"Birds of Prey" is in theaters, with some interesting takes on our favorite comics characters — some spot on, some wildly different. Let us compare and contrast a few of them.
Birds of Prey: This all-female superhero team began in 1996 as a team-up, starring Barbara Gordon (as wheelchair-bound cyberwarrior Oracle), with Black Canary as her field agent. When fan-favorite writer Gail Simone took over in 2003 she permanently added Huntress, and that trio is considered the classic lineup. The movie doesn't come close until the end, which establishes Black Canary, Huntress and ex-cop Renee Montoya as a team calling itself BoP.
Harley Quinn: Harleen Quinzel first appeared as The Joker's henchman/besotted girlfriend on "Batman: The Animated Series" and was quickly adopted by the comics. I always had a problem with the character: I didn't laugh when she called the man who beat her "puddin'." I felt sorry for her. But that drawback has been solved. All versions of today's Harley — comics, TV and movies — have evolved into the same one. Everywhere you see her these days, she's a sadder but wiser, Jokerless, somewhat lunatic anti-hero.
Black Canary: Dinah "Black Canary" Drake premiered in 1947, in an era when a lot of white characters had "black" in their name (Black Condor, Black Terror, etc.). When black superheroes began appearing in the '60s, very often they had "black" in their name (Black Panther, Black Lightning, etc.). In "Birds of Prey" the two trends got married and gave us a black Black Canary.
Huntress: In the movie and much of her comics career, Huntress is Helena Bertinelli, a Mafia princess whose family is slaughtered before her eyes, then raised by gangsters, and adopts her costumed identity to get revenge ... before softening into a nonlethal superhero. I found it an interesting story choice to depict movie-Huntress as unsocialized and clumsy. It was played for laughs, and it was funny, but IMO it's a criminal underuse of accomplished actress Mary Elizabeth Winstead ("Fargo").
Renee Montoya: Another character lifted from "Batman: The Animated Series," Renee has been a lesbian cop (and ex-cop) in most of her comics appearances. Ditto the movie.
Cassandra Cain: This is the biggest divide between movie and comics. Cassandra in the comics is the daughter of assassins, who allowed her no verbal interaction as she grew up and trained her. She has limited verbal skills, as her "native language" is body language — she can read attacks by an opponent by watching how they move. Adopted by Batman, she took the Batgirl identity, then became Black Bat and now Orphan. In the movies, Cassandra is a young pickpocket who lives with foster parents. The only thing she has in common with her comics counterpart is that both are Asian.