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James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad is promsing plenty of action, violence and humor, but what may be most exciting for fans is the eclectic cast of characters he chose for the movie. The roster will be made up of veterans like Joel Kinnaman’s Rick Flag and Jai Courtney as Captain Boomerang and newbies like Idris Elba’s Bloodsport and Daniella Malchor’s Ratcatcher 2. Of course, a character that falls into the former category is Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn, who has easily emerged as a fan-favorite in the DC Extended Universe. But while the character’s reception has been positive thus far, James Gunn’s take on the madcap character could make DC fans even happier.
When it comes to his productions, James Gunn takes the time to develop his characters, and the same was true for The Suicide Squad. CinemaBlend was among a number of news outlets that were able to chat with Gunn after a screening of the film and, during the discussion, he explained his approach to the titular team, particularly Harley Quinn. And based on his comments, it sounds like he stuck to the source material when developing Margot Robbie’s Quinn for his DCEU installment:
A lot of these characters are pretty much blank slates. Weasel doesn't have a lot of backstory, or 300 issues of comic books to say who he is. … So I'm recreating some of these characters for the movie. But to me, Paul Dini's original take on Harley is fantastic. And she's been an incredibly well-written character in the animated movies and the comics. And so it was about being true to who she innately is as a character. She, to me, belongs on the wall besides Spider-Man and Superman and Wonder Woman and Captain America. She's one of those characters that sings, and has a personality. And so it was about being able to fully translate that to a motion picture. And also see her grow and make what, for her, are healthy choices, which, to a normal person, some of her choices in the movie may seem absolutely insane. But for her, they are growth. (She’s) coming from a very, very, very toxic relationship and wanting to put an end to those things for themselves. So I think that's really what it was, just trying to give her the full life of the chaotic trickster on screen, and letting her be every inch of Harley Quinn that the world deserves.
James Gunn’s method definitely makes sense. It’s true that every character he chose for this incarnation of Task Force X is an established DC Comics character. However, since most of them aren’t well known, there’s certainly plenty of room to switch things up. Still, as the filmmaker mentions, Harley Quinn has a very specific history, like some of the most iconic comic characters do, so fans (like Gunn himself) have certain expectations when it comes to her characterization. And honestly, with such a rich history, why wouldn’t Gunn just want to lean on the source?
Created by Paul Dini and Bruce Timm, Harley Quinn made her debut in 1992’s Batman: The Animated Series as the henchwoman of the Joker. The character became a hit with audiences, and she was eventually integrated into the mainstream DC Universe. In the years since, Quinn has evolved, leaving her tumultuous (and sometimes toxic) partnership with Joker and striking out on her own with teams like the Suicide Squad.
James Gunn’s vast knowledge of Harley Quinn seems to have helped him to forge a firm creative relationship with Margot Robbie. The actress previously stated that she and Gunn agreed that the character is a “catalyst of chaos,” and this could certainly lead to some massive moments for the character. For The Suicide Squad, Gunn also altered her pre-existing relationships with certain characters like Joker and Rick Flag. You can check out Robbie’s previous performances as the character in Suicide Squad and Birds of Prey by streaming them on HBO Max, which you can sign up for using this link.
All in all, James Gunn and Harley Quinn seem to be a match made in comic book heaven. It’ll be fun to see what Task Force X’s resident wild card brings to the mission when we see her on screen again.
The Suicide Squad hits theaters and HBO Max on August 6.