I’m saying this in reference to the rumors that she may be appearing on Arrow. Presumably, without the Joker. Now I do love Harley Quinn, and I think she’s a great character, and she should be easy to get right, but it so rarely happens. Now, I recognize that Harley Quinn is currently a huge sensation and everyone is obsessed with her…but I think we all need to understand that she really doesn’t work unless she’s attached to another person.
Harley Quinn NEEDS the Joker. That’s quintessential to her character at the fundamental level. Like Robin to Batman, she is who she is because the Joker manipulated her. She is a victim of the Joker. That’s just what she is. And what makes her so likable, besides her visually perfect costume and her humor, is that she’s sympathetic (to a point). She is HOPELESSLY in love with the Joker. Hopeless being the very very crucial word there. She cannot be saved from her obsession. She’s been “cured” before, but it never sticks, because not only has the Joker warped her too much for her to be a regular citizen again (ie. Harlequinnade), she’s also basically addicted to him. It’s a literal example of an abusive relationship.
Harley Quinn and the Joker aren’t a romance. And Harley Quinn isn’t a strong female role model. Nobody should want to be Harley Quinn, because she’s crazy, and completely obsessed with a psychotic murderer who will never really love her, but will keep her around because he thinks it’s funny. It’s supposed to be messed up. They’re EVIL. And I think portraying her as a sympathetic character, and her dynamic with the Joker, is infinitely more entertaining than making her into a silly, clown themed-femme fatale. It dilutes her character, and also changes it completely.
The only time Harley works when she’s not attached to the Joker, is when she’s attached to Poison Ivy. Her dynamic with Poison Ivy just really clicks, and is always entertaining. But Ivy, (while she does care more about Harley than the Joker does) is usually manipulating or using Harley to some extent. And I think beyond the fact that the Ivy/Harley dynamic is entertaining, sapphic, and exciting, it shows just how truly dependent on other people Harley is. And it’s sad, but that’s why you’ll always root for Harley, despite her actions. You see her as a victim, and you want to help her and hope that she gets better, but the tragedy is that she never will because she’s too far gone (and also she’s a fictional character).
There’s a lot to say about Harley Quinn, especially these days. Between the severity of her sexual objectification, the fact that they turned her into the most heinous villain in the New52 (giving bombs to thousands of children in Gotham), her many appearances in other media, and how she has yet to work well in the comics nearly as well as she did in the animated series, but I just don’t think Harley works as a solo character.
I think Harley can absolutely have her own solo adventures, and is a gripping enough character to be the focal point of a plot. But I think trying to turn her into her own character completely devoid of her dependency on the Joker, is an inherently flawed idea. Robin has solo adventures, Lois has solo adventures, so yes obviously Harley can as well. But just like Robin, Lois, Supergirl, etc. you need Batman and Superman to be elements in their story, character, and origin to keep them who they are. Indirectly or otherwise.
I also wanted to add a comment on Harley’s role as a female villain. I think what I really like about Harley from the animated series is that she isn’t treated like every other female villain. Yes, being in love with a man is at the core of her character, but she isn’t a “sexy femme-fatale.” She tries to be at times, but she’s also silly, goofy, klutzy, and almost naively innocent at times. I think the Gotham City Sirens are pretty well diversified in terms of their characters, but Catwoman, Poison Ivy, and Talia all kind of already have that steamy temptresses thing that most lady villains have. And I like that Harley isn’t really supposed to be like that. There are plenty of strong, smart, independent, and powerful women in comics, and we could always use more, but I think Harley’s place as a tragic villainess that is both crazy and dangerous, yet also sympathetic and klutzy is much more unique and has a lot to do with her initial popularity. Her naivete, and being a victim of the Joker is what makes her seem innocent, which I think confuses people. And that’s fascinating.
you kids these days with your rapidly growing concern for the state of the world and your knowledge of important issues at increasingly younger ages despite having been told your opinions don’t matter by the adults who put you in these situations