The character of Harley Quinn was originally created in 1992 by Paul Dini and Bruce Timm as part of their seminal hit, Batman: The Animated Series. She was introduced as the Joker’s girlfriend, an unhinged persona to match Mr. J’s crazy, a woman madly in love but at the mercy of a devious partner who would rather kick her to the curb than give her a compliment. It’s doubtful that her creators could ever have foreseen the heights the popularity of the character would reach. Fast forward 25 years later and now, Harley Quinn is one of the major faces of the DC Universe, not to mention its cinematic universe.
The character resonated with fans everywhere, and she has gone on to have her very own line of action figures, statues and comic books. Ever since her first appearance, the character had a design that was unique, a look that made her instantly recognizable. Over the years, as the character grew in popularity and appeared everywhere from video games to the silver screen, Harley Quinn has gone through many, many, many wardrobe changes. As DC celebrates 25 years of the character, CBR lists 15 of the best and most iconic looks and costumes Harley Quinn has ever worn.
15. TALL TALES
Batman: The Telltale Series proved incredibly popular with both fans of the character and of this type of video game, featuring a very dramatic and engrossing story that is much different than what Batman fans are usually familiar with. For the second season of the game, Batman: The Enemy Within, it has recently been confirmed that one of the villains that will face Batman will be a new version of Harley Quinn.
While we don’t know the character’s backstory in the game universe yet, we did get a look at her new costume. This new and very modern look for Harley seems to borrow from nearly all of her classic elements mixed in to create something new. You have a bat as her more realistic weapon of choice, the red and black color scheme, but also very different hair, in a more normal, modern haircut than what the she usually sports.
14. DADDY’S LIL MONSTER
David Ayer’s Suicide Squad movie introduced audiences to many DC villains through a gangster-inspired scope, as the director chose to approach his villains in a more grounded, gritty and real way. Although Harley Quinn went through various wardrobe changes in the film, her official movie costume is the one that had the most screen-time.
Borrowing the color scheme from the more recent New 52 look of Harley Quinn, Harley ditched the red and black in favor of blue and red, a red that bordered on pink as the movie went on. Wearing her now trademark “Daddy’s Lil Monster” shirt, Harley had many tattoos that spoke of her obsessions and her state of mind. With pigtails and high heels, this is a look that became one of the most popular for Harley. Don’t believe us? Just go to literally any con.
13. LET’S ROLL(ER)
When it was time for Harley Quinn to get her very own solo series as part of DC’s New 52 relaunch, the creative team of Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti decided to give Harley a whole new look to go along with her whole new direction. Harley wasn’t ditching the crazy, she was just embracing it in a different way, moving on to become more of a sociopathic anti-hero than an all-out villain.
For this series, Harley was given a new roller derby-inspired outfit. Still favoring the red and black, Harley had knee, shoulder and elbow pads, roller skates to have fun on and her signature mallet to deal with anyone who was a nuisance. But she wouldn’t lose who she was: the diamond logo were still a part of her, with the added effigy of a star. It has been more than five years, but this costume has proven to have staying power.
12. HELLO NURSE
The Batman: Arkham Asylum video game came was released in 2009, at a time before Harley’s popularity reached platinum gold, long before Suicide Squad and the DCEU and long before the New 52 relaunch that would help elevate the character to superstardom. While the game featured the Joker as the main antagonist of the story, Harley Quinn also had a large role as the villain’s right-hand woman.
Since the entirety of the dark game was spent inside the Asylum in a single night, Harley had a conveniently creepy costume to match the unsettling and even haunting nature of the game: a classic nurse’s outfit, tailored to fit her mad persona. This look favored a mix of purple and red, but white was the leading color of this costume. To top it all off, she had a black domino mask to go on top of her pale skin.
When Power Girl fell from the sky in Harley’s New 52 series, she had no memory of the superhero she was. As a big fan, Harley saw this as an opportunity to play hero. To try and convince Power Girl that they were friends, Harley had a new suit made for her, as well as Power Girl — matching outfits that would show they were a superhero fighting team.
Only, Power Girl’s costume tore to pieces as soon as she woke up. But Harley kept hers, to keep the superhero dream alive. Teaming up with Power Girl, Harley went on epic adventures wearing her very own superhero costume, a red-and-black one-piece suit that had a diamond-shaped “window” similar to Power Girl’s, and a purple cape on top of that. Because heroes wear capes, obviously.
10. THE BOMBSHELL
The DC Bombshells started out as a line of DC collectible statues that re-imagined DC’s most popular female characters in a style reminiscent of 1940s pinups. The line proved so popular that it sparked a series of variant covers, which in turn led to a full-blown digital comic series that was later published in printed form. Now, you can find Bombshell action figures, Funko Pops, and many more collectibles in their very own style.
The Bombshell look of Harley Quinn was established early on and didn’t change much. While there was still an element of red and black duality, it was much more toned down here, favoring instead to let the character speak for herself. A pilot jacket and goggles called back to the time period, as did her high socks. Finally, the jingle bell earrings and white face paint worked as a reference to the character’s roots and signature.
For fans of video games and DC’s pantheon of characters, Injustice: Gods Among Us was something that couldn’t be missed. The game’s story was set in an alternate reality where Superman turned into a tyrant that ruled over the Earth and where an insurgency of heroes attempted to overthrow him. While the basics of the game were that of one-on-one fighting, the story also proved incredibly popular, spanning its own line of comic books.
In this universe, Harley Quinn had a fairly big role from the get-go, as Joker’s right-hand woman. But things changed when he did the unspeakable. Here, Harley had a more revealing outfit that took a few hints from the court jester hat idea but instead brought it down to the design of her skirt. She had an almost steampunk-influenced look and a red-and-dark-purple motif that was a bit more subtle, but still very much Harley Quinn.
