Due to the recent release of the newest (as of this writing) DC Extended Universe Movie, Birds of Prey and the Unnecessarily Long, Overblown Title starting Harley Quinn, I thought I’d throw my two cents in. Not about the movie. Not here anyway. That’s what Cinema Savants is for, give a listen to that for the movie. I’m talking about the character of Harleen Quinzel.
Harley Quin was created, and there’s no getting around this, as eye candy for a predominantly male oriented Batman The Animated Series in the early 90s. The show was aimed at, primarily, late teen males. Hormones anyone? She got mine going. Harley Quinn is some great eye-candy. The Joker needed a regular “hench-person” so she was put into the role.
Later, when she became “popular,” they gave her bigger parts. (No! Not like that!) She became a more developed character. (Again, no! Not like that!) Her relationship with the Joker was portrayed as, gasp, abusive. What!? A psychopathic serial-killing clown can’t have a non-abusive but sexual relationship? No! Say it isn’t… Retract that. Duh. Of course it was a dysfunctional thing.
Even later, she became the feminist icon she is today because she left the abusive relationship with Joker, in the books. She never really left him in the animated series, did she? Always, “Oh, Mistah J and I are broken up. Eeep! There he is! We’re getting back together! Puddin’! Over here!” But in the books, at least, she left. And people were proud. I suppose I was, too. I understand that leaving a relationship that’s abusive isn’t easy. So, good for Harley.
Apart from the eye-candy aspect, which is purely subconscious biology, I can’t really stand the character. There’s nothing to her, really. She was a psychoanalyst, or psychiatrist, or whatever. Lots of women are. Which is good but, well, she fell in love with “Mistah J” and left her job and life and turned herself into a clown with an over-sized mallet. Did she develop super powers? Maybe talking to Hyenas. Not sure if that counts though.
I think the character is, frankly, a bit stale. I don’t see the appeal. As I mentioned, she looks great, but, as Ron White says, “you can’t fix stupid.” While Harley isn’t, technically, stupid, she sure acts it. I don’t think it’s crazy. She’s decided she can be just as good as powered super-villains and can be just as dangerous… except she can’t. She has a mallet and occasionally a hyena.
Now don’t think this is me going after a female character and just saying that she’s not worth watching because she’s a woman. I think she’s not worth watching because there is better eye candy out there… for me anyway. There are much more interesting characters in the DC universe that could use some screen time.
How about Barda? Don’t know her? Think Guardians of the Galaxy’s Gammora, only bigger and more badassed leaving a bigger and more bad assed Thanos in the form of DC’s Darkseid. If the fairly corny version of the Guardians made that much money for Marvel, think of what a “New Gods” themed movie like Barda would make for DC. Or how about Lady Shiva? (If you want to stick to Batman specific.) Lady Shiva is the best martial artist in the DC Universe outside of Batman, and I’m including Deathstroke. I’d love to see someone like Kelly Hu take on that role. I think it would be spectacular!
What I’m saying is, that between the new Harley/Birds of Prey movie, which didn’t follow the books at all (shame on you DC) and the forthcoming Suicide Squad 2 and any future appearances in the upcoming Batman movies, I’m burnt out on Harley Quinn. She looks and sounds like Fran Drescher on a bad day. That’s great to look at but it becomes grating after a very brief time. Can we move on now? #BardaFilm