He Doesn’t Love You
The Batman Animated Series from the 90’s is one of my favourite Batman adaptations. When I saw the trailer to Harley Quinn last week I remained sceptical over whether this show could pull off the edginess in a way that didn’t feel forced. After all, comedy is subjective and at times it can be difficult for a show like this to stand out without feeling like contrived or leaning too heavily into its cursing and violence. In a way, Harley Quinn leans so heavily into this style it threatens to break completely but through the opening 22 minutes, DC Universe’s new animation does a surprisingly good job setting the scene and tone for what’s to come.
Harley Quinn starts us off with a bloody introduction, crashing a party on a boat before Joker abandons her and leaves her to rot in Arkham for a year. Eventually, Ivy decides to help break her out, tired of trying to convince Harley that Joker doesn’t care about her. This delusional behaviour is something that remains a core part of her character and here, it’s exposed to maximum effect. Ivy takes her to see Joker and he manipulates her into joining with her again at the Fun House.
With Nygma on the run, he captures Harley Quinn and Batman, forcing the clown to choose which one lives and dies. Joker chooses Batman, dropping Harley to her fate and prompting her to finally realize Joker never loved her. With her new suicide squad outfit in tow, Harley tells Joker they’re through and promises to replace him as the top super villain in Gotham. Surrounded by guards, a bloody, violent end sees her eliminate them all before turning her back on the clown and going her own way.
The toxic relationship between Harley Quinn and Joker has always been a big talking point for fans and here it’s really given the chance to breathe. When it comes to themes around female empowerment, Harley Quinn is the sort of show that oozes this idea but it does so in a way that fells naturally progressive rather than agenda-driven. While I personally feel the amount of swearing is a bit excessive, dropping an F-bomb every 30 seconds or so, it actually works quite well with the tone of the series and for a pilot episode, this shock is what’s likely to sell the show and get people talking. The opening episode is always a tricky one to get right, especially when it comes to a beloved franchise like this, and the amount of blood, guts and violence depicted here lends itself to this style of crude language quite well.
Aesthetically, Harley Quinn looks great and the voice acting is pretty good all round. Alan Tudyk does well slotting into the role of Joker although to me Mark Hamill will always hold that spot as the top animated Joker. While I’m still not 100% sold on Kaley Cuoco as the voice of Harley, it’s still early days and there’s plenty of time to get accustomed to this new style of character. So far so good though and I’ve been pleasantry surprised by this one. If you’re looking for something with a slightly different flavour to the Batman universe, Harley Quinn is worth checking out but whether it can keep this up throughout the entire season without feeling contrived or forced remains to be seen.
Expect A Full Season Write Up When This Season Concludes!