Leave It to Margot Robbie to Redeem an Avengelyne Movie


“You’ve been making women feel bad about themselves since you were invented,” the hip teen Sasha (Ariana Greenblatt) tells the stereotypical Barbie standing before her. “You represent everything wrong with our culture: sexualized capitalism, unrealistic physical ideals.” Stereotypical Barbie is horrified: “No, no, no, you’re describing something stereotypical,” she insists.

Margot Robbie spent much of Barbie proving why the doll she portrayed wasn’t the sexist object that girls like Sasha see. The Aussie actor has a much more difficult task ahead of her if she’s going to do the same thing in her upcoming project Avengelyne. Everything about Avengelyne screams mindless sex and violence—which is why Robbie is the perfect choice. Hold on, let us explain…

What is Avengelyne?

Avengelyne comes from the mind of Rob Liefeld, who overcame a lack of draftsmanship, composition, or style to become one of the most popular and influential comic book artists of the 1990s. Liefeld made his name on the X-Men spinoff The New Mutants, using his popularity to derail the stories that the series’ longtime writer Louise Simonson had been crafting and focus on his own creations, such as Cable and Deadpool. Although other creators made Cable and Deadpool into interesting characters in their own right, Liefeld imagined them as guys with big guns.

Liefeld kept that same adolescent mindset for his creator-owned works, which spawned Avengelyne. Liefeld shares a co-creator credit for Avengelyne with model Cathy Christian (best known for inspiring the look of Vampirella) and Image Comics editor Tony Lobito. Introduced in 1995’s Avengelyne #1 (why, yes, that issue does have a foil-embossed cover), Avengelyne is an angel cast out of heaven for her sins and who seeks redemption by fighting the demons who followed her.

In other words, it’s a lot like Spawn, created by Liefeld’s fellow Image founder Todd McFarlane, but about a mostly naked lady. In fact, Avengelyne exists largely as an excuse for artists to draw mostly naked ladies in various spine-cracking poses while holding a gigantic sword.

Avengalyne in Production Hell

Believe it or not, then, the Avengelyne premise has only proven rich enough to spawn a handful of miniseries, the most recent in 2011. However, this has not stopped Liefeld from trying to expand to movies where apparently a mostly naked lady will be novel enough of a concept to make up for any compelling story or character. In 2012, Hollywood Reporter announced that Liefeld and MMA-fighter-turned-Star-Wars-actor Gina Carano had teamed up to make an Avengelyne film. According to the report, the film would be “in the vein of Underworld, the popular vampire-vs.-werewolves franchise starring Kate Beckinsale.”

Four years later, Deadline reported that Paramount Pictures had secured rights to Avengelyne with Akiva Goldsman attached to write. As the writer of Batman & Robin and I Am Legend, who also won an Academy Award for A Beautiful Mind, Goldsman has a long track record of bringing geek properties to the screen. However, he soon focused his attention on rebooting Star Trek for Paramount with Alex Kutrzman.

While most of those announcements make sense on some level, the latest is a surprise. Yesterday, Deadline reported Olivia Wilde would direct Avengelyne with Margot Robbie attached as the lead. A longtime actor with credits in genre projects such as Tron: Legacy, Wilde drew attention for her directorial debut Booksmart, a fun and sympathetic comedy about overachieving high school girls. Her follow-up Don’t Worry Darling, however, failed to impress, as backstage gossip drew more attention than the film’s Stepford Wives inspired plot.

To be honest, none of the above information sounds like the makings of a good movie. But there is one reason to be optimistic: Margot Robbie.

Robbie Redeems Avengelyne

Early in 2016’s Suicide Squad, the entire movie stops to stare at Harley Quinn. Harley has jut been wheeled out with the film’s other bad guys turned antiheroes, including Deadshot (Will Smith) and Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney). All of the above are then told to get ready for battle. While we do get shots of Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje’s Killer Croc ripping off his shirt and El Diablo (Jay Hernandez) pulling on a muscle-shirt, no one gets the same attention as Harley Quinn. The camera starts at her feet and takes its time moving up to her face, catching the last few seconds before her shirt covers her bright red bra. The music cuts out as Harley notices everyone staring at her. “What?” she asks, and they all get back to work.

Such is the assignment given to Robbie in Suicide Squad, a terrible film no matter who has final edit. She must be crazy, look hot, and want to be a traditional housewife with the Joker. It’s a thankless role, but not too far from the character in the comics and cartoon. After all, for nearly all the years between her debut in Batman: The Animated Series and Suicide Squad, Harley was a psychiatrist who fell in love with the Joker. The Joker then manipulated and abused her to the point that she lost all of her personality and became beholden to her boyfriend. Also little girls could buy costumes to dress up like Harley for Halloween.

And yet, Robbie brought real pathos to Harley, beyond what little sat on the page. Sure, she had to give a crazy smile when flirting with Common and deliver clunkers like “Don’t you get it? We’re the bad guys?” But she asks “What?” in the aforementioned dressing scene like a real person, not just as a sexy figure to be leered at.

When Robbie got more control over the character, first in Birds of Prey, or the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn and then The Suicide Squad, she pushed her farther. In Birds of Prey, Harley dumps the Joker and establishes her own personality, all while remembering that she actually has a Ph.D. in psychology. The Suicide Squad keeps some of the insanity from the David Ayer movie but refigures it as a sort of colorful fantasia, reimagining her as a Disney princess gone mad.

Thanks to Robbie, Harley Quinn went from sexist caricature to the most well-rounded character in the DCEU. Thanks to Robbie and collaborators like Greta Gerwig, whom she handpicked to be Barbie‘s director, that movie went from being about a little plastic doll to one building an allegory about a three-dimensional character with real pathos and longing.

Avengelyne, with her oft-tattered clothing and pretentious lore, presents a real challenge. But if anyone can pull it off, it’s Margot Robbie.

The post Leave It to Margot Robbie to Redeem an Avengelyne Movie appeared first on Den of Geek.

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