Harleen Quinzel

Psycho Killers and the Women Who Love Them: Harley Quinn, Abuse, and Cosplay Pt 3


In today’s installment, we collect our thoughts and round up the final remarks in our series on fictional abuse and it’s significance for real cosplayers. Last week, we asked about the health of Harley Quinn’s relationship.

“I’d say it’s unhealthy that she used to keep going back even though Joker would do these terrible things to her, but it’s not just that she’s the victim, every now and then she’ll take a shot at him for whatever reason, and I think that it adds a lot of character to them both because at the end of the day they’re both bats**t crazy,” said James Longstaff, also known as Love That Joker. Manipulation, something Harley is no stranger to, is a reoccurring theme in domestic abuse; many abusers convince their partners to stay through promises of violence not happening again. The likelihood that violence will continue is extremely high: between 30 -40% of abusers will do so again, regardless of incarceration or counseling. Becca Payne said, “Why do we do that? Because we have hope.” Offenders also will attempt to keep their significant others close by threatening self-harm, a stunt the Joker is no stranger to.

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To many, that’s the appeal of the character: she is a normal person. She has no powers, no super origin, no scars, mental or physical ,that made her choose to become what she is (at least not prior to the New 52). Harleen was a woman who chose to become Harley Quinn to appeal to the man she loved and that real turn in her character is what makes her more relatable to many when compared to other female characters like Wonder Woman or Zatanna, people who harness the power of Gods and other worlds.

This has brought criticism so specific that it is difficult to counter due to it’s extreme nature.

In no unclear words, if you don’t have experience personally with abuse from a partner, this relationship is not something you can enjoy. Of our interviews who do have a history of abuse on some level, here are some reactions:

“And I think their relationship can be enjoyed by anyone,” said Longstaff.

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“You don’t have to be abused to enjoy observing a fictional abusive relationship that leads to rich storytelling,” said Andrew Arkham Cosplay.

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“I’d say, that’s your opinion. But they also have to realize that it’s a fictional relationship in a controlled environment. Yes, these kinds of things do happen in real life, but this isn’t real life. People are allowed to enjoy whatever they choose and others can mind their own business. The comics and characters can be appreciated by everyone, but I don’t think that people who haven’t been through the situations that the characters have can fully grasp the concept or gravity of what they’re going through,” said Anderson.

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“That just seems foolish to me? It’s not a matter of privilege,” said Harley Quinnsane.

So, if someone feels that Joker and Harley are “cute,” despite their well-documented groundings in violence and poor treatment, how can you counter that? Is someone misjudging that relationship or are these fans simply imbalanced themselves? Are they teenagers who don’t understand relationships? The answers we received were somewhere between.

Andrew Arkham Cosplay feels these readers are either misguided, or not readers at all. “The kids don’t acknowledge the abuse, they just like the visual of a not-so-normal relationship like Jack and Sally, Morticia and Gomez, and let’s face it: in the cartoon/comic world, there aren’t a lot like that besides those two. They are very misinformed on what’s truly going on between the characters and/or refuse to acknowledge the abusive undertones and are simply enamored by just the visual.” He feels this also isn’t the first time young readers have misrepresented the toxicity of a relationship and turned it into something desirable. “Twilight can also be seen as a manipulative relationship, yet it is still desired just because of one thing: it’s different.”

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Harley Quinnsane connected the romanticization of the relationship to 50 Shades of Grey, which has had a very established backlash from the BDSM community for it’s depiction of what is supposed to be a safe environment for would-be questionable activity. “It’s a complete misunderstanding. Joker is abusive. That’s it, that’s all. And Harley has her episodes too. It’s not a kink – it’s dangerous and unhealthy. But we, especially cosplayers, have to remember that these are cartoon super-villains and their relationship should be in no way mimicked or accepted in real life.”

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Shauna Lynn may have the best connection to the young audience that is usually both marketed to and worried about when it comes to making this sick relationship seem ideal. It didn’t work on her. “I feel that girls now are looking at her as an icon and thinking that her and the Joker are so cute together because of physical appearance having no knowledge of their past. I feel that some young people are a bit uneducated on them.”

