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Harley Quinn's Costume Changes and Why They Need To Stop
Harley Quinn is a character from DC Comics. She is one of my favorite, and in my opinion, one of the best villains in Batman (if you can't tell by my user name). She is strong, agile, witty, sexy, insane, and kind of hilarious. She's just a great character.
To give everyone a brief run down of who she is: Harley Quinn is a villain from Batman most commonly associated with The Joker and sometimes teams up with Poison Ivy (there is actually a debate about the “relationship” they have). Harley Quinn made her first appearance in Batman: The Animated Series episode 22, The Joker's Favor. The Batman graphic novel: Mad Love was the first to depict her complete origin. She began as Harleen Quinzel, a psychiatric intern at Arkham Asylum. Harleen was an exceptionally bright student plus she was a dedicated gymnast, which won her a scholarship to Gotham City University. During her study of the lunatics at Arkham, she became obsessed with the Joker. So much so that she begged the doctors at Arkham for 3 months before they would let her to treat him. He told her stories of his terrible childhood and gained her sympathy, followed up by her unending love when he seduced and slept with her. Harleen helped the Joker escape several times and eventually her license was revoked by authorities and she was placed her in her own cell. However, an earthquake hitGotham City and she was able to get out. She then returned as Harley Quinn. Though she's always at his side and would do anything for him, the Joker remains abusive and manipulative. But there are times where the Joker seems to show genuine affection for her, which is nothing he has shown towards anyone else. She's also the only person who has been intimate with the Joker for an extended amount of time (though he does try to kill her sometimes but never succeeds).
The point of Harley Quinn is that it's a pun on the word “Harlequin”. A harlequin is a type of clown, originally from the Italian Commedia Dell'arte and the Halequinade. They are comedy characters, usually servants, who wear diamond-patterned tights that are multiple colors.
Harley Quinn's outfit and personality match that of a regular harlequin. She has had the same outfit since her debut in the Animated Series. Recently though, DC took a new spin on Harley's costumes and basically, I don't like them.
First came Batman: Arkham Asylum in 2009
Harley Quinn wore a mix of a nurse's outfit and multicolored leather. Her hair was not tucked under a jester hat, but instead was just in pigtails. Just look at the photo. Granted, its “sexy” but its not Harley Quinn. It doesn't even resemble a harlequin save it has two different colors. One of the colors being purple, which her outfit is supposed to have black instead. She just looks ridiculous. She looks like a crazy person, yes, maybe even a hooker, but not a villain. They gave her the paint around the eyes like a mask though, which was a good touch. However, it looks like they tried too hard to make her appeal to a punk and/or goth audience. She even has a choker around her neck and fishnet stockings, why? And let's be honest, her boots look like platform shoes from the 60's. It's not even that they altered her costume, it's that they took it to this weird level that they shouldn't have. I also understand they took over the asylum, so she's dressed as a nurse. Yes, I get the joke. But she isn't in a nurse's outfit. She's in an outfit someone dressed as a nurse for Halloween would wear.
Second came Batman New 52: Suicide Squad in September 2011
This one is tied at number 1 for worst. I don't even know what DC is doing right now. I saw this and a big “WTF” slapped me in the face. Why is she wearing a corset that's about to come undone? Why is she wearing panties and a belt? Why is she wearing thigh-high socks instead of tights? And most important, why is she wearing a cape that's attached to a ruff (the thing that looks like it popped out of a Shakespeare play)? The arm guards are kind of cool, but other than that it's all absurd. Her hair is also a cool concept, I'll give them that, but I do like the hood better. Her make-up also looks like a goth girl got a hold of her eye-liner and put it on for her. Harley's make-up is supposed to resemble a mask, like many harlequins wore. They also made her fully pale, not just in white face paint, she is just fully white as a ghost and it looks awful. It's I will also say I like the giant mallet she has for a weapon. That's funny, that's clown like. She looks like a prostitute you'd find on a street corner, not an insane woman who worships the Joker. There is almost nothing redeemable about this choice in outfit and I'm absolutely against it. Not just because I'm a female, but because I'm a fan.
Third came Batman: Arkham City in October 2011
This outfit I actually like pretty well. Still, her original will always be my favorite. I like the modern touch they're going for, but I don't think they've found it. Her original suit is a body suit and it makes sense because she's a gymnast. She needs to be able to move around easily, even a skirt or pair of panties provide easier ability to do high kicks and back flips than leather pants kept on with a belt (Catwoman's makes more sense because again, body suit). Her boots have a heel, but at least it's not super stiletto style and the outfit is sexy without making her look like a prostitute. Still, I don't think they needed her bra sticking out. We got the point that her vest was red and black, and the tank-top underneath was opposite of the vest, we didn't need the extra bra to be opposite the tank-top but match the vest. It was a bit much. Also I liked her tattoo of the Joker, I thought that was a nice, subtle touch. Her hair style is also tweaked with the red and black colors which I enjoy, though again, hood will always be my favorite. They also did the same thing as Suicide Squad where they didn't make her make-up look like a mask so much as over-done eyeliner, which takes away from the “harlequin” theme.
Finally, there is a new game coming out called Injustice: Gods Among Us to be released in 2013
This is the outfit tied for first in horrible costumes for Harley Quinn. If the picture wasn't labeled “Harley Quinn” I wouldn't have even guessed that's who it was. It looks like they stole Chun Li's outfit from Street Fighter and tried to make it into something Harley would wear. She looks more like a pirate than a harlequin. They did bring back the mask and they did the hair dye thing, which is great, but everything else is just a big “no” for me. Her boots make no sense, and her tights look silly with just her panties being on. It also looks like they attempted to give her a trench coat but then gave up and just put buckles on it. I'm so displeased with the outfit that I hardly even have anything to say. I think the picture says everything. It just doesn't look good. It completely destroys the harlequin concept aside from the color scheme and few designs. The joker card necklace is a nice touch too. Even so, the costume just falls short in every aspect.
Harley Quinn's original outfit will always be the best in my eyes. Maybe I'm bias because its the first costume of hers I saw, but even so. It makes the most sense and in the right comics, it has been made to look sexy. That's not the point of her outfit though. She isn't trying to look sexy, she's trying to match the Joker's theme. That's what she's about. She's a lunatic like the Joker and she makes herself as much like him as possible. I think that lately DC has lost sight of that and have only been focusing on how to make their women sexy, not realistic.