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‘Birds of Prey’ could lead to the proper characterization of Harley Quinn that fans deserve

‘Birds of Prey’ could lead to the proper characterization of Harley Quinn that fans deserve

‘Birds of Prey’ could lead to the proper characterization of Harley Quinn that fans deserve
October 01
19:00 2019

In 2016, “Suicide Squad” exploded into theaters with the candy colored, neon-tinted Hot Topic vibes that the trailer and promotional material promised. Unfortunately, the film was panned by critics and was hailed as an epic disaster despite all of those promising trailers.

However, what the film did deliver on was the fantastic portrayal of Harley Quinn by the ever-talented Margot Robbie.

Despite the excellent portrayal of the character, the film skewered her origin story by changing it for the worse. In the film, Dr. Harleen Quinzel is present in a few scenes as the psychiatrist that treated the Joker before her own descent into madness and obsession that created the persona of Harley Quinn.

Thankfully, this is accurate as can be, but what follows is what fails the character in a very big, very unfortunate way.

In the film, Harleen Quinzel voluntary jumps into a vat of acid that turns her into Harley Quinn on her own accord simply because her love and obsession for the Joker trounced her own vision of self-worth simply because the Joker asked her if she “would die for him.”

However, in the New 52 “Suicide Squad” run, specifically issues six and seven, Dr. Harleen Quinzel is pushed into the vat of acid by the Joker, turning her into Harley Quinn involuntarily, quite literally stripping her of her own consent and voluntary action to become something she never really asked for.

In the continuing run of the New 52 Suicide Squad run, Harley Quinn dedicates her life to protecting and loving the Joker no matter what, even up to betraying the Suicide Squad when she learns of the Joker’s death so she can retrieve the skinned face of her now dead lover. She then captures fellow Squad-member Deadshot and puts the skinned face of the Joker on him so she can “carry on a conversation’ with him.

In the “Suicide Squad” film, Harley Quinn is extremely dedicated to the Joker and she too betrays the Squad in the film when the Joker comes to rescue her from them. While this may be accurate to her New 52 characterization, her botched origin story in the film still sets off red alarms for me as an inaccurate portrayal of the character even if her motivations following are reminiscent of her character in the comic run.

Her eventual realization of the abuse she endured by her lover feels less tragic simply because in the film she chose to jump in the acid, while in the comic run, this same realization hits harder because she now finally realizes her transformation into Harley Quinn is something she never wanted in the first place.

Thankfully, her solo comic book series in 2013 completely shed her obsession with the Joker and presents a more mature Harley who is now living with the trauma the Joker caused her by her own self-realization that his pushing of her into the vat of acid is something that she did not want.

She then begins a healthy, platonic relationship with Poison Ivy that helps her flourish into the woman she was always supposed to be only now as Harley Quinn, but still keeping in retention of her spirit as the successful psychiatrist she was beforehand.

Now, with the release of the new trailer for the 2020 film, “Birds of Prey”, it looks to be that Harley Quinn is shedding her dependency on the Joker and coming in to her own by surrounding herself with fellow female “anti-heroes”. She also quite literally erases the marks left by the Joker on her body by changing the tattoos that were either made by the Joker, and quite literally crossing out the tattoos on her body that could remind her of him.

Along with these revisions to her tattoos, she also seems to be sporting a tattoo that reads “p + h” which could surely signify the arrival of Pamela Isley, better known as Posion Ivy, which is surely telling that her relationship with the Joker is over and done with especially considering the long running romantic relationship she holds with Ivy.

This is certainly telling of the iteration we are most likely going to get with this Harley Quinn compared to the one we got in 2016 with “Suicide Squad.” It is also quite interesting that the male director of “Suicide Squad” opted to portray Harley in this light while the female director of “Birds of Prey” opted to showcase Harley in the self-realized, empowered state where she now knows that the Joker manipulated her and wronged her.

If the trailer and these images are any indication, this iteration of Harley Quinn looks to be embracing the personality and feel of the Harley Quinn we got in her 2013 solo comic book run and this is far from a bad thing.

Obviously the movie is not out yet, so this is pure speculation at this point, but if this is the Harley Quinn we are getting in the film, then this is the proper characterization of her that fans, like myself, deserve to see of her.

Fans have long understood that the Joker is nothing more than an abusive monster to her and now after she realized this in her solo comic book run, it will be nice to see this come to life in a live-action film.

I mean, the subtitle of the “Birds of Prey” film is aptly titled “…and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn,” so it sure seems to me that the Harley we will be getting in this big screen treatment will be the proper characterization of her that is not only more accurate, but puts proper importance in showcasing her as the character that can overcome her own trauma and as the survivor of abuse that she so rightly is.

Featured Image: Courtesy Facebook

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Spencer Kain

Spencer Kain

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