From her planned one-off appearance in Batman: The Animated Series to blockbuster stardom, over the years Harley Quinn has grown into her role as the ferociously fun trickster. To celebrate the release of BATMAN AND HARLEY QUINN on Blu-ray and DVD on August 28, we’re taking a look at the evolution of the Queen of Gotham City’s criminal underbelly.
Batman: The Animated Series
Harley Quinn made her on-screen debut in 1992. She was written to be a one-off sidekick of the Joker in episode #8 of Batman: The Animated Series, but has since become one of the most popular characters in the DC Universe. Voiced by Arleen Sorkin, the character was inspired by a Days of Our Lives dream sequence in which Sorkin appeared as a court jester. Her costume and named derive from the Italian Commedia dell’arte character ‘Harlequin.’
In this series, we find out her origin story; working as a psychiatrist at Arkham Asylum, Harleen Quinzel greatly sympathised and quickly fell in love with the Joker, who wooed her through a string of stories about his childhood abuse and trauma. Dressed as her soon-to-be Harley Quinn alter-ego, she helped the Joker escape, and started upon her journey as the Joker’s hopelessly devoted right-hand woman.
During her appearance in The Batman, Harley is voiced by Hynden Walch. In the cartoon, Dr. Harleen Quinzel is the host of a televised psychology show, which ends up becoming cancelled due to her superficial, bad advice. The Joker seeks out Harley after she humiliates Bruce Wayne on live TV, sparking their inevitable and famous partnership in the criminal circuit. In the series, Harley becomes the prime villainous rival of Batgirl.
2016 saw possibly the most widely known incarnation of Harley, with Margot Robbie debuting as the psychiatrist-turned-criminal in Suicide Squad. Harley Quinn’s standard black and red outfit is replaced with a ripped, cropped T-shirt, short shorts and platinum blonde hair that is half dip-dyed pink and blue – a look which has now become iconic to the character.
Harley is recruited by Amanda Waller, a high-ranking US government official, to be a part of ‘Task Force X’ – a team comprised of expendable individuals with exceptional powers and abilities who could counter any Metahuman that may turn against humanity. Despite being an active member of the Squad, fighting alongside her villainous cohorts, she is quick to leave them to re-join her boyfriend, The Joker, staying ever-devoted to her “Puddin.”
Batman and Harley Quinn
The latest animated original film in the DC Universe, Batman and Harley Quinn, comes on the 25th anniversary of the creation of Harley Quinn and follows The Dark Knight and Nightwing as they team up with the devilishly fun femme fatale in an attempt to save the world. The latest global threat comes from the eco-villains Floronic Man and Poison Ivy, who want to destroy humanity by transforming every last person into plant matter… nature takes a deadly turn. Melissa Rauch (best known for The Big Bang Theory) voices the trickster in the latest incarnation of the Caped Crusader.