“Read a Joker/Harley comic book,” said Longstaff.

All of this discussion of the abuse from Joker is currently moot in DC’s current stories. Crazy Clover Cosplay says, “Harley is her own person now and has her own comic series without the Joker! Her character found the strength to leave and that can encourage others who might be in a bad situation to leave as well. In the end though, it is all make believe and fun.” Most fans will tell you that the Joker doesn’t stay dead for long, though, and if the majority of readers do enjoy stories of Joker and Harley, they probably won’t stay divided for long, either. However, Quinn is currently shacked up and in an open relationship with an old friend.  “Well, Poison Ivy and Harley are pretty cute,” said Shauna Lynn.

While stories of abuse can be important, stories of progress, with it’s struggles, are what draw many to these grounded characters. “In a silly sort of way, seeing Harley doing her own thing in her current comic story lines, gives me a sense of hope and inspiration. Sure, she still has her own issues to sort out, like PTSD, anger, and being bats**t bonkers, but she’s getting by,” says Taka. “Harley is a sort of a bleeding heart and has a soft spot for animals and those who can’t help themselves.” Fiction is often the help that those who believe they can’t help themselves need to motivate them to do so.

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The future of the character’s status as a role model and sort of “patron saint” of women struggling with a cycle of abuse is up for debate. Her current comics solo run by Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti has been lauded by many like Taka, who see her as a character getting by and making her own way from day-to-day amid slapstick adventures and has been very successful with several spin-off titles including Harley Quinn and her Gang of Harleys and Harley Quinn’s Little Black Book. But the title also shows Harley participating in acts of violence that are almost brutal in nature. She is more consistently violent in this comic than any other portrayal, including the violence towards her former partner, Joker, from whom she is estranged in the story. There is also the critique that she appears to be more unbalanced and at times “dumbed down” for comedic value. She is also featured as a player in the well-received DC Comics Bombshells title, recently applauded for openly featuring a kiss between Poison Ivy and Harley amid a large cast of female leads taking place during WWII. The Suicide Squad film is also likely to have a huge impact on the character, with rumors of future solo films or female team-ups flying in every direction. The film dials back the abuse presumably for the purpose of marketing: no one can complain about romanticizing abuse through selling cute merch if the abuse isn’t in the film. However, some still complain about the abuse even when it isn’t presented, especially fans who so strongly relate to her metamorphosis. There is a heavy focus on the male gaze pointed towards Harley, which may only contribute to further over sexualization and romanticization of the character and pairing as a whole in the future considering the success of the movie.

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With the popularity of Suicide Squad, fans will be flocking to the girl in motley. Whether fans of her classic Dini and Timm-era antics beside her Mistah J or finding inspiration through her more modern comic incarnations like the series mentioned above, it’s clear that people are drawn to her as a tragic figure, as a source of inspiration, or simply as a smart and sassy clown with the on-again, off-again gangster beau. There is just something about Harley, but maybe the joke’s on us.

Psycho Killers and the Women Who Love Them: Harley Quinn, Abuse, and Cosplay Pt 3

Psycho Killers and the Women Who Love Them: Harley Quinn, Abuse, and Cosplay Pt 2

You can find Part 1 of this series here.

In last week’s installment, we discussed Harley Quinn’s history, and her deep connection with abuse. This week, we speak to cosplayers about their connections to the character. Trigger warning: this article discusses abuse specifically.

“I do have a history with an abusive boyfriend,” cosplayer Misses J Quinn told us. “I feel very connected to Harley because of this. It is not a healthy relationship. I think no one deserves to experience an abusive relationship.” She wasn’t alone.

Cosplayer Zoe Anderson said, “It goes all the way back to living at home and watching my parents do the same thing that I would see repeated. You might say I had become desensitized or, perhaps even blind to what was considered abuse. I’d let my boyfriend smack me around, blame things on me, cheat on me, and more.” Her understanding of the connection between her and the character wasn’t obvious to her. “As I saw glimpses of her past home life and then looking in at my personal relationships I could definitely see it. The more I looked at it, the more the two seemed to blend together, and I was desperate for a way to express this.” For Anderson, that expression was cosplay. “Cosplay has definitely given me a way to healthily express myself. It is something that helps my mental well-being and it does make me feel pretty damn good all around. All you get is compliments.”

