by M.J. Moneymaker
“Suicide Squad” features Amanda Waller, Katana, The Enchantress and Harley Quinn who have conversations with each other about something other than a man. Somewhat true, let’s face it, they are surrounded by men. Overall, I think the soon to be released movie, will pass the Bechdel test… not really a test, more a rating by my standards. Now that’s out of the way…
At this year’s San Diego Comic-Con (SDCC), Harley Quinn cosplay was everywhere. I couldn’t search #SDCC without spotting Harley’s classic joker onesie or her newer Daisy duke knock off ensemble. Even Tara Strong, who voiced the animated series, showed up in Harley Quinn gear.
What I didn’t spy was anyone wearing the spectacles, red blouse and white lab coat of Harleen Frances Quinzel, M.D. And I’m not sure why… Dr. Quinn is as sexy as her harlequin side.
This bugs me. I feel like the best part of this DC character is getting left behind. It’s a layer of Harley Quinn’s character that I don’t think should be shed so easily or boiled down.
The New 52 origin story is not the same as the original. In the animated series, Dr. Quinn is a challenge to the Joker and the Joker is a challenge for Dr. Quinn. I agree with Donna Dickens (@MILDLYAMUSED) that the New 52 origin story loses agency having the Joker ‘create’ Harley rather than Harley choosing to be a supervillian.
I will even take it further, I think Harley Quinn is Dr. Quinn’s social experiment in freedom. The Joker may have pointed her in the direction with dialogue like, “Because once I didn’t care about the rules any more, I had all the power.” But it was the hypocrisy of seeing the Joker continuously escape and return to Arkham Asylum beaten down by Batman that motivates Dr. Quinn to throw the rules out the window. I will also venture to say that Dr. Quinn never loved the Joker. The Joker is just her muse to release her inner ‘Jekyll and Hyde’. A man didn’t make Harley Quinn… the doctor did.
In an interview with Margot Robbie she states, “You Can Always See a Bit of Dr. Harleen Quinzel in Harley Quinn.” I want more than a little bit. Harley Quinn from the start has had a layered complex backstory that’s lead her becoming the toast of SDCC 2016. I don’t think some of the new character choices give new fans the full breathe of how freeing Harley Quinn is for Dr. Harleen Quinn.
At least, that’s what I’ve taken away from the trailers and reading the New 52. Regardless… I will be going to see “Suicide Squad” next weekend. I mean, what other summer blockbuster movie features as many women lead characters?
“X-Men,” “GhostBusters,” President Clinton… hhmmm, women leads are trending this summer.
The Bechdel Group
Working to challenge the portrayal of women in film and on stage.