With the release of the first trailer for the upcoming Harley Quinn animated series, it is clear that DC Comics is officially pushing The Maid of Mischief to be their answer to Deadpool. While the two characters have shared a similar niche in the comic books for several years, the comparisons are even more apropos given recent events in the world of television and film.
Both Harley Quinn and Deadpool started out as straightforward villains in the 1990s before being remolded into anti-heroes. In the case of Wade Wilson, he started life in the comics as a rip-off of DC Comics' Deathstroke, before writer Joe Kelly gave him a wacky personality to distinguish him from Slade Wilson. Similarly, Harley Quinn had been originally been created for Batman: The Animated Series as a one-off character, in the tradition of the various molls the villains of the 1966 Batman series kept for companionship. However, Arleen Sorkin's performance as Harley was engaging enough that writer Paul Dini felt inspired to write more for the character, developing her partnership with Poison Ivy before introducing Harley into the comics in 1999.
The trailer for the new DC Universe animated series was packed full of Deadpool-style meta jokes, with Harley talking directly to the viewer about how funny and action-packed her new cartoon was going to be. She even takes a stab at her Marvelous counterpart, noting that "unlike that Deadpool cartoon, it's actually coming out," in reference to the canceled Deadpool animated series produced by Donald Glover. A morose Poison Ivy asks how the new show can possibly be funny when everything DC Comics makes is supposed to be "super gritty and bleak and depressing" in reference to the DCEU films and the upcoming Mature-rated Titans series. Ivy then goes on to tell the audience that "You're gonna hate it," anticipating the negative reaction most DC Comics properties have inspired online.
The spirit of this trailer is in keeping with the current run Harley Quinn comics. The series depicts a Harley Quinn that is clearly aware that she's in a comic book and she frequently breaks the fourth wall to talk to the readers like a certain 'Merc With The Mouth. The comic also parodies Deadpool through the character of Red Tool - an obsessive Harley Quinn fanboy named Wayne Wilkins, who is a handy-man themed mercenary/vigilante.
The films provide another area of common ground for Harley and Wade, who were both brought to life in live-action by actors who are passionate about their characters and comics. The Deadpool movie was a labor of love for Ryan Reynolds, who was determined to bring the real Wade Wilson to the masses after the disastrous introduction of a character called Deadpool in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Margot Robbie has become similarly committed to bringing Birds Of Prey to life as a live-action feature, where she will again play Harley Quinn.
The characters also share a common link in that they are both one of the few largely liked elements of cinematic universes that haven't always found acceptance among the fans of the original comic books. While many X-Fans have complained about various elements of the X-Men films, Deadpool has been widely proclaimed to be the best part of Fox's X-Men universe now that Hugh Jackman has retired his Wolverine claws. Likewise, while Suicide Squad was widely believed to be a mess, few found fault with Robbie's portrayal of Harley Quinn. Given all that, Harley's status as DC Comics' answer to Deadpool makes a lot of sense, though that's sure to disappoint those three fans hoping for an Ambush Bug revival.