Is the DCEU’s Harley Quinn an Antihero or Superhero?

While Harley Quinn is often framed as an antihero in the comics, she most certainly isn’t.  She is as much a superhero as anyone in the DC Universe and, being a survivor of abuse, she is stronger than just about any hero DC has, too.  Since falling in love with her character (thanks Harley Quinn on HBO Max!) I’ve read every Harley comic from 2013 to the present and she’s not done anything remotely antihero-ish in any of them.  Yes, Harley’s wild, a little chaotic, and has an impulse control problem (all of which she admits) but being a free spirit isn’t the same as being morally ambivalent.  Her actions in the comics, again and again, are remarkably heroic.  And I will die on this hill ;D.  Since seeing The Suicide Squad I’ve been wondering if the same holds true in the movies.  In the comics, Harley Quinn is a true superhero and the type of character we should all aspire to be like – as compassionate, loving, and open as she is brave.  But what about the DCEU (DC Extended Universe)?  Is Harley an antihero in the films or, like the comics, is she a superhero lacking the recognition she deserves?

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Reconsidering Harley Quinn: Just Who Is the Clown Princess of Coney Island?

Harley Quinn has had legions of loyal fans for ages.  For a long time, I mainly knew her as the Joker’s girlfriend on Batman: The Animated Series.  I knew DC had brought her into their comics’ continuity.  I knew she and the Joker had broken up (maybe? sort of?).  I knew she’d shifted from villain to antihero to star in her own comic.  I’d heard her referred to as “DC’s Deadpool.”  But what about her brought such adoration among readers?  In a 2016 interview with Vulture, DC Comics’ Publisher and CCO Jim Lee said, “I refer to her as the fourth pillar in our publishing line, behind Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman.”[1]  That’s HUGE.  Lee is equating Harley to DC’s Trinity, their Big Three, the foundation upon which DC is built.  After reading the near 100 comics comprising Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti’s run on Harley Quinn (yes, I got excited and bought them all (no, I have no regrets)) I get it.   

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What I Learned Watching 26 Episodes of Harley Quinn in 8 Days

On a whim, I decided to try watching Harley Quinn on HBO Max.  My only real experience with Harley Quinn up to this point had been Batman: The Animated Series, obviously, and DC’s recent Suicide Squad and Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of one Harley Quinn.  As I watched, I thought it’d be fun to write about the experience as I did last year, when I tried to binge-watch ninety-six episodes of Supergirl in the nineteen days I had left before the new season premiered.  Instead of doing any sort of analysis or deconstruction or anything like that, I just wrote my stream-of-consciousness thoughts as I watched.  Now I’ve discovered the DC Universe’s Harley Quinn show!  And, while I watched at a more leisurely pace (relatively speaking), I decided to write the same sort of piece.  Let’s see where this goes…

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The Joker Examined – Jared Leto and Suicide Squad (2016)

Happy Halloween everyone!!  As the veil between the worlds of the living and the dead weakens (thanks Samhain…), we’ll spend the night with lighted jack-o-lanters to ward off nefarious spirits and decked out in all sorts of ghoulish garb to blend in with the dead who will traverse the land of the living.  Or, you know, we may do all those things in the name of free candy (yay for Reese’s Cups!!!).  Either way, today’s Halloween and that means I’ve only one Joker left to examine in this series.  Yay!  So let’s say hello to Mr. Jared Leto. Continue reading

Suicide Squad and the Nature of Evil

Alright, so after all the wedding excitement this weekend (Congrats again to Jeff and Jen!  It was such a beautiful day!!) Kalie and I finally got to the theatre to see Suicide Squad this afternoon.  In fact, we just left the movies and have settled down in our favorite coffee shop to enjoy a snack and do some writing.  While there’s a surprising amount that can be explored and deconstructed in the film, I’m not quite ready to do that yet having only seen it once.  Rather, I’d like to discuss my thoughts on the film in the same light I explored Batman: Arkham Asylum and shared those articles from Kalie and Jeff last week.  I want to talk about how the film presents the nature of evil in its cast of super villains.  If you haven’t seen it yet, don’t fret.  The post will be free of any real plot spoilers. Continue reading