Pop culture, and especially comics, is still dominated by male characters for the most part. But there are so many great female characters who are either fantastic rolemodels or who are just bad-ass bitches we love. Every week we will take a look at one of these characters and share our thoughts on these characters and what makes them cool. This week, we will be discussing the girl who saved Suicide Squad: Harley Quinn.
Now you cannot actually call Harley a role-model. I mean, she belongs to a task force consisting of the baddest baddies on the planet and she has quite an abusive relationship with the Joker. But nonetheless, thanks to her charm and humour, Harley has become a fan favourite since 2016’s Suicide Squad and is a very popular character to cosplay. But what makes Harley such an appealing character? Why is she such a total badass? And why are there a million tutorials on how to get that iconic make up look? Well, keep on reading to find out!
Harley Quinn wasn’t always the henchgirl of the Clown Prince of Crime. She actually started out as Harleen Quinzel, a psychologist who was working at Arkham Asylum and was very interested in the Joker. She volunteered to analyse him and he saw her as an easy prey, telling her exactly what she wanted to hear. Harleen became infatuated with the Joker and helped him escape Arkham Asylum.
The character of Harley Quinn was actually created for Batman: The Animated Series and she was only meant to be in one episode, but because she became so insanely popular, she was featured in more episodes of the show, including spin-offs, movies and comics. As she made the crossover into the mainstream DC Universe, Harley lost some of the characteristics that made her so popular on the show and she was written as a more psychotic dark character. However, that did not hurt her popularity.
Harley & The Joker
It is the Joker who essentially brought her to insanity and who also gave her the unnaturally pale skin colour by throwing her in a vat of chemicals that made him as unnaturally pale. The relationship between the Joker and Harley is one that is marked by abuse. Although the Joker shows affection at times, he often also threatens her life or tries to kill her (at least in the comics). This is in no way a healthy relationship and it is disturbing that a lot of (young?) girls aspire to be in a relationship like Harley and the Joker’s. While in the Suicide Squad film, the Joker’s feelings for Harley were more romanticised than they were in the comics, it is still not a relationship to aspire to. Harley always returns to the Joker, despite what he does to her, and that is sadly something we often see with women who are in abusive relationships. The thing that we do admire about her? She’s still standing and is a survivor and as recent comics material showed, Harley is set to move on from the Joker which will be a huge turning point,
As director David Ayer said:
“[Suicide Squad] is about Harley breaking free of The Joker and becoming this fully actualized, independent person. That really is a metaphor for everyone’s journey here.”
Harley is a girl’s girl which is shown in the comics when she becomes best friends with Poison Ivy and some other female characters such as Catwoman. However, her relationship with Ivy is the most important one. Initially they started out as friends and Ivy was there to give Harley some tough love whenever she was obsessed with the Joker once again. In the more recent comics, we see Harley completely becoming her own person and she gets romantically involved with Poison Ivy. Which is a huge deal, especially considering the things happening in America right now. I personally hope that they do incorporate this relationship into the solo movie, because of its importance of showing that 1. same-sex relationships are totally fine and 2. you can move on from an abusive relationship and not have it define you. So, go Harley!
Why Harley is so appealing
As I have said many times before, Harley saved the Suicide Squad movie, which would have been an absolute bore without her and the Joker. Apart from the fact that Margot Robbie is an excellent choice to play Harley (girl crush alert), there is something about her that girls recognise. No, we’re not all psycho, trust me, but underneath the crazy is a vulnerable young woman who just wants the man she loves to love her back. He might not be the right choice, but this is not a strange feeling to have. Also, the moment when Harley believes the Joker to be dead and she is crying on the roof of a car, she pretends that everything is fine when the rest of the Squad finds her. I can relate to that personally. There have been many occasions when I was incredibly sad but pretended to be strong for the sake of others and I’m sure I’m not the only one.
Apart from that, Harley is an incredibly funny character. She uses her humour in even the most terrible situations. While nobody in the particular situation finds it funny, we as an audience appreciate it. Harley is a character that fully embraces her crazy and despite being a ‘bad guy’, she has this naivety about her that makes her so appealing. Plus, she is the cool girl at your school who wears these crazy clothes and hair and makeup and doesn’t care what anyone thinks about her. She’s the girl all of us want to be friends with, which would especially be convenient if we happened to get involved in a brawl. Girlfriends knows how to swing that bat.
“Love your perfume. What is that, the stench of death?” – Harley Quinn to Katana
All in all, Harley is one of my favourite female characters because of her intricate backstory, her attitude and general awesomeness. Now where did I leave that pink and blue eyeshadow?