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Harley Quinn is best known to the world for her antics opposite her beloved, psychotic significant other, The Joker, but that description ignores a big part of who she is. Before being driven mad and falling in love, Harley Quinn was Dr. Harleen Quinzel, a psychiatrist who worked closely with the Joker during a stay at Arkham Asylum. Fortunately, this isn’t a part of the character that’s forgotten in Suicide Squad, and is instead put to great use – as the beloved anti-hero is regularly able to use her knowledge of the mind to screw with her teammates in the titular group.
On Tuesday afternoon, I had the pleasure of having a quick chat with Margot Robbie on a press line before the Warner Bros. presentation at CinemaCon – the annual convention held in Las Vegas for theater owners – and it was while chatting about her way into Harley Quinn’s mad mind that she revealed the character’s psychological advantages. Her preparation for the part included taking visual cues from director David Ayer, researching what fans really love about the character, and physically training for all of the action, but the most intriguing part of her process included acquiring the proper knowledge to vex and get under the skin of her teammates. Said the Australian actress,
I did a lot of research into mental illness and things like that, since that would be her area of expertise! It’s an arsenal she draws upon to mess with all the characters within the movie, so that side of things was really interesting.
Harley Quinn was first introduced into the DC world and the pop culture sphere in the early 1990s, when she became a popular figure on the great Batman: The Animated Series, but it wasn't until the 1994 graphic novel Mad Love that the character's origins were established, and it was put into canon that she was a psychiatrist who winds up falling for The Joker. She helps the villain escape Arkham Asylum multiple times, but is eventually driven over the edge when The Joker is returned to the hospital after a rough encounter with Batman – donning the famous jester costume she was originally known for. It’s unclear if this exact origin will be featured in Suicide Squad, as it looks like it will be taking some inspiration from the New 52 origin of the character, which saw The Joker kick her into a vat of acid similar to the one that transformed him into a bleached-skin killer.
Trailers and footage have only given us a brief look at the way that Harley Quinn will act around her Suicide Squad teammates, but she is definitely throwing off a very smart-ass vibe, suggesting it won’t be too hard for her to get under the skin of Deadshot, Killer Croc, Katana and the rest of the team. We won’t know the full extent of it until the movie comes out in theaters, but we are surely anticipating its arrival on August 5th.