Harley Quinn’s backstory and her relationship with the Joker has always fascinated me. When I first read about how the latter manipulated his psychologist Harleen Quinzel (Harley’s previous identity) to join him in his criminal spree, that’s how I knew the level of evil that Joker is capable of.
Many would #ship them, saying their tandem is despicable yet adorable. Harley is seen as the doting “girlfriend,” but Joker is the guy who tells her what to do and be “loving” to her when she does the job right. Otherwise, he would hit her if she failed. Take note that this abuse would be evident even in the cartoons.
When Suicide Squad premiered, the shipping seemed to intensify because of how Joker (played by Jared Leto) seemed to have genuine feelings for Harley (played by Margot Robbie). After all, he seemed to be determined t0 rescue his partner from jail so they could have their happy ending. But as an audience, we’d see how she was being used to accomplish the Joker’s MOs.
But fans of Harley are hopeful that she finally found an out from this toxic relationship with the release of the Birds of Prey teaser. One pointed out that Harley’s happy, carefree demeanor and look is due to the breakup.
They’re not wrong. The film’s official title is Birds of Prey (and the Fantabolous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) and the synopsis on IMDB mentions the breakup. This is most likely the jumping point for Harley to form an all-female group to fight a crime boss.
In an interview with Collider, Margot said that she wanted a spin-off movie for her character that has a girl-gang theme because she “wasn’t seeing enough girl gangs.” It was important for her to highlight the strengths of women—from the female characters to finding a female director (Cathy Yan) to head production.
There’s now this expectation for Birds of Prey to be more than a fan service film for comic aficionados who have huge crushes on the heroines. If there’s one thing the audience wants for this film, it’s for it to do better than Suicide Squad. (I’m personally still disappointed by it. Ugh.)
But the fact that they’ve removed the Joker-Harley love story out of the picture is a step further. Birds of Prey can be viewed as a redemption arc for Harley. Sure, it’s hard to see her other than a villain. But in hindsight, she turned into one because the Joker tricked her into it to the point of brainwashing. There’s really no point in continuing this storyline, especially with the current #TimesUp landscape, since other media have expanded on their dysfunctional love story—way too much, even.
So if you’re looking for another movie where Harley and Joker are frolicking together, this isn’t going to be it.
Art by Marian Hukom
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