In 1992, my life changed.
The school day ended in the usual way; getting the bus home, raiding the cupboards for a snack and then sitting down to watch cartoons on TV. However, there was one day that was different, it was different from all the other days. This was the day Batman: The Animated Series “Joker’s Favor” was aired and I met Harley Quinn.
Her introduction was subtle, it wasn’t even an episode dedicated to her and her origins. She simply acted as a loyal sidekick to crash Commissioner Gordan’s party. But that’s all that was required; the animators and story writers loved her and were committed in bringing her back.
And they did; we saw her connect with and befriend Poison Ivy, almost catch Batman (much to Jokers disgust), betray Batman, and also an origin story which shows her throw her morals aside and follow her heart into bed with one of her patients and go on a crime spree that would make Bonnie and Clyde proud.
Her New York accent, crazy devotion and mental instability makes her a fun character to watch and considering she never started out in a comic book, her following has made her one of the best selling female characters in the comic geek world.
But the Harley today is an evolved character. She appeared in 9 episodes in Batman: The Animated Series but was then taken under the batwing into other animated shows. Her look changed a little, we saw hints of the original black and red harlequin-inspired outfit, and the squeaky cute-but-crazy voice was still there. All ok so far. I found as long as Harley stayed in the animated world, I was happy.
Then the gaming world found her and her looked changed a bit:
Can’t say I was entirely happy with the Batman: Arkham Asylum look. She went mental for the Joker, yes. But fashionably mental? No. And I can hear all the guys out there saying “She doesn’t look too bad”. I respond to you with this: you have no idea how hard it is to cosplay Harley when she’s like this!!
The next installment of Harley comes to us via Arkham City:
This one I can handle a bit better. Only a bit better. The diamonds are back which is her signature icon, and the black and red theme continues. A lot more respectful of the original character. I also have to admit, I have a pair of Converse with this version of HQ on them. AND….I’ve seen many people cosplay in this form.
Right, I’m going to skip a few incarnations and get to the point we’ve all been waiting for; Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn.
Umm, I don’t really know what to say. I know you shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover and all the jazz but I think a lot of die-hard Harley Quinn fans like me all said the same thing when we got our first glance; “What the…?!”. There’s obviously a few nods to the original; the diamonds on her legs (although there were only ever 3, not 4), the red-ish and blue-which-should-be-black dipped-dyed hair and a neck choke of her signature phrase “Puddin”. But the overall look just seems a bit too try-hard. I think it’s the pants. The glittery, extremely short pants with the unnecessary belt. Call me jealous if you want but I don’t think the Harley of today would dress like something that’s been hiccuped out of a Camden charity store. The jacket, yes. The hair, at a push, yes. But put some proper shorts on!
Perhaps it’s a nod to the New 52 Harley Quinn (which is awesome by the way….go read it in a sec):
But here we are again, back to a drawn version of Harley.
I think it’s always going to be a challenge to bring to life a character that has only ever been animated for so many years. And to put your mark on it like Heath did with the Joker is damn near impossible. But it was done, and it could very well be done with our Harley. I’m not sure I’m going to run out and buy a ‘Daddies Little Monster’ tshirt though for the next comic con.