3. The Powers
The effectiveness of Harley Quinn in combat is hard to state: Dr. Quinzel may have been a gifted gymnast, but oversized wooden mallets haven't been used on the battlefield in some time. The most recent incarnation of the Suicide Squad swapped out such a mallet for a good old-fashioned sledgehammer (which Harley used to great effect), but despite the team's stated purpose - to carry out black ops likely to get the team killed - it's unlikely that Harley's fighting skills will be her defining quality.
Whether or not the rumored story details for the Suicide Squad movie are accurate, it's Harley's tenuous link to normal human behavior that will most likely be highlighted once joining the DC and Warner Bros. movie universe. That isn't to say she'll be bouncing off the walls like her animated self, but if she truly is unpredictable to the point of harming herself and others, then it's easy to see why Amanda Waller may wish to turn her loose on unsuspecting enemies.
Whatever the justification or weapons Harley is given to make herself useful on the Squad, it's the perspective offered by her mental state - never valuing life, death, or personal injury - that holds the most promise. Besides making her a handful in a fight, that freedom from worry has potential for some much-needed comedic relief.
Where the "Harley Quinn" comic series has embraced insanity and self-aware humor to the point of making the heroine 'DC's Deadpool,' not every incarnation is so over-the-top. Humor was just one way that Harley become a runaway star of the "Injustice" series; poking fun at the no-nonsense characters and elements of the DC universe as a surrogate voice for the audience without addressing them directly. For instance, pointing out the key flaw in Green Arrow's base of operations, the "Arrow Cave":
The many writers and artists handling Harley's newest adventures have resulted in a wide range of sanity levels and personalities attributed to her, so David Ayer has plenty of wiggle room to craft his very own spin. It's easy to describe Harley as simply 'a female Joker,' but if the studio plans to use the two as a package deal down the road, establishing some differences would be wise.
Knowing David Ayer's past work with ground-level crime drama (Training Day, End of Watch, Harsh Times, Fury), a certified Saturday Morning cartoon-level jester on the Squad isn't likely. But one half of a deadly couple who's willing to kill dozens - then drop a witty punchline - may come in handy.
2. The Actress
More than any other member of the film's core cast, Margot Robbie (The Wolf of Wall Street) is the biggest question mark. The role of Harley Quinn has never been entrusted to a single person on such a high-profile stage, and Robbie's slim feature-film experience is hard to overlook. But even if Robbie stepped into the spotlight opposite Leonardo Di Caprio, her follow-up roles opposite Will Smith (Focus), and the indie hit Z For Zachariah (placing her alongside Chris Pine and Chiwetel Ejiofor) show her star is most definitely on the rise.
Robbie has recently stated that playing a character so unique and beloved is admittedly "intimidating," but reminds fans that the film - and her role - is still in its early stages (her next film is the political comedy The Taliban Shuffle).
What we do know is that Robbie has shown the ability to not just hold her own with some of Hollywood's biggest stars, but steal the spotlight from them with frequency. That will be well-served opposite Smith, Viola Davis, Jared Leto, and apparently even more seasoned actors - even if Harley Quinn is an overpowering personality herself.
Suffice to say that plenty of Suicide Squad enthusiasts will be lining up to see what chemistry Robbie has formed with Focus co-star Will Smith, the actor set to play the team's de facto leader Deadshot.
1. What Comes Next?
Given the bond between Harley and the Joker, her role going forward seems obvious; if the plan is to introduce Jared Leto's Joker to appear in a later Batman film, then Harley would presumably follow suit. That being said, Neither Leto nor the Joker are expected to need backup. If the solo Batman movie continues to draw from Frank Miller's "Dark Knight Returns" (a comic not including Harley), she could be given a fate all her own.
With Warner Bros. and DC Comics using Harley Quinn as the face of the Suicide Squad in the series' comic reboot AND the animated Assault on Arkham, it seems a big screen future with the Squad would be likely. The swirling rumors of a sprawling, interconnected movie universe may imply that keeping Harley confined to Suicide Squad and its potential sequel would be a missed opportunity. But if Smith's Deadshot and Robbie's Harley prove a potent mix onscreen, then bringing in new villains to back them up is an easy plan to follow.
And whether in an ensemble film or a solo story, there's plenty of new ground to break with the Joker's girlfriend - including some story angles largely ignored by most writers.
To anyone not up to date on Harley's comic appearances, her character may be largely seen as "thinly-developed" at best. But over the years, she's joined forces with Poison Ivy (who granted her immunity to poison and toxins), Catwoman, and even the Secret Six. (We previously explained why the most well-known "Secret Six" story arc could be adapted into a Deadshot-led Suicide Squad sequel, and Harley would fit the offbeat dynamics perfectly.)
Of course, there is the previously mentioned "Injustice" series, and its alternate timelines in which Harley revealed that she and and the Joker have a daughter named Lucy - a child that Harley has entrusted with her sister, since 'Mistah J' isn't one for familial attachments. If movie audiences are truly hungry for a new spin on the Joker, then dropping that bombshell would send plenty of shockwaves (and open up as many potential story lines).
Whether the plan for her character is based on compelling drama or franchise staying power, the bottom line is the same: if the plan is to view the Joker through a lens darkened by Frank Miller's "Dark Knight" vision, then Harley deserves just as much of an overhaul.
Those are the essential facts for any casual comic book movie fan to get a sense of what to expect from Margot Robbie's 'Harley Quinn 'in Suicide Squad - and realize that her one-note - and beloved - portrayals in the past may have overlooked some of her most intriguing aspects. Have we convinced you that Harley is more than a source of humor, or do you still have your doubts about the character or actress? Share your thoughts in the comments.
Below you'll find more coverage of Suicide Squad - CLICK any LINK for more info on that topic.
- Deathstroke Rumored for Suicide Squad; More Casting Updates
- Suicide Squad: Rumored Plot Teases More DC Universe Connections
- Viola Davis is 'Fascinated, Excited' To Play Suicide Squad's Amanda Waller
- 5 Reasons Why Suicide Squad Could Be a Great DC Comics Movie
Suicide Squad will be in theaters on August 5, 2016.