This sentiment was echoed by several cosplayers, including Becca Payne, who told us, “Cosplaying makes me feel like who I am on the inside and to me, that is healthy.” Savannah Kelly said, “I think that cosplay should be judgment free and should include everyone who is willing to put the effort into cosplaying.”

Becka Taka Cosplay tells us cosplay was important to her ability to manage her depression, and Harley Quinn was a part of it. “I was months into the worst depressive period of my life. There was a cosplay function being held in the area on my birthday and I forced myself to attend. I ran around as a princess, then later (a few drinks later) changed into a cute Harley themed dress, complete with mismatched shoes, mask and poofy pigtailed wig. I think my extreme love for her was born then. I mean how can you NOT have a good time dressed as her?”

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Taka’s story echo’s many of the elements of the 1994 Mad Love story. “I immediately felt a connection, like the world stopped for a moment when I met him. He was more than a little shy but we could talk for hours. He was damaged. He had led a hard life and it was like I came into his for a reason. Like the idiot empath I am, I felt his pain. I wanted to heal him. I foolishly thought ‘He just needs someone to love him.’ I honestly thought I was that person. The rest was a whirlwind of passion, late nights talking, him needing me, me needing to be needed… It has been said that when you look at the world(or a lover) with rose tinted glasses, that all the red flags look like just… flags. Nothing, could be closer to the truth. I was warned by friends. I was begged to stop what I was doing. But I was under his spell and it was a powerful one at that.”

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“The day we signed the lease, was almost exactly the day he changed into a monster. You see, he had gotten exactly what he wanted. He lived in a shitty room, in a shitty part of town and wanted nothing more than to get out. I was also desperate for a place to live and either intentionally, or not, I was made into his victim.”

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What followed was also similar to Harleen’s story, one of first mental and emotional control that became abuse, and then abuse that became physical. “I absolutely feel a connection to Harley because of my past. Here you have a character who is at the pinnacle of her career, beautiful, athletic(she was a gymnast) and getting the opportunity to study one of Gotham’s most notorious criminals at the Arkham Asylum. Before I met the man that brought my life to a screeching halt, I was confident, at a healthy weight, and planning a career in either Vegas or Atlanta. After he got in my head, I was driven to near madness. I completely lost sight of the well adjusted person I once was before I met my abuser, yet much like Harley, kept coming back again and again for more abuse.”

While disturbing, Taka’s history is not unusual. Of the cosplayers we interviewed, 90% said that they had some history of abuse, be it physical, emotional, or mental. Our interviews were 80% female, 20% male. These numbers have little to do with cosplay, and instead mirror national statistics. According to the National Network to End Domestic Violence, approximately 7 million women in the U.S. are assaulted or raped by a current or former partner each year. Love is Respect reports 43% of dating college women and 28% of men reported experiencing violent and abusive dating behaviors in a relationship.

“I was a stupid teenager that fell in love for dumb reasons and let myself get caught up in that relationship because it was there and I’ve always had self-confidence issues when it comes to feeling wanted and loved,” said Crazy Clover Cosplay. “I’ll admit that I have felt a closer connection to Harley after going through what I did, though my past relationships could never hold a candle to what many others have gone through in their lives. It isn’t even close to Harley and the Joker.” So, is fiction, and by extension playing out your favorite fictional character, a danger or catharsis?

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The idea that abuse survivors could find familiarity and strength in a character like Harley Quinn is not new, and it is often the opposing response to criticism of the popularity of the character and her portrayal. Harley Quinnsane, a cosplayer and roller derby girl, says, “She brought me into the cosplaying world. She helped me find an identifier.” Shauna Lynn, the youngest of our interviews, would probably be placed in the demographic that romanticized merchandise is geared to. She said, “The main thing that appealed to me is that Harley Quinn is such a sweet girl who is over her head over someone who abuses her. I feel like I can relate to her because all people ever want is to be loved and I feel that Harley learns she needs to be strong for herself.”

