Let me start out by saying I have been watching and re-watching the trailers for this movie for months. I was going into this ready to hate the film for one main reason, the new look and personality of Harley Quinn.
I grew up with classic Harley, the Harley of 'Batman the Animated Series'. The Harley Quinn who was red and black, had a witty response to everything, who was smart and also smashed things with a giant mallet. I loved her humor and her spunky personality, she was always my favorite Batman character.
Watching the trailer as our new pink and blue Harley bent over to stick out her booty for all the boys to see, and to steal a handbag, I rolled my eyes. To be honest I was angry and a little sad. "Here we go", I thought, "Another Hollywood movie where the girl is hardly dressed, sticking it out there for guys to drool over, only showing that she is worth her face and body and maybe a few witty one-liners."
I griped because she looked nothing like my Harley, my Dr. Harleen Quinzel, my twisted jester. This Harley popped bubble gum and tossed her hair, seeming vapid and ditsy. I had been waiting my entire life for a live action Harley Quinn and this is what I get, a dumb blonde?
As the lights dimmed in the theater, I sighed and waited to be let down. Then something kind of awesome happened...
Don't get me wrong there were lots of gratuitous booty shots, and token one-liners, but Harley is more than she seems. I read so many hateful reviews on Margot Robbie's performance and the seemingly new portrayal of Harley. Many critics, especially female ones, called her "stupid" or "eye candy" and one reviewer even said she is "only in the film to be token T&A and push forward male main characters story lines". I disagree.
I was happy with the movie as a whole, it made me laugh, the action scenes were fast paced and explosive, and it was all and all a good super hero (or anti hero) flick. And Harley had an amazing moment in the film you might have missed, that made me change the perspective that I went in with.
We all know Harley and Joker are like murderous PB&J, they belong together, but did you ever stop to wonder why the doctor fell for the psychopath? Tale as old as time right? Wrong. These two had a prolonged courtship where Joker validated Harleen's existence, he gave her purpose and made her feel free. Joker molder her into exactly the kind of woman he wanted, almost without her even noticing. She became in control of her sexuality, alive, powerful, but she was certainly not free. (Spoilers ahead FYI)
Joker has Harleen help him escape Arkham Asylum and kill numerous people. He convinces her to change who she is, how she looks and what she believes. Oh the power of love. Joker even convinces her to "Live for Him" because dying for him was too easy, and she throws herself into a vat of chemicals emerging as his Harley Quinn.
After a long time of Harley loving her "Puddin" you can start to see the weight of it on her. She is crazy, but not as crazy as he is. *More spoilers FYI* Now in the movie an explosion befalls Joker as he tries to rescue Harley, and Oh No he's dead! (yeah like we bought that for one second) They then show Harley crying in the rain sitting on a car, minus the umbrella from this production shot below. She is sad, those are real tears running down her face as she takes off her necklace, which seems more like a dog collar, that reads "Puddin" and she throws it away. She lets go, and seems free, her sadness is mixed with relief. Now here was the moment I really felt this character was done justice.
Out from the building walks the rest of the Suicide Squad gang, coming upon Harley and her tears. She shakes them off, slaps on a grin and says something cute like "Hiya boys did you miss me?" This is the moment I think the critics missed, this millisecond of expression with so much importance. You see in this moment she is putting on an act, a show, a facade. Harleen is acting the role of Harley. The Harley Quinn Joker wants, the Harley Quinn she thinks all men want. And it moved me, she was pretending to be someone a man she loves would want, and all women who have low self-esteem know exactly what I am talking about. This moment made me love this new Harley Quinn, she is beautifully broken.
As the film progresses there is another moving scene that had insight into this character. (spoilers again!) The scene is where Enchantress makes the entire Squad see what they want most. Harley's dream made me honestly cry. There are not photos of this scene online yet so I will describe it.
She is in curlers in a kitchen with a baby on her hip. No tattoos, no guns, no crazy. The Joker walks in wearing a regular suit, no green hair, no grill, no tats, no scary laugh or white face. He kisses her on the cheek and the scene pans out to show another child, a toddler with blonde hair in a high chair. Harley wants a normal life, a family with the man she loves, the life she is realizing that she will never have with Joker as shes says out loud something like "He married me..." Why is this scene also important?
At the end of the movie Harley is sipping espresso and reading when BAM Joker busts in through a wall in the prison to "save" her. We all knew he wasn't dead, but she clearly didn't. There is a short hesitation, then she pounces on Mista J. Was she truly happy? Or was she happier being free of the Joker? What will the realization of never being married, having kids and a normal life with the Joker mean for this twisted couple's future? That my dear is what sequels are for.