[Update: Margot Robbie has officially been cast as Harley Quinn in Suicide Squad]
It became clear that some surprises would be in store once WB and DC Comics got their shared movie universe moving when Suicide Squad was revealed to be the first film to follow Batman V Superman. And before enough time has passed to process reports that Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club) may be playing the new Joker, another beloved Batman figure has apparently been cast.
The first names rumored for the cast proved that WB really was aiming to sign established stars for the David Ayer-directed film, with Australian actress Margot Robbie (The Wolf of Wall Street) among them. Now Collider reports that the suspicions (and hopes) of many fans has proven true, with sources confirming Robbie will play the part of Harley Quinn, the lover/ally of the Joker.
There's still no word on whether Leto is any closer to joining the cast of Suicide Squad (or the future Batman films he would presumably appear in afterwards), or if Will Smith - Robbie's co-star in the upcoming Focus - has ended talks along with Ryan Gosling. Official word on Robbie's casting or character may not come for some time, but for now, it seems WB and DC are wasting no time in getting their most popular - and compelling - characters on the big screen.
This news will likely be a comfort to fans, since Robbie made a lasting impression in her breakout role in Martin Scorsese's The Wolf of Wall Street, conveying both sex appeal and a force to be reckoned with - strong attributes for any version of Harley Quinn. If the report is true, and Harley Quinn really is playing a substantial role in Suicide Squad, fans may have David Ayer to thank personally.
Although we had suspected that any incarnation of the Squad would be likely to include the 'Maiden of Mischief' (given the publisher's recent promotion of her solo and tie-in projects) the first rumored roster turned instead to some lesser-known characters. That was before Ayer - who both wrote and directed Fury - was attached, with the prevailing wisdom stating that he was bound to make changes to the existing script.
Now it seems the studio is making the most of his involvement, apparently handing him the task of introducing a new Joker after Heath Ledger's Oscar-winning portrayal, and adding the Clown Prince of Crime's iconic sidekick to the cinematic universe as well. This news raises questions about newcomer Cara Delevingne's involvement (rumored for both a villain role and potential Harley), but what's certain is that Harley Quinn's arrival on the big screen is long overdue.
It's impossible to say exactly what audiences should expect from Robbie's potential take on the character, since most of her characterizations tend to be somewhat... 'heightened.' Her origin story - a former Arkham psychiatrist who found a soul mate in the psychotic Joker - is a fitting one for film, but with a mental state and 'powers' that are notoriously difficult to nail down, we would hope Ayer has a specific angle in mind; and the Joker may play a prominent role in establishing just that.
The exact plot, structure, or potential villain of the film remains a mystery (and Ayer's apparent changes only add to the veil of secrecy), but even if the mischievous duo isn't necessarily a package deal, it makes sense to see both roles rumored so close together. Perhaps the film's plot will stick even closer than we'd thought to that of the animated Batman: Assault on Arkham, a misleading title for what's clearly a proof-of-concept feature for the team. If that's the case, then relegating the Joker to a cameo might seem foolish. But with Jesse Eisenberg's Lex Luthor rumored to appear, it's obvious the studio has a larger plan at work.
What do you think of this news? Are you thrilled that Harley Quinn will be played by an actress whose star is swiftly rising, or do you have doubts about the character's involvement in what was once deemed a somewhat separate franchise? Sound off in the comments.
Suicide Squad will be in theaters on August 5, 2016.
Follow me on Twitter @andrew_dyce for Suicide Squad updates, as well as TV, movie and gaming news.