on Ivy, and has a bevy of gadgets Bruce has used on her in the past so she’s able to keep her at a manageable threat level.

Eventually, a disgusted Jack White emerges once more from the shadows on a gang plank. He’s having a good time, even if it’s clear he’s roiling with anger over the damage done to his operations. He tells his henchmen to end the stalemate and kill them all. There’s lots of possibilities, here, but probably I’d throw in Firefly (who I imagine fights Ivy and Batgirl), who’s always a colorful, visually interesting villain, and then some regular hench people for the rest of them to kick. When it looks like he’s winning, a triumphant White removes his mask to reveal that he is in fact the Joker.

Harley and Black Bat are able to break away from the fighting to chase him (because I like the idea that this mirrors the first BoP). He uses several joke shop gag weapons, all of which Harley is able to dodge while pursuing him. He stops, spins around, and says they’ve got him, only to drop into a folding chair, onto a whoopie cushion that fires a bullet in slow-mo into Black Bat. He tells her she can catch him- but her partner will bleed out by the time she gets back. She punches Joker, breaking his jaw (it dangles sickeningly in an exaggerated rictus grin). “That wasn’t funny,” he says overly seriously, standing by a hole in the wall that used to be a door leading to a fire exit. He grabs a life raft off the wall, steps to the ledge, and inflates it. It rips him into the air as it rapidly inflates with ultra light gases, carrying him away. He can’t help himself, laughing as he flees.

Harley attends to Black Bat. She can’t stop the bleeding herself- even her medical training can’t compensate for the fact that she doesn’t have any supplies and they’re in a filthy derelict chemical plant. Until Batgirl arrives. She has an adhesive to stop the bleeding, and one of Oracle’s drones is actually equipped with medical supplies; together they get Black Bat stable enough for transport to the hospital. As an ambulance arrives, Batgirl supplies them with one more item; a pair of surgical scissors. She tells them Cassandra Cain might have to explain a gunshot wound to the ER staff, but Black Bat would almost certainly be arrested on site. Black Bat says, “You knew?”

Batgirl says she knew the whole time, that she recognized her picture from juvenile records. She tells them both her secret is safe with her. Montoya comes in, barking orders at the medics, explaining the GSW. Batgirl swings Harley away from the police, dropping her off on the neighboring rooftop. Harley asks where that leaves them- are they going to fight now? Batgirl tells her she isn’t prepared to judge anyone else who chooses to fight for a better world- at least not while they’re picking worthy targets like the Joker. She says she likes her- and likes the kid even more- so she hopes they’re never going to be on opposite sides of that divide. As she swings away, Harley says she’s all right, for one of the bats. Then she realizes she’s been stranded on a rooftop, and looks over the edge and asks, “Wait, how do I get down?”

Back at the Clocktower, Huntress is annoyed she let them escape. Batgirl clarifies that they let Harley and Black Bat escape from the Funhouse (in the previous movie). Canary adds that they also let Catwoman and Ivy go, too. Batgirl smiles, and says she’s sure they’ll see them around. To black, with the text, “The Birds of Prey will return.”

Credits. Mid-credits scene. Ivy and Harley, in civilian clothes, are dragging a clearly uncomfortable Catwoman into the hospital. Cassandra’s eyes light up at the site of them. Harley’s got an oversized beaver for her, Ivy’s got a potted plant, and Catwoman has a jewel case, which she opens to reveal the Bertinelli Diamond from BoP1. “Helena’s going to be pissed,” Harley says. Things are kind of awkward, and it’s sort of clear Ivy and Catwoman are kind of looking for a reason to exit. Harley brings up their next big score. She says she’s been thinking, and the Penguin’s always been a dick. Last time she ate at the Iceberg Lounge, he pinched her ass- and not over the clothes, either, he got his flipper up her skirt. Prick’s just asking for it.

“The Arctic Bird does have a lot of nice ice,” Catwoman purrs.

“He bulldozed the only natural habitat for the Gotham Lilly to build his tacky little lounge,” Ivy says angrily.   

Camera pans to Cassandra, and the others are waiting for her reply. “Uh, I’m pretty sure he has fish-breath.”

Close on Harley. “Gotham City Sirens,” cut to black, as she says, quieter, “assemble.”

We’re going to play some games with text. First, white text on black: The Gotham City Sirens Will Be Back.

“We’re already here,” Ivy replies.

A red marker rearranges the sentence to, “Will The Gotham City Sirens Be Back?”

Harley: “Then it’s Clobberin’ time.”

“What does that mean?” Catwoman asks.

We do a circle zoom in on Cassandra. “Wait, I think I got it. Stop: Hammer Time.” Back to black. Over the rest of the credits, Harley, with her big mallet, Hammer Dances in Hammer pants to “Can’t Touch This.” You’re welcome.