The Cult of Harley Quinn
With just under a month until the release of the Suicide Squad movie, and with Margot Robbie looking nailed on to steal every single scene that she’s in, I thought I’d take sometime out from my usual Kung-Fu fighting and Horror Film reviewing to take a look at the phenomenon that is Dr. Harleen Frances Quinzel, M.D.
Back flipping and mallet swinging her way onto our screens in Batman: The Animated Series, her first apperance was in the episode “Joker’s Favor” where she was supposed to be a one and done joke, a walk on that was in fact her popping out of a cake (so a pop on then I guess) where she would take a group of police officers hostage for her beloved Mistah J. In the end The Joker himself did the nefarious deed, trust him to have to have to be centre stage, but thankfully, instead of being cast onto the scrap heap of comic book one-hit wonders, Harley managed to find her own place in the DC Universe and has gone from strength to strength ever since.
Created by Paul Dini and the legendary Bruce Timm, the Harley Quinn of the animated series was just another moment of genius in a program that was completely jammed to the rafters with them. It’s quite easy to forget just how amazing of a show it actually was but, even now, you can stick any episode of it on and it holds up against anything else you care to put next too it.It was brilliantly written and quite happy to take stories straight from the source for adaptation as well as being designed for children of all ages to understand, whether they were 4 or 40. Harley herself was based on Arleen Sorkin who Paul Dini was/is friends with (unless they’ve had some kind of falling out I don’t know about) and who would go onto voice her (along with Tara Strong, Hynden Walch, Grey DeLisle, Meghan Strange and Laura Bailey), giving Harley her unique sound as well as cranking the lunacy and humour up to 11. Some of, it not all of, the best episodes in that series are the ones featuring Quinn, whether that’s her and Lex Luthor’s bodyguard Mercy Graves going toe to toe or just her trying to get The Joker’s attention as she’s in the mood for love (“Don’t you wanna rev up your Harley?”) whenever she was on the screen I was automatically drawn into the story. But it wasn’t until No Mans Land, probably the best Batman story ever written, and her stand-alone issue where she is found, half dead crawling from the wreckage of a destroyed rocket, by Poison Ivy that she started to come into her own. This Quinn was different from the one we were used to. Sure she still had the sense of humor and all the other accoutrements that we had become used to but she was darker, angrier, as I suppose you would be if the object of your desire spent every waking hour trying out new and improved ways to kill you, and more liable to feed you to her pet hyena’s than shock you with a joy buzzer. She still had an achilles heel wherever The Joker was concerned though and it was this, and this alone, that held her back.
When The New 52 rolled around it finally gave us the Harley Quinn we’d always wanted (one of the few things it did give us), she was strong, funny, ever so psychotic and more than capable of standing on her own two feet, she’s battled side by side with Power-Girl, formed her own Gang Of Harleys to tackle crime, dated Bruce Wayne and taken down Russian super-villans along with former secret government agent, now a nursing home patient, Syborg. She did all this and more while running her own apartment building and holding down a job but there was still the question of what if The Joker decided to waltz back into her life. Well in Harley Quinn #25 we found out the answer as Harley breaks into Arkham Asylum to save her current beau Mason (don’t worry folks Mason is a good guy). While busting Mason out she stumbles across The Joker locked in his cell and after he tries to manipulate her into setting him free she enters his cage and they have the throw down that has been on the cards ever since she burst onto the scene and it is glorious. Finally getting the upper hand on the man that has tormented her and ruined her life, and after giving him the smackdown to end all smackdowns, she pulls a gun on a bloodied Joker but instead of giving him what he wants and pulling the trigger, she walks away with her warning “If I ever hear you or see you again, if ya ever mess with my family or friends, I’m not gonna be as nice as I was today, an’ I’ll finish yer alabaster ass for good” left ringing in his ears. It may have been 20 years in the making but it was worth the wait as that pale skinned fuck finally gets what’s coming to him and Harley is liberated from her senseless need to be dependent on a guy who treats her like complete and utter crap at every given opportunity. And it also gives closure to the fact that for two decades Harley Quinn has beenan abusive relationship and that is NOT OK FOR ANYONE TO HAVE TO GO THROUGH EVER.
So we find ourselves now with the perfect anti-hero (sorry Deadpool but you’ll always be my second favorite) who will soon become EVERYONE’S perfect anti-hero when The Suicide Squad finally hits the screens. When I first heard that Margot Robbie had been cast in the role, I’ll admit it, I wasn’t fucking happy. I also wasn’t familiar with her work, knew that she got her kit off in Wolf Of Wall Street but that was about it, and like most keyboard warriors I was quite happy to vent my spleen on various forums and websites that were discussing the atrocity of the century. I have since learnt that I, like every other keyboard warrior, should learn to keep their fucking opinions to themselves so they don’t end up appearing as thick as ten day old elk shit. In just 3 trailers Margot Robbie has managed to breathe life into a character that just shouldn’t transfer from page to screen, not because she’s badly developed (I mean, come on, I’ve just spent the past how many lines singing her praises?) but because my personal interpretation of Harley will always be slightly different to yours as much as yours will always be slightly different to the next Quinn fan. Yet it looks like Margot Robbie has pulled it off. And if she has then maybe this will give DC the jump off point with which to build their universe around, instead of them forcing another Superman movie down our throats.
Interior: Warner Brothers Boardroom
Executive 1: So how we doing?
Executive 2: They’re still not buying into the whole kid from Kansas thing.
Executive 1: What??? Why???
Executive 2: We have no idea sir, we think it’s the general public’s fault but we’re not really sure.
Executive 1: So what do we do?
Executive 2: Well sir I think we both know there’s only one possible solution.
Both Together: MORE SUPERMAN MOVIES!!!!
And wouldn’t that be a nice change? A world where our super-heroes aren’t all super-powered or billionaires but just normal, if somewhat nuts, people. Besides, if Marvel and DC ever get their shit together you could be looking at a Deadpool vs Harley Quinn movie somehwere down the line. And THAT would be worth watching.