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The fall of Harleen Quinzel into Harley Quinn may seem familiar to some victims. “I adore both Harley and Joker purely for the fact I feel they are the way real love is portrayed. And no I don’t mean with the physical abuse or even the mental, I mean in the sense that you take this innocent woman, a woman who was going to accomplish good things until she fell in love,” said Becca Payne. “You have all these fairy-tales and stories that push the fact that true love conquers all, that it’s the most amazing and great feeling in the world and once you have it, you have it forever. Their love isn’t the type of love you grew up reading about, they didn’t push the fact that love is your happy ending.”

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The debate between fictional violence creating real violence has been going on forever, and we aren’t about to start digging into that. We also aren’t going to get into a discussion about whether or not the Joker genuinely loves Harley; it’s an entire conversation to itself and has been handled with plenty of panels and screenshots before. What can be said is that domestic violence in fiction has been said to provide understanding about domestic abuse in everyday life.

Crazy Clover Cosplay tells us, “it gives us a look into a world that we might not ever know, but I believe that by appreciating stories that involve these kinds of things and growing to love the characters in them, we can learn greater compassion and love and appreciation for those in the real world that have experienced these things.”

Becky Taka Cosplay believes it can provide a way for others to understand abuse in relationships. “While sometimes it seems that the Joker actually cares for Harley, a true sociopath is not able to express empathy, and that fact is unfortunately very frightening because it is very real. Even if someone hasn’t experienced an abusive relationship firsthand, maybe reading or watching the situations that arise between the two characters, could serve to help raise awareness of those issues.” These characters may be garish and do ridiculous, completely unreal things; they literally dress like clowns. However, that doesn’t mean that their relationship can’t feel real, and their actions don’t mirror real life violence on a human level.

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Next week, we continue our three part series on cosplay and fictional abuse. Stay tuned.

Psycho Killers and the Women Who Love Them: Harley Quinn, Abuse, and Cosplay Pt 2

Psycho Killers and the Women Who Love Them: Harley Quinn, Abuse, and Cosplay Pt 1

Suicide Squad is the most successful August movie in history and it brought many characters unfamiliar to non-comic audiences to the front of pop culture conversation. In the wake of all the buzz, more people than ever are asking “who is Harley Quinn?” Almost anyone with a little geek knowledge can tell you she’s the Joker’s moll, but it’s a much more complicated question than that, fraught with questions of morality, violence, romanticization, sexualization, and perhaps most of all, love. We took the time out to really analyze these issues by viewing them through the lens of what turned out to be a surprisingly large section of comics audiences: Harley Quinn fans who also identified as victims of abuse.

Few characters capture the imagination of on-screen and comic audiences quite like the Joker. He is the longest-standing comic villain and has the most iterations of any of Batman’s rogue gallery, from the big screen to the small. Since the popularity of Batman: The Animated Series, fans have found pleasure in pairing the Clown Prince of Crime with a partner: Harley Quinn. Originally intended to be a one-off henchwoman, Harley was written by Paul Dini and designed by Bruce Timm in 1992. Quinn only appeared in nine episodes to her beau’s 15, but her iconic appearance, personality, and voice has lived on for over 20 years. Quinn has found herself the star of multiple spin-off comics and found further success in the New 52. For comic fans, Harley may be DC’s brightest star. For cosplayers, the Joker and Harley Quinn have found themselves to be two of the most-imitated characters in the Batverse. This success, however, isn’t without it’s critics.

The characters do not have what anyone in their right mind would call a healthy relationship. Harleen Quinzel became Harley Quinn to appease the man she loved, a love most would agree is built around Joker’s manipulation and Harley’s attraction to the psychologically extreme. In 1994’s “Mad Love”, their relationship was explored and given both a back story and a bottom line: love is not always kind, or sane. Harley was a young, capable doctor with no history of crime or mental issues prior to meeting Mr. J. Joker throws Harley out a window, and all it takes is a note attached to some flowers sent to her hospital room to take Harley from “never again” to “whenever he wants.”

