What DC Got So Right.
Despite my many, many….many issues with DC, I have to say they did a damn good job with Harley Quinn.
I was worried. I put a lot of pressure on their portrayal of probably the only DC character I really like and despite a lot of negative reviews, for me they have successfully procured my ticket purchases for their next DC universe film. Well, maybe not Wonder Woman.
I think straight away the most notable change to Harley Quinn was her reciprocated love and affection from the Joker. Anyone familiar with Harley’s “Mad Love” origin story will be aware of her abusive, tragic and incredibly unbalanced relationship with the Joker. And for anyone who isn’t a comic fan; basically she’s obsessed and he’s, well, horrible. To put it lightly. No matter how crazy Harley acted, we still loved her because she was broken and we knew who broke her.
With the arrival of the DC comic revamp “The New 52”, Harley Quinn got a whole new origin story. I mean the premise is the same; she’s the Joker’s doctor, he gets into her head and she falls for him. But this time the Joker uses the same acid that made him ‘him’ and makes Dr Harleen into ‘Harley Quinn’. He literally pushes her over the edge in madness.
This accounts for her new Joker-esque complexion and colourful hair. Not to mention gives a very good reason to her escalated mental state! But still, even with this new origin story, Harley is a victim. She doesn’t want to be thrown into the acid (unsurprisingly) but the Joker does it anyway. Still we have that abusive hint of “Mad Love”.
Enter ‘Suicide Squad’ Harley Quinn. We only get brief glimpses of her back-story, something I’d love to see in its entirety, but in all of these moments one thing is very clear. She *wants* what the Joker is offering. For me this makes her character that much more appealing and enjoyable to watch. She knows its bad, she knows falling into that acid will change her, but the difference is she just doesn't care. She isn’t being manipulated in such an obvious sense.
This does however come after the, in my opinion, very random and unnecessary electroshock therapy. It was a very obvious device used by the film-makers to explain Dr Harleens quick decent into madness, but one I feel was completely redundant. She is clearly unstable, why else give a patient machine guns, so I saw no use for the Joker to purposefully cause her pain. She was already his. She didn’t need breaking like a wild horse. It may be only a few seconds long but I’d always rather her character get to where she is by her own bad choices then forced there by the person she is devoted to.
That being said, I’m looking forward to seeing more Harley Quinn and the Joker in future films (hopefully their own solo ones), even if my heart will always be with Jack Nicholson and his manic, crazy, purest portrayal.