It's difficult to fathom that Harley Quinn has only been around for 26 years. Compared to other comic book characters, that's just a drop in the ocean. Yet, despite her relatively young age, she has become one of the top stars at DC now. In fact, her first venture into the live-action film world in 2016's Suicide Squad proved to be so successful that more movies centered around her have been optioned by Warner Bros.
It's Harley's world, but there are still a few peculiar – and even problematic – things about her. Even Margot Robbie, who portrayed the character in Suicide Squad, is puzzled by some of her behaviors. "I just didn't understand how she could be such a [tough character] and then fall to pieces over some guy. I found that really frustrating," Robbie told The Washington Post. "Fans seem to really love that about her, that she has this complete devotion to a guy that treats her badly." She makes an excellent point, as there are some inconsistencies in Harley's actions over the years. If you ask us, there are more than a few things that fans would rather us forget than associate with its latest pin-up star.
The Batman and Harley Quinn animated film was meant to be a revisit and tribute to the era of Batman: The Animated Series. Unfortunately, it proved to be rather divisive as its uneven tone and adult material fell flat among many older fans.
The biggest talking point of the movie, though, was Nightwing's controversial encounter with Harley. She tied him up on her bed and did presumably bad things to him off screen. When Batman found the two of them, they were both smiling, so it seems like it was all fine in the end. Still, it was disturbing how this scene played out and not many people found the funny side of it.
You know how the Green Lantern's power ring is only supposed to be wielded by people with strong willpower? Well, DC made it fair game in 2016's Harley's Little Black Book #2 by Jimmy Palmiotti, Amanda Conner, and John Timms. In the issue, Harley and Hal Jordan team up; however, he's left incapacitated after they fall from an aircraft and tumble to Earth.
Harley tried to wake him up, but when she realized he was out for the count, she took his ring and gained the powers of the Green Lantern. Like a pro, she utilized her newfound abilities to save both of them and get to safety. Say what now?!
Right now, DC paints Harley as something of an antihero. She isn't your traditional do-gooder and has her share of rough edges and faults, but her intentions are mostly pure. That said, it's a little difficult to forget her past actions, despite her current leaning towards the right side of the law. This is Harley, after all; she's not exactly rational or trustworthy.
We've seen it numerous times before. She plays the good girl then flips on you. It's for this reason alone that the other superheroes struggle to trust her. All it takes is another smile from Mr. J and she'll rush into his arms.
Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo gave us one of the scariest Joker tales in their Batman run. Not only was their version of the Clown Prince the absurd, psychotic prankster, but he also took his New 52 revival rather seriously by getting his face removed by the Dollmaker.
In a weird twist of events, Harley Quinn broke out of jail and headed to Gotham. She found his face and took it with her. What's even more alarming is she placed it on her ex-Suicide Squad teammate Deadshot and spoke to him as if he were the Joker. There was a method to her madness, though, but her actions still sent chills.
If you think about it, the whole reason for Injustice is because of the Joker. He picked a fight with Superman, lost his life in the process, and sent the rest of the world into a scary regime. Seriously, why did he have to take it that far?
Well, the Clown Prince of Crime isn't the only one to blame for the Man of Steel losing his mind, as Harley was his co-conspirator in setting him up to harm Lois Lane. Sure, she's seen the light since then in the series, but if it weren't for these two clowns, we wouldn't have had this problem in the first place.
Harley's love story with the Joker is a cautionary tale. There's nothing healthy about it, nor is it a relationship goal. It's a story about manipulation, violence, and how one person influenced the other to throw everything away for broken promises, lies, and false love.
As Dr. Harleen Quinzel, she had a responsibility to her patients and she took an oath to respect the doctor-patient boundary. Unfortunately, Harley caved to Mr. J's charms and flipped the table on her career. Even more troubling is how she helped him escape from the asylum and allowed for him to continue his crime spree on the outside, with her as his new sidekick.
To be fair, Harley's continuity has changed several times. In some instances, she only uses makeup to get the pasty white skin, while other times she is said to have the same bleached skin as her beau, the Joker. The worrisome thing about the latter is that she did it to herself.
While the Joker tumbled into a vat of acid by accident, Harley chose to do the same out of her own free will. Look, we're hoping this doesn't become one of those weird fashion trends on Instagram, but actively bleaching your skin is never going to be healthy in the long run. Once again, Harley proved she's two sandwiches short of a picnic here.
Most Batman fans fondly remember Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker for its surprising twist at the end. However, this futuristic Caped Crusader tale had more than a few tributes and nods to the past throughout. As expected, you can't have the Joker without Harley – and her presence was felt even if she didn't have a large presence in the film.
There were two twin sisters, Delia and Deirdre Dennis, who joined the Jokerz under the joint alias of Dee Dee. They were proud to be known as "hench-wenches" for the Clown Prince of Crime, and followed in the footsteps of their ol' grandmother, Harley. Well, madness surely does run in that family.
If you think Harley's insanity only started when she met the Joker, several stories have demonstrated that the Clown Princess was already in her psyche long before she met the deranged Ace of Knaves. One of her earliest tales of deviousness was in college and involved her ex-boyfriend Guy Kopski.
Unfortunately for Guy, he got drawn into a conniving plan. After Harley's attempted blackmailing of her supervisor, Dr. Markus, went south and resulted in the educator getting shot, she sought out Guy's help and lied to him about what happened. Without thinking twice, Guy ended another man's life, thinking he was Markus, before turning the gun on himself.
While DC likes to push the Joker-Harley relationship, she has seen other people too. Notably Poison Ivy and Deadshot, and more recently Rick Flag in a recent Suicide Squad comic book run. That said, she also went on a date with Gotham City's most eligible bachelor, Bruce Wayne.