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Harley’s standalone comics have seen her pairing up (read: sometimes shacking up) with other DC characters, with Poison Ivy often stepping in to fill the clown’s squeaky shoes. Ivy occasionally perpetuates her own brand of manipulation, but she is definitely more of a straight shooter, and is shown to both outwardly care for and reciprocate the feelings of Quinn. In other words, since her inception, Harley has been familiar with abuse, mental, emotional, and physical.

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That isn’t to say that Harley doesn’t do her own share of violent things to the ones she cares for. Joker may often take the prize at “most manipulative,” but Harley was a gymnast, and has shown herself to be a capable foe physically. She is also  powered up by Ivy in both the Batman: The Animated Series episode “Harley and Ivy” and during “No Man’s Land”, gaining extra strength and agility as well as an immunity to poisons. When the Joker sets her off, it isn’t the Dark Knight she is taking out her aggression on.

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So, who would find these two appealing? Apparently, a lot of DC’s audience. Harley and Joker as a pair are some of the most sought after DC collectibles, and Alex Ross’ recent work, titled “Mind If I Cut In?” depicts the couple seconds after the Caped Crusader steps in on their now-classic pose. The print goes for upwards of $900 dollars and fans seem willing to spend it. Retail stores like Hot Topic sell merchandise of both “Mad Love” and Alex Ross’ work, as well as other products that depict the particularly toxic duo’s relationship as something to be admired.

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This depiction, as well as countless works of fan art and fiction, has drawn criticism from those who feel that the relationship and it’s romanticization is a detriment to readers. Opposing remarks can be found about couples who cosplay as the grinning lovers. Detractors say that romanticizing the two is a detriment to those who have had abusive relationships, and that cosplay is idolization of a dangerous, problematic pairing. Some have went as far as to say that, if you do not have a history of abuse, you can’t enjoy them.

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Negative representations of relationships skewed to be romantic aren’t new. Romeo and Juliet have been criticized for pushing dangerous versions of love since long before New York accents and definitely prior to Paul Dini giving one to a girl dressed like a harlequin. “There is tons of violence in Shakespeare, there is nothing wrong with enjoying/appreciating it because it is  just art. Just like comics are art,” said Andrew Arkham Cosplay.

So, who are these fans? How do these people deal with the idea that their beloved couple might be a poor example for relationships? We spoke to Joker and Harley cosplayers about their interest in the characters, their history with relationships, and if, and where, the two meet. Trigger warning for anyone reading who might find discussions of abuse, both mental and physical difficult, as this is a discussion with abuse victims about their experience and the ways in which they have found to deal with their past.

Next week, we continue our series of interviews with cosplayers and dive into the world of fictional abuse and it’s significance in real world affinity for characterization. Tune in Monday for more.

Psycho Killers and the Women Who Love Them: Harley Quinn, Abuse, and Cosplay Pt 1

The Evolution of Harley Quinn

Hello everyone and happy birthday to the clown princess of crime herself, Harley Quinn! Yes, in honor of Harley’s first debut in Batman: The Animated Series I am going to be doing a look back and review some of her most iconic looks through various animated TV appearances, comics, video games, and live action media. Now obviously I can’t hit on all of these looks so I will just be touching on those that are the major ones throughout the years. So sit back and rev up your Harley’s because here we go!

Harley Quinn Animated Incarnations

Well we first can’t talk about Harley Quinn without first seeing her before The Joker twisted her mind and made her into the lovable clown we all know. We first get to see Harley Quinn as Dr. Harleen Quinzel of Arkham Asylum. Here she has a simple white lab coat, her blonde hair in a bun, thick black rimmed glasses, and a red shirt and black tie. (Classic Harley colors) A simple doctors outfit but still keeping to the color scheme of what the classic Harley look would be with the red and black colors. Very simple and classy.

