It's impossible to know exactly what it was about Harley Quinn that made her such a hit with Batman fans - her jester costume, heightened Brooklyn accent, tortured link with The Joker, or her tenuous grip on reality - but her current popularity is just as hard to measure. First appearing as a sidekick on Batman: The Animated Series, Harley would go on to become not just a mainstay of the comic book universe, but one of the most recognizable supporting Bat-characters in the modern era.
A live-action version will be added to the list when actress Margot Robbie offers her spin on the character in David Ayer's Suicide Squad, but fans won't have to wait that long for their next dose. As always, Harley will be stirring things up - and playable - in Batman: Arkham Knight, with the latest gameplay trailer showing Harley is much, much more than just a pretty face and a memorable catchphrase.
The trailer is far more substantial than the recent tease of a playable Red Hood in Arkham Knight, but the exact plot details of Harley's pre-order bonus story mission (and if it will be drawing inspiration from the comics, or filling in gaps in Arkham Knight's campaign) aren't offered. Whatever the case, it's obvious Harley will be putting her notable acrobatics and signature bat to good use. We would expect nothing less.
Although there is no official link between the Arkham series and any live-action Batman film, the game series from Rocksteady Studios played a fundamental role in re-imagining large portions of the Batman mythology for a modern audience. As Christopher Nolan scrapped comic fantasy to make the Dark Knight speak to modern tastes, Rocksteady did the same - but embracing the less believable villains and settings in a new, more 'mature' style.
Such was the case with Harley Quinn, with Batman: Arkham Asylum and Arkham City keeping her existing personality and sense of humor intact, but infusing her design with a bit more sex appeal. Gone was the full-body jester suit, replaced with leather, a corset, heels, and hair dye - a look that many vocal fans had hoped to see adopted for Margot Robbie's live-action version. Instead, Suicide Squad will see a Harley modeled after the version seen in DC's New 52 universe - itself designed with the success and positive response to Arkham's update in mind.
It's hard to believe that Rocksteady, or the Arkham series will cease to be a touchstone for what a modern Batman story should look like, but the developers maintain Arkham Knight is the conclusion they've been building toward. If that is, indeed, the case, then it's only fitting that the character who most benefitted from their series should get even more time in the spotlight.
Batman: Arkham Knight is the final installment in the Batman “Arkham” video game series, which began with Batman: Arkham Asylum, Batman: Arkham City, and a prequel title, Batman: Arkham Origins. The series will bring its trademark style to the Batmobile for the first time ever, giving players the option to either grapple above the streets of Gotham or tear through them in the armored behemoth (but let’s be honest, they’ll go with the latter). The Scarecrow, who hasn’t been seen since Arkham Asylum, will ascend as the game’s primary villain, along with the mysterious new Arkham Knight character. Kevin Conroy will once again bring The Dark Knight to life as the voice of Batman.
Batman: Arkham Knight is slated for release on June 23rd, 2015 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. Pre-ordering the game grants access to Story Packs for both Harley Quinn and Red Hood.