Harley Quinn Writers Say Suicide Squad Got Harley's Origin Story Wrong

Friday, 07 October 2016 - 6:56PM
DC Comics
Suicide Squad
Harley Quinn
Friday, 07 October 2016 - 6:56PM
Harley Quinn Writers Say Suicide Squad Got Harley's Origin Story Wrong
Harley Quinn's origin story is hotly debated among fans, particularly since that less-than-empowering New 52 retcon. Suicide Squad is widely viewed to be a more empowering re-write of Harley's New 52 origin, but according to the Harley Quinn comic writers, it was still not particularly true to the character.

In Harley Quinn's original backstory, from the acclaimed Mad Love comic, Harleen Quinzel was a psychiatrist whose evil side manifested when she fell into a manipulative romantic relationship with the Joker. In the New 52 rewrite, Joker pushed Harley into a vat of chemicals, affording her superhuman abilities and turning her into a villain. Many have complained that this retcon was untrue to the character, and took away her agency as a villain in her own right.

In Suicide Squad, Harley chooses to jump into the vat of chemicals of her own free will, but only after Joker tortures her and gives her electroshock therapy. Speaking at NYCC, Harley Quinn comics writers Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner said that the confusingly-edited Suicide Squad made it unclear whether Harley always had those tendencies inside of her, or whether Joker manufactured them.

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"Maybe it's just a weird cut or I'm seeing it wrong," Palmiotti said, "but [in the original origin story] Harley just had it in her and the Joker poked it and got it going."
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"They make it seem like the Joker sort of created Harley," said Tor.com writer and critic Emily Asher-Perrin. "It gives the impression that by giving her shock therapy he sort of unleashed it."
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But that being said, they absolutely loved Margot Robbie in the role. In fact, they thought she was the only good part of the film.

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"We loved Margot Robbie. We thought she was great," said Palmiotti. "You could have just cut the rest of the movie out."
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When asked whether, in the New 52, Harley was actually pushed or chose to jump in the vat of chemicals. The writers chose an answer that's somewhat a middle ground:

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"What if she allowed herself to be pushed?" asked Palmiotti. "We didn't write that issue, but I think she allowed herself to be pushed."

"I think she was just so smitten with him, she was like, 'Oh, okay!'" said Conner.
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And finally, the writers obliquely teased a solo animated movie for Harley Quinn:

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"I would think at this point, it's inevitable," Palmiotti said when asked by a fan whether an animated film was in the works.

"It seems like something they would want to do," teased Conner.
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