Dr. Harleen Quinzel - Harley Quinn

Now of course after The Joker twists her mind she ditches the doctors garb along with her real name and takes on the new name of Harley Quinn along with an appropriate matching outfit. This outfit harkens back to the renaissance days with a court jester feel with diamond patters all over the costume. This costume is the classic red and black jester outfit that artist Bruce Timm created in 1992 and that most if not all of the Harley fans have come to know and love. It has the red and black alternating colors along with the white collar and wrist cuffs, red and black gloves, a simple black domino mask, white clown makeup with black lipstick, and red and black diamonds placed on her legs and arms. Her red and black jester hood is accented with two white balls on the ends of them, and one red shoe and one black shoe to alternate. This is what many fans refer to as “the classic look.” This is also one of the most cosplayed and beloved versions of the character out there. This is how many fans were introduced to this now very popular DC character. To me this just screams Harley Quinn…not booty shorts, stockings, a corse,t and mini cape… (I’m looking at you New 52!) She kept that classic look for most of her animated appearances in the original Batman series, Justice League cartoons, and various cartoon spinoffs in the late 90’s and early 2000’s.

Harley Quinn

Now jump ahead to the mid 2000’s and we have a new Batman animated series. With all new character designs and look to the series it was natural for Harley to get a new look to fit the tone and look of this new animated series. Season 4 introduced us to the new Harley Quinn. This marked the first time in an animated series that Harley looked and sounded different. Her outfit kept the red and black color scheme but drastically altered the head piece, mask, and body suit. Her jester hood was now much larger and seemed to swoop back and then come out to the sides. Also attached were one red ball and one black on corresponding ends. Her mask also concealed her eyes fully so we couldn’t see her blue eyes anymore, just big white circles and had a thin black rim around the mask. Her white collar was lengthened so it would droop down to her chest, and taken from three points to just two. Also noticeable were the lack of diamonds anywhere on her body and finger-less gloves. Her form was slimmed down a lot and the suit seemed to be one big piece, instead of several pieces like before. For a reboot of the character I actually enjoyed this look. It was the first time anyone had seen a different animated Harley and fans reacted strongly with positive praise for the design. Sadly the show only lasted one more season after they introduced her so we didn’t get to see all that much of Harley after that. But what we did get to see I liked.

Harley Quinn Jester

 

Jump ahead four more years and we have yet another Batman animated series titled Batman: The Brave and the Bold. Harley Quinn only appeared once in this series towards the end of its run with a drastic change to her appearance. She became black and white! Her design for this series harkened back to the silent film days with her not being in color and wearing a black flapper dress and pearls. Honestly my least favorite look of hers in any of the animated series. Not too sure what the creative team were doing for this look but it just didn’t hit any of the classic Harley looks or feels to me. But since it was such a drastic change I thought i’d at least give it a small mention.

Harley Quinn - Brave and the Bold

Her most recent animated appearance would be in the 2014 animated feature Batman: Assault on Arkham. A movie tie-in to the Arkham game franchise. Here Harley has her black and red jester outfit yet again but this time she bares a mid drift (like most of her outfits in the Arkham games). She has one black arm sleeve, combat boots, and instead of a white collar it’s in all black along with the two white balls on her jester cap changed to black as well. This outfit is a mix between her classic and the Arkhamverse outfits. I can see why they didn’t go with the full classic look as it wouldn’t have fit in the universe and would have looked off. This also proves that you can still retain a good portion of Harley’s original look and have her be in the Suicide Squad and not look like a slutted up clown. (Can ya tell which outfit I hate the most yet?)

Harley Quinn - Assault on Arkham

 