Of course, this romance didn't go anywhere since his heart belongs to Selina Kyle and a life of crime-fighting. There could be a twist in the tale, though, as a forthcoming issue from DC has Harley and Batman teaming up. Will he reveal his true identity to her? If so, anything can happen. It would be quite the shocker, though…
Technically, the two Harleys thing isn't in regular continuity. It was introduced in Sean Gordon Murphy's Batman: White Knight. Over eight issues, we came to find out that the woman whom Joker thought was Harley changed without him even realizing it.
The original Harley, Harleen Quinzel, left the Joker when he captured and knocked the snot out of Jason Todd. Her replacement was another lady named Marian Drews. Drews, though, was violent and didn't appreciate it when the Joker was cured from his insanity and proposed to her. She went on to adopt the Neo Joker persona and tried to get Mr. J to snap back to his regular insane self.
The Joker doesn't appreciate any living creature; however, Harley is the opposite. She seems to be an animal lover, and you'll find that wherever she is, her two faithful hyenas aren't far behind. One time, though, she got to see life from their perspective. Literally.
In a recent comic book crossover featuring Batman and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Harley ended up being turned into a hyena. The Shredder and Ra's al Ghul decided that Gotham would be a better place if everyone was a mutant, so they released the mutagen. Harley was one of the people caught in the crossfire and became the animal she loved best.
The DCEU really threw a spanner into the TV side of things – most notably the Arrowverse. The Suicide Squad was introduced on the show but quickly ushered off screen once the live-action film came to fruition. Interestingly, Harley was also a part of the original plans, and even appeared in an episode of Arrow.
While she was never credited as Harley, the character was portrayed by Cassidy Alexa and voiced by Tara Strong in a cameo. According to Stephen Amell, who portrays Oliver Queen on the series, she was meant to feature in the season two finale titled "Unthinkable," but her role was cut in the end.
Undoubtedly, Harley was one of the breakout stars of 2016's Suicide Squad. Despite the critical panning and lukewarm fan reception, almost everyone warmly embraced Margot Robbie's performance of the character and couldn't wait to see her return. That said, she might be irredeemable in the DCEU.
In one of the exposition sequences of the film, it's revealed that she was an accomplice in putting Robin six feet under. In the comic books, we know it was meant to be Jason Todd in the grave; however, Zack Snyder indicated the original plan was for it to be Dick Grayson. So, who even knows which Robin is which now...
While The New Batman Adventures paled in comparison to Batman: The Animated Series, it did provide us with more Harley stories. In the episode "Holiday Knights", Harley and Poison Ivy snatch Bruce Wayne and use his credit cards for a major shopping spree.
Of course, Bruce was under the influence of one of Ivy's wet ones. When he started to break free from their control, Harley backed him into an 'out of order' open elevator shaft. Presuming he was done for, Ivy and Harley didn't bother to assist or check on the billionaire playboy. Obviously, he survived, put on his cape and cowl, and took down the two sisters of mischief.
There's an inaccurate perception that Margot Robbie is the first-ever live-action Harley. That honor actually belongs to Mia Sara, whom you might know from Ferris Bueller's Day Off and Timecop. She played the Clown Princess in the short-lived Birds of Prey TV series.
The show debuted in 2002 and aired for 13 episodes before receiving the chop. While it debuted with a massive 7.6 million viewers for its premiere episode, the ratings dropped sharply over the subsequent weeks. In many cases, Birds of Prey was a series ahead of its time. It certainly would find success on The CW's Arrowverse if it were to be released today.
No, we're not talking about Joker's Daughter or the daydream sequence from Suicide Squad. In the Injustice continuity, Harley and the Joker actually procreated and had an offspring. Although, we do wonder if their poor daughter had any semblance of a normal life with that DNA and those parents.
According to Harley's recounting of the events, her daughter's name is Lucy and she had her sometime before Superman's regime. Not wanting Mr. J to know he was a father, Harley went into hiding for a year and had the baby without his knowledge. As it turns out, he didn't really care since he failed to realize she was gone for so long.
While Harley is a mainstay in DC right now, she was only meant to cameo in the Batman: The Animated Series episode "Joker's Favor", as confirmed by her co-creator Paul Dini.
"I really didn't have any plan for her other than the henchgirl role who was better at getting laughs out of the other gang members than the Joker was. I gave her the name Harley Quinn because I thought Harley was a fun name for a girl, and a lot of Batman character names have a bit of a pun to them, like E Nygma. So Harleen Quinzel was a natural fit for that," Dini told Digital Spy.
Prior to Batman Begins, Warner Bros. thought about giving Joel Schumacher another go in a film titled Batman Unchained that was meant to feature Harley and the Scarecrow. The person who was earmarked to portrayed the Clown Princess? Courtney Love.
Screenwriter Mark Protosevich confirmed there were discussions and he even met with Love. "I think she had heard about the possibility of Harley Quinn being in the new Batman and was thinking she would be good for it," Protosevich told The Hollywood Reporter. "But we didn't really talk about that. We talked about a lot of other things. It was certainly one of the better lunches I've ever had in my career in show business."
Sometimes, in an attempt to be controversial and edgy, comic book publishers are their own worst enemies. For Harley Quinn #0, DC announced a contest seeking an artist to draw one page of the issue. The winner was Jeremy Roberts.
However, Roberts' panel of a bare Harley in a bathtub surrounded by plugged-in appliances, such as a toaster, ended up being removed after it caused a storm – especially since it was released in a week meant to promote the dangers of self-harm. In all fairness, it was probably in poor taste but DC saw the error of its ways before it was too late and in print.