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Suicide Squad: The Madness of Harley Quinn

Written by Jillian Diblasio

Harley Quinn has been a fan favorite since her debut in Batman the Animated Series. It’s a wonder it’s taken this long to finally have her appear in a feature film. But she’s finally here and we hope she’s here to stay.

Harley Quinn’s appearance in the DC Universe is a bit unusual. Rather than starting off in the comic books, Harley Quinn first appeared in the episode “Joker’s Favor” in Batman the Animated Series. It’s a small role, with Harley dressed as a security guard, not once putting on the jester costume she would later be famous for. As the show developed, Harley became the Joker’s right hand woman and on again off again lover. Through their common interest of all things insane, the two appeared to be the dream team when it came to fighting Batman.

Harley’s character became so popular she eventually made her way into the comic books. And it was in the comic books that we finally got a glimpse of Harley’s backstory with the release of Mad Love. In it, we learn that Harley Quinn (once called Harleen Quinzel) was once a student interning at Arkham Asylum. Fascinated by the Joker and eager to become a celebrity, Harleen insists on researching the Joker. As the Joker tells her stories of his abusive and alcoholic father, Harleen becomes convinced that the Joker is the victim in this situation and Batman is to blame for all of Joker’s misfortunes. She decides to help Joker’s crusade against Batman and becomes Harley Quinn.

There’s a lot of controversy among fans regarding the release of Mad Love and subsequent retellings of her origin story. Mad Love not only gives us Harley Quinn’s origin story, it also reveals that Harley is trapped in a psychologically abusive relationship with the Joker. No longer were Harley and Mr. J the simple, psychotic partners in crime. Their relationship has evolved into a much darker storyline since the release of Mad Love which was eventually turned into an episode of Batman the Animated Series. 

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Since the time of her first appearance, Harley has grown quite a bit. In the New 52, Harley is forced into the Suicide Squad run by Amanda Walker. It is during this time that she has since given up on her relationship with the Joker and has befriended Poison Ivy. But probably the biggest change that has occurred during the New 52 is Harley Quinn is no longer a villain in the series Harley Quinn. Instead, she has become an anti-hero who has gone back to psychiatric work, is a landlady at Coney Island, and is part of a part time roller derby team. Considering where she started, Harley Quinn has come a long way in terms of character growth.

Considering this will be the first film to feature the character, it’ll be interesting to see where they decide to take her. She’s had so much progress since her debut in Batman the Animated Series there’s no telling which direction they might go in. From the looks of the trailers we’ve seen so far, it seems as though they will follow the New 52 origin story. In this version, Harleen still falls in the love with the Joker just as she does in Mad Love. However, the Joker provides a sort of “rebirth” for Harleen by throwing her in the same acid that awoke his character. This in turn caused her skin to become bleached and her hair to change color.

In terms of her relationship with the Joker, it seems to be anyone’s guess. While it’s unclear what the Joker’s motives are, it seems apparent he is the villain in this story and Harley Quinn will be pinned against him when she’s forced to join the Suicide Squad. Considering her relationship with the main antagonist in the story, we could very well be seeing a movie that has Harley Quinn as one of the main characters, if not, the main character. Either way, her internal struggle regarding her relationship with the Joker and the relationships she will form with the Suicide Squad will hopefully play a key role in the story.

What aspects of Harley Quinn’s character are you looking forward to seeing in Suicide Squad? Share your thoughts int he comments below or on Twitter!

About the author

Jillian Diblasio