Harley Quinn Video Game Incarnations

Harley has appeared in many Batman and DC video games. Most of them consisted of her in her classic look or a look from a different animated series. That is until the 2009 game Batman: Arkham Asylum. This was the first time fans have seen a design of Harley Quinn that was this drastic and a complete 180 of what she normally looks like. I am of course talking about her nurses outfit! In this game Harley wears nurses attire while helping The Joker take over Arkham and make Batman’s night a living hell. In this any hint of her jesters outfit or original look are out the window. She has free flowing blonde pigtails, a purple domino mask, a nurses hat, a white nurses shirt with an exposed red and purple bra, a corset that is cinched down tight to show off her figure, a red and purple color scheme instead of red and black, a white mini skirt that is stained with blood, fishnets, and knee high red and purple boots. This was the first time we ever saw Harley in any thing like this, and for fans of the classic look this came to a complete shock to us. Even with the original voice actress Arleen Sorkin coming back to voice her, this didn’t seem like Harley at all. However this outfit grew on me and I came to realize that perhaps its one of her main themed outfits, as in, her and The Joker pull off many crimes and some have themes so she would dress of the part. So thats how I see this as she is dressing for the part of the asylum nurse.

Harley Quinn - Arkham Asylum

 

2011 marked the release to the sequel to Arkham Asylum titled Batman: Arkham City.

In this game Harley’s red and black look are back but fully reimagined and revamped in the form of a leather ensemble. Her blonde hair is now dipped with red and black tips, she looses the domino mask in favor of heavy dark smokey eyes, bright red lips, red and black arm sleeves, her bra shows again behind a red and black sleeveless shirt, silver and black wrist bands with studs, fingerless gloves with a diamond design, tattoos on her left arm and right hip, the same corset from the first game just red and black now, red and black leather pants with diamonds on them and the same boots as well from the first game but just changed to fir the red and black colors. In the DLC Harley’s Revenge her outfit changes yet again. After mourning the death of The Joker (whoops, spoilers) her outfit changes to primarily black with a black veil, black hair, darkened lips and makeup, and white ruffles on her wrist cuffs. Both of these outfits saw a drastic change in Harley with her taking on more responsibilities in the gang as Joker got sicker and eventually leading Jokers men after his death. Both of these outfits are considered the darkest out of the series because of those reasons. She still retains the classic Harley mannerisms and personality from before, but these outfits are considered more militant than her themed outfit from Arkham Asylum.

Harley Quinn - Arkham City

 

In 2013 the game Injustice: Gods among Us was released with critical praise. This game was developed by the team behind Mortal Kombat. So naturally certain characters would look totally different. As was the case for Harley Quinn. Her look was very in that “Mortal Kombat” style of thinking, with a red and purple color scheme and red and purple dyed hair with a green streak added assuming in honor of the Joker, she had one of those looks that made fans go huh? Luckily she had another costume called the Insurgency costume that fans took to liking more than her base outfit. Also released for DLC were costume packs that showcased some of Harley’s looks through other games or comics. Released were her classic look, the Arkham City outfit, and her look in the Ame-Comi comic series. 2013 also debuted Harley’s first time in a video game as Dr. Harleen Quinzel in the game Batman: Arkham Origins. Though in there briefly she does have her classic look from the Animated Series when she was a doctor. A nice nod to Harley fans to put in the game, just with a little Christmas twist.Harley Quinn - Injustice: Gods Among Us

 

2015 debuted the presumably final time we would see Harley in the Arkham games with the release of Arkham Knight. In this she keeps her red and black dyed hair and makeup from Arkham City but yet again the outfit changes. Her outfit is comprised of what look’s like a french maid skirt, a white blouse that is reminiscent from the first game, a black corset that covers her mid drift from the previous two games, her red and black bra shows with harness straps that go around her waist and chest and up to a connecting piece on a neck collar, red and black sleeves with white lace around the wrists, red and black leather pants with the diamonds on the thighs, and red and black boots with metal studs in the back of them. This outfit seems to take a little piece from the first two games and combine them into one thing. They also seemed to have added some unused concept art from previous games and incorporated it into her final design. I actually really do like this outfit. It is cute but not overly sexed up like the previous ones. She is covering up her waist and seems to be a little bit more conservative with this look seeing as how she is the full leader of Jokers gang. In a recent DLC released for the game she is finally shown in her classic jester look as her and Joker kidnap the commissioner and Batgirl and Robin must go and save him.

