While the future of the Suicide Squad might seem bright from a commercial aspect (breaking box office records and outperforming even critically-acclaimed superhero films), the critics have given the studio pause. Where some aspects of the film passed with (mostly) flying colors, others were led to the slaughter. But according to one comic book superfans, the actual quality of the movie is merely a footnote to the arrival of one of DC's most beloved characters: Harley Quinn.
The critical uproar over the film managed to overshadow the fact that, at one time, audiences either suspected or were outright convinced that a character as strange, unhinged, and adored as the Joker's Girlfriend could be done justice in live-action, let alone with Margot Robbie in the role. But having done just that, comic book writer/director Kevin Smith says that the age of Harley is just beginning - and she's bigger than any one film.
We got the chance to speak with Smith at the premiere of Suicide Squad - a film he praised as doing the DC Comics characters and team proud - who is quite possibly the greatest living fan of the femme fatale, having named his own daughter after the red-and-black dynamo. In fact, getting the chance to see the character brought to life on the big screen wound up being the perfect birthday present:
"I can’t think of a better way to spend the closing hours of [being 45 years old] than seeing Suicide Squad finally…on a big screen! I brought my kid and she is named after Harley Quinn. So the moment they announced this movie she was in awe!"
Before Smith had even seen Robbie's entire portrayal, the future of the character seemed set in stone for Smith, and he wasn't basing it on the many trailers, TV spots and extended clips in which Harley stole the show. No, for Smith, Harley's venture onto film is just the latest inevitability, since there's no containing Quinn from shifting into - and dominating - new markets and media. What began as a Joker sidekick on Batman: The Animated Series eventually became a starring comic book heroine, reaching unparalleled levels of success when adapted into a sort-of-grounded/live-action-y version for the Batman: Arkham video game series.
So, with three entertainment forms down, it only makes sense that movies should be next:
"For me, it was inevitable. That character is so good. She couldn’t stay in the cartoons, so she wound up in the comic books. She couldn’t stay in the comics so she wound up in the game. She couldn’t stay in the game, now she's going to be here - and once she's on the big screen, forget it.
"Everybody is waking up… this character is about to pop! [In a] very, very huge [way]. [It’s] smart to give her own movie. Absolutely! It seems like, based on all the trailers that I saw, it’s pretty much her movie right here to begin with. I know they're going to make a standalone Harley Quinn film…Now I want to see that movie... makes absolute sense. This character has been beloved over 20 years, and so beloved that she went from the cartoon to the series then to the games... and now here to the point where everybody now knows this character.
To be clear, Smith was commenting on the rumors and reports that Robbie could eventually be leading a DC Films project starring not only Harley, but several other famous female faces in the DC catalogue (Poison Ivy, Catwoman, you take your pick). And while Robbie maintains that she's eager to explore much, much more of Harley's backstory, the word surrounding said spinoff has significantly cooled given the critical reception of the Squad, despite Harley Quinn's role and Robbie's performance.
We, and Smith, will be crossing our fingers that a divisive movie doesn't kill Harley's big screen career before it even gets up to speed.
Suicide Squad is in theaters now, to be followed by Wonder Woman on June 2, 2017; Justice League on November 17, 2017; Aquaman on July 27, 2018; an untitled DC Film on October 5, 2018; Shazam on April 5, 2019; Justice League 2 on June 14, 2019; an untitled DC film on November 1, 2019; Cyborg on April 3, 2020; and Green Lantern Corps on July 24, 2020. The Flash and Batman solo movie are currently without release dates.