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How the cast of Birds of Prey should really look

Birds of Prey is a movie of substance, but that doesn't mean it slacks on style. On the contrary, in fact: Birds of Prey understands that style is essential to conveying substance, and demonstrates this knowledge with as many sequins, body chains, and lurid streaks of eyeshadow as it can. Harley Quinn's eyebrows are rhinestoned, Black Canary's ears sparkle with multiple studs, and Black Mask's suits are as brightly flocked as Marie Antoinette's wallpaper — and those are only the minor details of these characters' ever-changing looks. Forget the monochrome deserts of body armor other action-packed cinema condemns you to: Birds of Prey is as much a runway as it is a rumble.

Given the superhero genre is as known for its eye-catching costumes as its action, it should come as no surprise that Birds of Prey's outre aesthetic is rooted in the comics. Yet few of its characters are identical to their print counterparts, with some so changed as to be nearly unrecognizable. How do the Birds of the screen compare to the Birds of the page? The answers will surprise you — and possibly encourage a trip to the mall.

Harley Quinn

Clothes make a statement, and the statement shouted by Harley Quinn's outfit is that more is most definitely more. Necklaces heavy with charms, acid-yellow overalls, transparent plastic motorcycle jackets heavy with fringe in a galaxy's worth of patterns, colors, and textures — they're all in her closet and then some. Harley never met a color she didn't like, piles on jewelry by the pound, and power-clashes on principle. If there is a uniting factor to her wardrobe, it is her love of contrasting the traditionally feminine against the rugged. Pigtails, red lipstick, and ostentatious jewelry sit alongside ragged cut-offs, stick-and-poke tattoos, and smeared eyeshadow, creating an aesthetic tension that perfectly suits a buttoned-up psychiatrist who ran off to join the murderous circus.

The Harley Quinn of cartoons and comics, however, sports a very different look. Her debut in the Batman: The Animated Series episode "Joker's Favor" established what was to be the character's dominant design for years to come: a sleek unitard in red and black, its pattern echoing traditional jester's motley. That costume endures to this day, though recent DC comics have expanded her wardrobe fairly dramatically. If a dominant look has emerged, it's the roller derby-inspired design created by artist Amanda Conner for the character's 2014 solo series. Even that outfit retains the red-and-black of the 1992 design, however, marking the cinematic Harley as having a truly unique look.

Black Canary

Birds of Prey's Black Canary sports a look as intimidating as it is cool. On stage, she is swathed in black fabric, her hair bisecting her face in a dramatic curtain of bronze. Elsewhere, she dons a gold crop top, high-waisted pants, and a plethora of accessories. She's a little bit punk, a little bit glam, and a little bit goth — and in combining them all with a toss of her hair, entirely her own brand of cool.

The Black Canary of the comics is among the best-dressed of the DC Universe as well, yet in very different fashion. The character's most well-known look features a black leotard, a bolero jacket, fishnet tights, and boots, its details flexible enough to change with the times while remaining recognizable. It's a costume that can lean more or less moto-chic, frayed punk, or pristine bombshell, depending upon the situation, and as such, has emerged as one of DC's best designs. Though it's starkly different from her movie duds, its spirit is similar: striking, stylish, versatile fashion for a woman as comfortable in the streets as she is on stage.

Black Mask

Black Mask isn't into subtlety. He is, after all, lord of his club-bound kingdom — why not shake up the typical businessman's wardrobe? His suits might be as well-cut as any banker's, but he has them made in green velvet and floral prints, paired with monogrammed gloves and vivid pocket squares. There's a flamboyance to the villain, rooted in his success. He dresses according to his own tastes, because he's built a world in which his tastes are the only ones that matter.

The Black Mask of the comics, in contrast, sticks to the classics. His suits — and truly, all he seems to wear are suits — are beautifully made, but largely understated. If he branches out, it's by wearing pinstripes, a double-breasted cut, or a simple pocket square. This understated canvas highlights the true departure of his design: the black mask he takes his name from. Carved from the ebony wood of his father's coffin, he is rarely seen without it — especially as, in some continuities, it was literally burned onto his face. This suits Black Mask just fine, however, as the character of the comics is singularly focused on power, control, and inflicting pain. He's a terrifying man who lives to see his enemies, their cronies, and more than a few innocent bystanders suffer beneath his thumb. Not the kind of dude to experiment with sunglasses, but very much the sort to enjoy trading his normal face in for a terrifyingly inhuman facade.

