Birds of Prey was a legitimately unusual comic book beast. Not only was it female-driven (and -directed, and -written), but it was goofier, grittier, and gleefully R-rated, and not in the smirking manner of a Deadpool entry. But if you try to watch it on HBO Max, you’re in for a rude awakening: The version that currently lives there has been censored, whittled down to a PG-13 (or thereabouts). And the movie’s fans are pissed.
As per ComicBook.com, the version of Birds of Prey on the streamer now opens with a curious message: “This film has been modified as follows from its original version: it has been edited for content.” It’s the kind of wordage one usually sees on edited TV versions of R-rated movies.
That’s because that’s exactly what it was. A Warner Bros. spokesperson later told IGN that the broadcast cable version, which would normally air on places like TNT, was “mistakenly added to the service.” They said the “unedited original version will be available on HBO Max instead.”
As of this writing, the mistake still hasn’t been corrected. Despite a note claiming it’s Rated R, the version on HBO Max still has the “edited for content” disclaimer and runs about six minutes shorter than the one released to theaters.
Birds of Prey — full title: (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn), despite the seemingly failed attempt to rename it — was the second film to feature Margot Robbie’s quasi-villainous Harley Quinn, plucking her away from the Suicide Squad (as well as her ex-beau Joker) and teaming her with four fellow female badasses. It also featured a fried egg breakfast sandwich for the ages.
When people noticed Birds of Prey was cut to shreds, they were not pleased.
— Reuben Baron (@AndalusianDoge) November 26, 2021
So HBO Max has completely butchered Birds of Prey with a PG-13 edit, this is embarrassing pic.twitter.com/jQOyp9pT3k
— Neb | 🏳️🌈 (@NebsGoodTakes) November 27, 2021
— Isabelle (@isabellecritic) November 27, 2021
Some, noticing that R-rated boys comic book fare hadn’t been censored, called it sexism.
For what? You have a shit load of men's R-rated superhero and action films on there, uncensored and all. Why is Birds of Prey getting the puritan slap? Newsflash: women can swear and be crude too. https://t.co/mo1j9ZXQ8V
— Ileana "Support Latinx 🎥 Critics" Meléndez (@CaptainMelendez) November 27, 2021
Ok you know what, I'm furious about this.
The Suicide Squad was one of the most gratuitously violent films I've EVER seen, and that premiered and lives on HBO Max. In fact, that movie is heavily influenced by Birds of Prey.
Wonder what the difference is 🙃 pic.twitter.com/JcvmDwPofh
— ✨Lys✨ (@WhimsyDesigns) November 27, 2021
And others reminded people the importance of purchasing physical media and not relying on the whims of streamers.
Birds of Prey is no longer on HBO Max.
They can’t reedit your blu-rays, people! https://t.co/4oeUX2tpNa
— tacomatic (@fullytacomatic) November 27, 2021