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The Story Behind Why Harley Quinn No Longer Has Her ‘Rotten’ Tattoo In The Suicide Squad

Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn holding guns in The Suicide Squad

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When a comic book property is adapted into a movie or television show, it’s to be expected that creative liberties will be taken with translating said property from the printed page to the screen, including with how characters look. In the case of Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn, among the ways she distinguished herself from her comic book counterpart when she debuted in 2016’s Suicide Squad was boasting a number of tattoos, including the word “Rotten” being inked across her right cheek. However, if you pay attention while watching the now-released The Suicide Squad, you’ll notice “Rotten” is nowhere to be found on Harley’s face.

The tattoo’s absence came from a mutual agreement between Margot Robbie and The Suicide Squad director/writer James Gunn, who revealed the following while answering a fan question on his Instagram Stories:

Margot didn't like it and found out I also didn't like it so we decided just to remove it.

The “Rotten” tattoo being gone is never addressed in The Suicide Squad, but one can infer that between the events of Birds of Prey and the latest DC Extended Universe movie, Harley Quinn decided to get it removed, though whether the person who carried out the procedure did so willingly or under threat of bodily harm is up for debate. And that’s not the only tattoo-related difference with Harley in The Suicide Squad, as the tattoo on her back that once said “Property of Joker” now says “Property of no one.” In that instance, it’s no secret why Harley decided to change up her ink, as she and Gotham City’s Clown Prince of Crime broke up shortly before Birds of Prey.

Harley Quinn was one of four characters from Suicide Squad who returned for The Suicide Squad, the others being Jai Courtney’s Captain Boomerang, Viola Davis’ Amanda Waller and Joel Kinnaman’s Rick Flag. No spoilers here for those who haven’t seen the movie, but it’s abundantly clear that Harley has moved on from her time with The Joker, particularly during one scene. And while Margot Robbie didn’t have as much say over Harley’s depiction in The Suicide Squad compared to in Birds of Prey, which she also produced, the actress recently noted that she was “very confident” that the character would be handled with “respect” in James Gunn’s hands.

Margot Robbie now has three DCEU appearances under her belt as Harley Quinn, the same amount of times we’ve seen Henry Cavill play Superman and Ben Affleck play Batman. Luckily for fans of this version of Harley, Robbie isn’t tired of playing her by any means, so now we just have to wait and see where the character pops up next. Among the things Robbie is interested in exploring with Harley is her romantic relationship with fellow Batman baddie Poison Ivy.

The Suicide Squad is now available to watch either in theaters or on HBO Max; should you choose the latter option, make sure you’re subscribed to the streaming service. Our upcoming DC Comics movies guide is also available to those of you curious what the DCEU’s future looks like.

Adam Holmes

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.