8. HARLEY 66
The 1966 Batman television show starring Adam West in the titular role and Burt Ward as Robin is an absolute classic. The series gave its own goofy and colorful spin on many characters and villains from the Batman comics, but Harley Quinn would be created much, much later. Thankfully, the digital comic series Batman ’66 was able to go back into the world of the Wham!-tastic series and tell new stories.
One of those stories featured the introduction of the Harlequin, a black-and-red clad super-villainess who had started out as Arkham Asylum psychiatrist Dr. Holly Queen. Flying in her very own themed hot-air balloon, Holly arrived on the scene with a look that was a very nice approximation of what she could have looked like back in the 1966 cartoon, a roller-derby influenced look that also took a cue from Harley’s New 52 solo series look.
7. ARKHAM CITY
In a way, Arkham City‘s interpretation of Harley Quinn could be seen as the birth of the modern look that would later be brought onto the Suicide Squad movie. In the sequel to the Arkham Asylum video game, Harley Quinn ditched her sinister nurse’s outfit for a more criminal-friendly look, a look that showed she would not just be a lackey this time around, but a real threat.
Harley was back in tactical pants, with a corset that would be carried over as an echo from her Arkham Asylum look. But now she had tattoos that conveyed her alliance to the Joker, and the colors of red and black on full display, a duality that was brought to every aspect of her outfit, from her boots and gloves to her arm sleeves and hair ties. In this second chapter of the Batman video game franchise, Harley Quinn received a rebirth of sorts.
6. ASSAULT ON ARKHAM
Harley Quinn’s court jester outfit is probably the most recognized out there. But while it works well for an animated series or in a comic book, it wouldn’t be the most practical or believable outfit to wear for a real life of crime. In the animated movie Batman: Assault On Arkham, a movie set in-between the storylines of the Arkham Asylum and Arkham City video games, Harley Quinn had a new costume to address this very situation.
For this movie, Harley Quinn had something that was a far cry from her nurse’s outfit. It was a precursor to the tactical efficiency of her Arkham City look and a great way to tie her back to her original look. Here, we got to see what a grittier, more modern version of Harley’s classic court jester costume could look like, with the appropriate mask and bells to go along with it.
5. PUNK HARLEY
Under the direction of Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti, Harley Quinn has seen her fair share of crazy adventures, from fighting spinach-eating sailors to starting her very own gang of Harleys. In a development that felt very natural for the character in this crazy world she inhabits, she had to go as an undercover agent in the punk rock scene. One of the things that meant was dressing up for the occasion.
Although this is not a look that Harley sported for a long time, it still has all the trademark aspects of the character, with a fun new twist. New Suicide Squad-inspired tattoos were added to a more torn, ripped and dirty outfit. A sleeveless jacket and spiked accoutrements completed the punk look, but the real signature piece was Harley’s mohawk, a departure from her usual dip dye hair.
4. SUPER HERO GIRL
DC Super Hero Girls was a new initiative that would introduce and feature DC’s most prominent female characters like Wonder Woman, Batgirl and Harley Quinn to a younger crowd. It is a line of lighthearted cartoons, books and toys that gives a new spin on all of these characters who, in this universe, are young girls attending school together as friends — a far departure from the more traditional DC Comics fare.
For this new universe, every character was given a completely new design, which includes the inimitable Harley Quinn. Here, the character was given a school blouse that featured her red and black diamonds, with a single portion of her hair highlighted red and blue. This is a much calmer, friendlier version of Harley, while also remaining very much true to who she is, and what she looks like.
3. THE NEW 52
Before Harley Quinn would get her very own solo series amid the line-wide New 52 relaunch of DC Comics, she would be featured as one of the prominent members of Task Force X in the Suicide Squad title. Harley was previously known to comic readers as a red-and-black court jester outfit-wearing villain, but for this relaunch, she was re-introduced with a completely new look.
Not only was this the first time that the character was associated with the Suicide Squad, it was also the first time time she rocked blue. She wasn’t just wearing white makeup – all of her skin was bleached, with black paint around her eyes instead of a mask. To honor her past costume, she still had the jester collar and a new mallet. In many ways, this would serve as the most direct inspiration for the Suicide Squad movie’s Harley Quinn, after some evolution in the comics toward that direction first.
2. ARKHAM KNIGHT
For the fourth and closing chapter of the incredibly popular Arkham video game series, Harley Quinn would once again be a part of the story in yet another new iteration of her costume. While Arkham Asylum featured a nurse skirt-wearing Harley and Arkham Asylum introduced a much more efficient look for the super-villainess, Arkham Knight would mix the two up for a signature piece.
Elements of both costumes were present, from the skirt to the pants, from the corset to the shoulder pads, the sleeves to the color pattern. But there was also enough added in to make the look feel completely new. With her bat in tow, Harley made for a fun playable character in her very own story pack, and her costume became its very own kind of classic.
1. THE CLASSIC
Harley Quinn was first introduced in Batman: The Animated Series in her classic court jester costume, and it’s the look every fan of the character knows to be her one and true outfit. It’s an iconic look that lasted for a very long time in the comic book universe, from when Harley first made the transition from animated screen to comic page to the onset of the New 52 relaunch.
Even after Harley had her new look(s), amid DC’s Rebirth saga, a new back-up feature has been added to Harley’s solo title featuring her back in her classic costume. It’s an outfit that even made a quick appearance in the Suicide Squad movie, in a scene where Harley and Joker are seen dancing together. The character has seen many costume changes over the years, and many more will undoubtedly come, but this is the quinn-tessential look of Harley Quinn.
Which of Harley Quinn’s looks is your favorite? Let us know in the comments!
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