In a year that's positively bursting with superhero movies - Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, Captain America: Civil War, X-Men: Apocalypse, the list goes on - there's one unlikely candidate receiving a surprising amount of attention: Suicide Squad. To begin with, the film isn't even necessarily a superhero movie, boasting a cast of characters better known as supervillians and anti-heroes. It also doesn't appear as responsible for furthering the DCEU like Batman V Superman is, or establishing future conflict in the MCU like Civil War is going to. To succeed, all Suicide Squad need do is be a fun, entertaining, and insane romp starring the Worst. Heroes. Ever.
Except there's a pretty significant linchpin to Suicide Squad's success and her name is Harley Quinn. When the first footage from Suicide Squad was shown at San Diego Comic Con, she and the Joker garnered the biggest reactions from the hall. A full year ahead of the film's release, Margot Robbie's Harley Quinn costume was already an enormously popular cosplay. Of all the characters that comprise Task Force X, only Harley has inspired a litany of think-pieces and editorials (like this one).
Harley Quinn is a character poised to explode. Among the comic book community she is already immensely popular, proving to be a powerhouse for publication, starring in three ongoing series as well as several one-shots and mini-series. Harley is a major force of merchandising for DC Comics, too, with every Hot Topic across the country plastered with her red and black diamonds. She's played a prominent role in DC's animated series and films, debuting first in Batman: The Animated Series and recently starring in Batman: Assault on Arkham (something of an animated precursor to Suicide Squad). Plus, she has been a main character in each installment of the Batman: Arkham and LEGO: Batman video games - not to mention Injustice: Gods Among Us, where she appears in both the game and popular tie-in comic.
Yet, for all that exposure, Harley Quinn has a relatively low profile when compared to Batman, The Joker, or Catwoman. For general audiences whose only knowledge of capes and cowls comes from the cineplex, Harley Quinn is as recognizable as Slipknot or Diablo. Suicide Squad will be Harley Quinn's mainstream debut and is likely to define her character from here on out.
That fans are frothing at the mouth for Harley Quinn to appear in a major motion picture, even though she remains virtually unknown to most movie-goers, isn't lost on Warner Bros. or DC. There's been an obvious effort on their part to put Harley front and center in Suicide Squad's marketing - more so than any other character.
Though we've only seen a mere fraction of the film in the Comic-Con reel and first trailer, Harley appears to be the only character whose whole origin is depicted on screen and the one with the most potential for a full arc. Whether Suicide Squad will give Harley the shot at redemption she often receives in both the cartoons and comics remains to be seen, but there's no denying how large her role in the film is going to be.
Suicide Squad may be first and foremost a movie about a team of villains, but it's serving as the DCEU's origin for Harley Quinn, a character who has the potential to be integral to the DCEU moving forward - probably far more so than Deadshot, Katana, Killer Croc or anyone else in Suicide Squad outside of The Joker and Amanda Waller.
So if Harley Quinn is such a large part of Suicide Squad, and its success potentially hinges on their interpretation of her character, how are they doing?