Arkham Knight - Harley Quinn

Harley Quinn Comic Book Incarnations

In the comics Harley has had many outfits, most keep to the traditional outfit from the 90’s or variations on them, but none more drastic and changing than in  2011’s debut with the New 52’s version of The Suicide Squad. This look has gotten the most controversy with Harley fans and DC fans alike. In this universe Harley has permanently dyed red and blue hair and chalk white skin. Curtesy of The Joker throwing her into the same vat of chemicals he was thrown into during his fight with Batman. She wears an extremely tight red and blue corset that shows off her waist and pushes up her breasts and makes them look fuller. The corset also has a set of throwing knives on each side, a mini cape that is attached to a white victorian era collar, red and blue arm gauntlets with diamond patterns on them, black eye makeup that makes her look like a member of the band KISS, red and blue booty shorts, and red and blue knee high stockings and boots to match. When I first saw this outfit I was flabbergasted and confused. I kept asking where the harlequin style came into play. After all thats what her name is, a play on word of harlequin. That’s who she was, Harley Quinn dressed as a harlequin. This outfit got rid of it all, the playfulness of it, the cute, the funny. This made her look ruthless, very slutty, and like a cold blooded killer. I was so angry for what they did to my favorite character out of the whole DC universe, not only with her outfit but her personality and backstory as well I stopped reading The Suicide Squad after her new origin story debut. I just couldn’t read anymore, or look at what they did to her.

Haryley Quinn - New 52 Suicide Squad

After her stint in The Suicide Squad Harley got her own series in 2013. In this she looses the red and blue colors and reverts to the red and black colors. Her skin is still bleached and hair dyed. But she no longer wears her getup from the Suicide Squad comics. On the debut cover she is wearing a roller derby outfit. Red and black color scheme with diamonds, cute roller skates, dark eye makeup (not nearly as drastic as the Suicide Squad style), and various knee and elbow pads. Now to be fair I haven’t really read a whole lot of her new series. I have heard mixed reviews. but what I have heard is that its a nice departure from the Suicide Squad stuff and it gets to showcase Harley on her own and doing what she does best. Be Harley Quinn. I have seen a few outfits from the series and what I’ve seen I’ve liked a hell of a lot better that the stuff before. Now is it perfect and what I truly wanna see? Of course not. But for now its better than nothing I guess.

 

Harley Quinn Solo Comic Series

Harley Quinn Live Action Incarnations

Now as for live action stuff. Harley Quinn as only ever appeared in two forms of live action media. One being the short lived show in 2002 called The Birds of Prey where she was played by Mia Sara, and in the 2016 movie Suicide Squad played by Margot Robbie. In the TV show Birds of Prey we don’t actually get to see Harley Quinn in all her glory until the final episode of the series. Here she is shown to have a long sleeved red sweater with black diamonds cut out on the chest, red gloves, a black skirt and red and black shoes. Absent are her mask, clown makeup, and jester hood. For her first live action debut I wish they would have done a little more to her, but it was an OK outfit for the first time on a campy TV show like that.

Birds of Prey - Harley Quinn

Now on to the new Suicide Squad movie. This is the first time we get to see Harley Quinn on the big screen so of course they choose to do the Suicide Squad version of her. In this she has the red and blue colors back yet again (although her hair is dyed pink and blue for the tips) booty shorts, a red and blue jacket, fishnets, high heel sneakers, tattoos everywhere, a t-shirt, and “puddin” choker. This version seems to borrow little bits and pieces from many of the previous looks that Harley has had in the past. Now rumors did surface online that she would be getting multiple costumes in the film and from the recent trailer that dropped that rumor seems to be confirmed. People have asked me if I am still going to see the film. Of course I am! It’s Harley’s first big screen debut!! I may not like the look as a whole, but I love the actress Margot Robbie and I think she will do a fantastic job as Harley Quinn. And I am sure as with a majority of her outfits this one will grown on me too. Just gotta give it time is all.

Suicide Squad - Harley Quinn

 

So which version of Harley Quinn do you like the most or least? Was there an outfit or look I missed that should have been mentioned? Sound off on the comments below and let us know which Harley you absolutely love.

Harley Quinn - Batman: The Animated Series

The Evolution of Harley Quinn