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Suicide Squad has been out for nearly three years now, and there were a a lot of colorful characters we followed along with during that tale. One of those was Harley Quinn, played by Margot Robbie. Other than The Joker and Batman, Harley was arguably the most recognizable DC character who was featured in the movie.
Now over the two and a half decade mark, the character has enjoyed immense popularity over her lifetime, appearing in numerous TV shows, video games and on apparel. Corrupted by The Joker (played in the movie by Jared Leto), she’s more jovial and quippy than most supervillains, but this lighthearted demeanor doesn’t mask how insane and dangerous she truly is. Just as the first two Suicide Squad trailers indicated, she was quite the scene stealer.
With Suicide Squad being a tremendous commercial success for Warner Bros and DC, and Margot Robbie's Harley Quinn having a bright future ahead of her, we’ve gone ahead and provided you with all the important details about Harley Quinn. From how she got her criminal start to what she’s up to now in the comics, this is everything you need to know in case you’re in need of a Harley brush-up… though if she starts talking about the voices in her head, run!
She Didn’t Debut In The Comics
As you would expect, most of DC Comics’ characters are created for the printed page, but Harley is one of the few that got her start in another form. Her first appearance was in the beloved 1990s show Batman: The Animated Series, where she was voiced by Arleen Sorkin. Producer Paul Dini was inspired to create Harley after seeing Sorkin dressed like a jester on the soap opera Days of Our Lives.
Originally, Harley was just supposed to have a "walk on" role in "Joker’s Favor," but she was included in more episodes, and, well, the rest is history. It’s true that other comic book characters have been introduced on TV first, but Harley is one of the few that’s truly been propelled to popularity, to the point that even a lot of non-comic book fans have heard of her. It wasn’t until the 1999 storyline "No Man’s Land" that she made her first appearance in the main DC Comics continuity.
She Was Originally A Psychiatrist
Harleen Quinzel’s dream job as a child wasn’t to become a red-and-white garbed criminal clown. No, before she became a member of Batman’s rogues gallery, Harleen was a psychiatrist at Arkham Asylum. When she discovered The Joker, she immediately grew obsessed with him and immediately began conducting sessions to analyze him. Seeing how enamored she was, Joker began sweet talking her and lying about his past so she would sympathize with him.
Eventually Harleen fell in love with Joker, donned a jester costume and broke him out of custody, happy to now be sharing a crime-filled life with her "Mistah J" (though she would soon be treated like an abused spouse). The New 52 also added him throwing her into the same vat of chemicals that altered his appearance, which was also shown in the movie, except Margot Robbie's version fell in willingly and Joker dove in after her. The comics later expanded on Harley’s background and showed that she had issues before she met The Joker, but the Clown Prince of Crime's manipulation was the the straw that broke the camel’s back
She Has Unique Talents
If Harley was merely a regular woman who dressed like a clown, she wouldn’t be that useful out in the field. Fortunately, she has a particular skill set for taking on opponents. While she doesn’t have any natural superpowers, she is a talented gymnast, so whenever she’s delivering a beatdown, it’s usually while jumping or doing backflips. Then there’s her arsenal. Although she’ll occasionally use standard firearms (there’s a brief shot of her using dual pistols in one of the Suicide Squad trailers), she prefers wielding more absurd-looking weapons, including her oversized mallet, a comically large pistol that shoots a cork, and that graffitied baseball bat she’s using in Suicide Squad.
Finally, in the DC Animated Universe and the comics, Harley was given a potion by her best friend Poison Ivy that not only made her immune to all toxins, but also boosted her strength, speed, and agility. It doesn’t look like Harley will have any special abilities in Suicide Squad (we don’t even know if Poison Ivy will show up in the DCEU), but she’ll still be a force to be reckoned with.
She’s Appeared In Live Action Before
The majority of Harley Quinn’s appearances have been in animated form, be it another cartoon like The Batman or a video game like the Batman: Arkham series. While Suicide Squad will be her first cinematic role, it’s not the first time she’s been seen in live action. The first was in the short-lived TV series Birds of Prey, played by Mia Sara. In the show she served as the mastermind antagonist, and while she didn’t wear her jester costume, her outfits did have the same red, white, and black color schemes.
Harley Quinn also cameoed in the Arrow Season 2 episode "Suicide Squad" as one of A.R.G.U.S.’s many prisoners. We never saw her face, but her current voice actress, Tara Strong, provided her dialogue. Harley was also considered to be one of the antagonists in the abandoned Batman & Robin follow-up Batman: Unchained, where she would have been Joker’s daughter seeking revenge. There was also a character named Ecco on Fox's Gotham who assisted Jeremiah Valeska, that show's version of The Joker, and she was clearly to be a variation on Harley.
She Hasn’t Been A Suicide Squad Member As Long As Others
For most of her existence, Harley has either been The Joker’s main squeeze or been adventuring on her own. It was only when the New 52 kicked off in 2011 that she was added to the Suicide Squad. After being imprisoned in Belle Reve Prison, she was forced onto the Squad by Amanda Waller rather than joining willingly. Most of her teammates underestimated her on the first mission due to her ditzy personality, but she soon proved to them how dangerous she was.
When The Joker returned, she betrayed the team in an effort to find him, but when that didn’t go as planned, she rejoined. Despite only be affiliated with the Squad for a few years, she’s remained a consistent member, ranking next to Deadshot and Captain Boomerang, and still serves on the team to this day. Since much of the DCEU is inspired by the New 52, it’s no wonder the first movie decided to include her.
She’s Not Always A Bad Guy
Harley may have started out as a straightforward (albeit tragic) villain when she was introduced, but nowadays it wouldn’t be right to label her as a standard criminal. Anti-hero might be more appropriate in certain cases. In the solo co-written by Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti, Harley tried to get a fresh start on life and has moved away from being closely connected with Batman and The Joker. Now she’s actively trying to help people, though this usually has disastrous results.
In many ways, she’s like Deadpool over at Marvel. They may try to do good, but often times it results in more chaos. The Injustice: Gods Among Us comic book prequel also showed that universe’s Harley working with Green Arrow and Black Canary, becoming a hero during Superman’s reign of terror. Given what's coming up with her in the DCEU, Margot Robbie's Harley Quinn looks like she'll be embarking down a similar anti-heroic path, but it's highly unlikely she'll make the transition to full-blown hero.
And there we have it: those are the main things you need to know about Harley Quinn. As mentioned earlier, Margot Robbie's version of the character isn't going anywhere. She returns on February 7, 2020 for Birds of Prey, where, after breaking up with The Joker, she'll team up with Huntress, Black Canary and Detective Renee Montoya to protect a young Cassandra Cain from Roman Sionis, a.k.a. Black Mask. Harley is also expected to return for The Suicide Squad, which comes out on August 5, 2021.
It's also worth mentioning that an adult-oriented Harley Quinn animated series is debuting on the DC Universe streaming service at the end of the year, with the character being voiced by The Big Bang Theory's Kaley Cuoco. That show won't focus on her being part of the Suicide Squad, but will instead chronicle her adventures after breaking up with The Joker, which includes her trying to join the Legion of Doom. Stay tuned to CinemaBlend for any other Harley-related updates.