Depending on who you ask, movies and politics may or may not belong intertwined. While some fans want pure escapism when they hit the theater, others enjoy it when films have something to say. But no one probably expected DC Films’ Birds of Prey to directly relate to politics.
The upcoming film serves as a Suicide Squad spinoff for Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn. But beyond that, Birds of Prey brings many longtime Batman characters to the big screen for the first time. The female-led ensemble cast includes Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, and Rosie Perez.
But a lot of the attention will be on Ewan McGregor, who plays the main villain in director Cathy Yan’s upcoming film.
Who’s Ewan McGregor playing in ‘Birds of Prey’?
In the film, McGregor plays Roman Sionis a.k.a. Black Mask, a vicious crime lord who begins hunting young Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco). Introduced in the comics in 1985, the character has become a popular foe for Batman and his allies. Traditionally known for his mask resembling a black skull, he has an affinity for torture and a genius criminal mind.
Birds of Prey marks Black Mask’s first live-action film appearance. However, the character has been featured in a season 1 episode of Gotham and various animated series and video games. Thanks to his look and powerful presence in Gotham, Black Mask’s big-screen debut is something that fans have been waiting for.
How Black Mask is similar to Donald Trump
Black Mask has certainly taken his time making his way to theaters. But McGregor, in an interview with Men’s Journal, actually believes the over-the-top character is the perfect villain for “the time of Trump.”
The actor describes Black Mask as “an absolute narcissist,” someone who is “spoiled in his upbringing to the point of having no contact with what life or people are about.” Moreover, McGregor said his character “has a skin this thin and wants nothing more than to be the center of attention.”
While McGregor’s comments may put off some Trump supporters, it does seem like he had a clear vision for how to make Black Mask relevant for today’s audiences. Consider too the fact that Birds of Prey pits the villain against a team of women in a film directed by a woman. The political subtext then makes an even bolder statement, which may or may not appeal to fans.
What else does the actor have coming soon?
Although McGregor has never stopped working, his career has certainly heated up again in recent years. Since 2017, he has starred in T2 Trainspotting, Fargo Season 3, and Disney’s live-action Beauty and the Beast and Christopher Robin. Then, before Birds of Prey is released, he’s starring in Doctor Sleep, the sequel to The Shining.
Of course, McGregor is also slated to return as Obi-Wan Kenobi for a new Star Wars Disney+ series. Considering his recent projects, playing Black Mask in Birds of Prey feels like even more of a demonstration of his range. With any luck, the surrounding film will be as fun to watch as its trailer.
Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) hits theaters on February 7, 2020.