As DC Comics fans eagerly await the release of Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) later this week, Cathy Yan, the film’s director, talked about her unique approach to the superhero team-up film. Previous comic book team-up films, notably 2012’s The Avengers and 2017’s Justice League, usually focus on the team itself. Speaking with at the film’s premiere, Yan says that rather than focus on the team, Birds of Prey focuses on the individual characters. Yan says that while The Avengers and Justice League proved to be great references for her, she wanted a less unified take on the superhero team-up genre for her film.

Continuing, Yan says that when the film starts, the characters very much have their own goals and agendas and it is only at the end that the characters join together. When the group does come together, Yan says that this is not out of a desire for the common good, but out of convenience. Yan feels that this approach will help the audience get to know each character better. The director also says that the collision of each character’s motivations and arcs helped the cast and crew develop a fun movie.

Yan also took time to call special attention to Roman Sionis/Black Mask actor Ewan McGregor. In the world of DC Comics, Black Mask is a maniacal gangster. While parts of this characterization were written into the film’s script, Yan says that McGregor’s style of acting made the villain all the more alluring. The director tells of how McGregor brought a natural charisma to the role, so much so that even when Black Mask does something incredibly horrible, you still want to laugh.

In a separate interview, McGregor himself says that part of Black Mask’s motivation is remaining in control of every situation. When Harley Quinn enters his world, he finds that he cannot control her, a revelation that drives him mad. Assessing the villain’s misogyny, McGregor adds that Black Mask only ever tolerated Quinn because of her relationship with the Joker. After breaking up with the Clown Prince of Crime, Quinn no longer needs a man to be powerful, something that Sionis, as a misogynist, cannot grasp.

Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) will be released on February 7.