Victor Zsasz

Birds of Prey's Victor Zsasz looks like the consummate creep. His clothes aren't much to look at — mostly forgettable slacks and coats with the occasional pop of color from a button-down — but the way he wears them says it all. He slouches, sneers, and never seems to be without a knife hidden in one of his many pockets, all the better to brandish at the Birds. Add in a bleached crop of hair and prominent facial scars, and he looks every inch the violent enforcer of Black Mask's sinister intentions that he is.

The Victor Zsasz of the comics is similarly unpleasant, but to very different ends. He's painfully thin, often shirtless, and absolutely covered in tally marks — one for each life he's claimed. This Zsasz is a demented serial killer, and his negligible clothing underlines this fact with every panel: He's more animal urge than conscious man, so connected to his killing that he makes sure it's the first thing anyone knows about him. His eyes tend to bulge and roll, his teeth to clench in manic glee, a knife ever-present in his wiry hands. The cinematic Zsasz might look like the jerk lurking in the alley, but the comics Zsasz looks like he's straight out of a nightmare.

Cassandra Cain

Remember the skater kids you knew in high school who, rain or shine, never seemed to leave the patch of pavement they'd claimed as their practice space/chill zone? That's the sort of look the cinematic Cassandra Cain sports: clothes for running, hanging out, lying low. Her cutoffs are the classic kind, having clearly begun their life as actual jeans she took scissors to instead of facsimiles created in the factory, topped by layers of hoodies, t-shirts, and jackets. Her most distinguishing feature is the hot-pink cast on her arm, crowded with doodles of guns, playing cards, and sundry other teenage marginalia. She's the punk kid in every sense: deliberately ragged, uninterested in fashion, and likely to be kicked out of any given corner store for loitering.

The comics' Cassandra Cain sports a far sleeker look. Each superheroic persona she's claimed — Batgirl, Black Bat, and Orphan being the three most prominent — has come clad in black and yellow, closely-fit to her body for maximum stealth. Her Batgirl costume, likely still her most well-known look, obscures her hair and face, exchanges the classic yellow gloves and boots for black ones, and hollows out the bat-symbol on her chest into a simple yellow outline. This isn't cheery librarian Barbara Gordon, but a shadow of the Gotham skyline, devastating and unstoppable in her delivery of justice. A far cry from the grinning kid in shorts, but every bit as striking.

Renee Montoya

Played by the incomparable Rose Perez, Birds of Prey's Renee Montoya is a pillar of power. Her clothes enforce this: sleek slacks, button-downs, and blazers say, uncompromisingly, that this is not a woman to be messed with. Her clothes are pared down to the essentials — there are no pleats, appliques, or patterns to be found on Renee Montoya. The steely police officer only offsets her look with a simple gold chain and, occasionally, a pair of brass knuckles.

Generally speaking, the Renee of the comics keeps things similarly simple. But there's a casual edge to her clothes that the cinematic Renee lacks, especially when she's on the job. Though Renee does wear more formal clothes now and again, she favors t-shirts, jeans, and leather jackets — and, occasionally, her rattiest running clothes. As the Question, a role Renee assumed in the 2006 52 series, she keeps things a little more formal, wearing a suit, tie, fedora, and face-obscuring mask, yet 2019 issues of the Lois Lane comic dialed even that down to the hat, the mask, and the character's favored t-shirts and leather jackets. In both universes, Renee's clothes make one thing crystal clear: She is absolutely not to be messed with, and, in her practical shoes and boot-cut slacks, absolutely able to chase you down if you make an ill-advised break for it.

Huntress

Unlike certain other members of the Birds of Prey, Huntress largely sacrifices fashion for function. Sure, she enjoys shades of purple, crop tops, and leather, but she dispenses with the piled-on jewelry, prints, and whimsical jackets of her sisters in arms. Her look is tactical, even militaristic, incorporating body armor, motorcycle gear, and the movie's only utility belt. With her trademark crossbow in hand, she cuts a fearsome figure indeed — which is exactly what the ex-mafia princess wants.

Huntress maintains a similar look in the comics, favoring purple, leather, and enough pouches to keep her well-stocked in weaponry — yet with a fair few theatrical details the cinematic Huntress might balk at. Most prominent is her mask, a purple affair that, at its most dramatic, rises to two sharp points above her hairline. Witness too the cross motifs she's often incorporated (a nod to her Catholic upbringing), a whole host of crop tops and belly cut-outs quite a bit more revealing than the strip of belly her movie counterpart bares, and closet's worth of thigh-high boots. Huntress is never without her crossbow, signature color scheme, or a pouch or two to stow her bolts in, but that doesn't mean she's seen no changes since her 1989 debut.