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  1. #1

    Default The Problem With Harley Quinn

    I'm sure this topic or something similar has come up, but I'm not sure where those threads are. I just want to throw this out there.

    I was never that into Harley Quinn as a character, but nowadays I just find her insufferable. Thinking about why she's come to bothers me so much, I realized she really went downhill when DC decided she should be "empowered" while maintaining her identity as "Joker's abused girlfriend."

    In the old cartoons and her initial comic appearances, if Harley was portrayed as an empowered figure, it was because/after she broke away from the Joker. She'd either pair up with Poison Ivy or be somewhat of an anti-hero, but either way, she was at worst mischievous.
    A villain, but a relatively harmless one you could see heroes tolerating if they found themselves forced to cooperate with her.

    But then, pretty much around the New 52, they decided Harley should be "empowered" but still "Joker's girlfriend"...which, on the face of it, seems a contradictory concept. So they decided the way to do that was by making her Joker's "equal."
    Yeah, he abuses her, but she's just as crazy and dangerous and he is, if not more crazy (stated almost verbatim in the Suicide Squad movie). In turn, her actions escalated to outright monstrous and cruel (orchestrating the deaths of hundreds of children).

    So she's a strong, empowered woman despite the Joker abusing her because it's a mutually toxic relationship and they're both awful people. And that makes it edgy, too! Right?

    And yet, despite Harley being established as just as vile and nasty as the Joker, writers still maintain her aura as a lovable, harmless villain or anti-hero with a heart of gold. I'm sure I'm not the only who sees the issue here.

    Irritatingly, it all comes across as a cynical effort by DC to make her their answer to Deadpool.
    A sexy answer, because I don't think it's a coincidence the shift in her character also came with far more revealing outfits.

    It results in a confused and inconsistent portrayal of Harley that gets hand-waved with "But she's crazy!"

    That's why she fangirls at the sight of Wonder Woman in one comic...then rolls her eyes & brushes Diana off as a lame square in another.

    It's why Harley is supposed to be a dangerous, unpredictable wild-card like the Joker...but at the same time, heroes just shrug and smile at her presence instead of twisting her head off.

    Say what you will about Deadpool, he is somewhat consistent in his morals, such as they are, and how other characters respond to him. He's a mercenary, but he has lines he won't cross and other heroes regard him as (at least) a dangerous nuisance or (at worst) a scumbag that should be put down.

    In a way, Harley is the victim of her own popularity. Fans liked the lovable clown. They liked the abuse survivor. They liked the tragedy that she kept crawling back to the Joker.
    And in response, DC gave MOAR of all of that, resulting in an obnoxious mess of a character who gets shoe-horned into stories she shouldn't be a part of, put on a level with other character she shouldn't be near, and grows more and more into a caricature of what she initially was.

    Sort of like how fans liked the notion Batman was crafty and cunning enough to beat seemingly insurmountable odds and that eventually grew into the goddamn Bat-god who can beat the entire Justice League single-handed with whatever he's got in his utility belt.

    Two cents.
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  2. #2
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    There's a problem with consistency when it comes to Harley but a lot of characters suffer from this including Wonder Woman.

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by Agent Z View Post
    There's a problem with consistency when it comes to Harley but a lot of characters suffer from this including Wonder Woman.
    No s***. But I'm not talking about Wonder Woman or other characters here.
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  4. #4
    Astonishing Member Restingvoice's Avatar
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    Yeah that's the thing. The loveable Harley series by Conner and Palmiotti came out to quell fans' reactions since it's right after Harley killed those kids. The character was going edgy and fans didn't like it but the breaking point was that issue.

    Usually when the character is declared ruined like that by fans it doesn't matter how they're fixed, they just want the old character back, because the ruined part doesn't count. So DC just allows a semi-continuity series alongside the main series so they can keep the fans.

    She still kills people in the Palmiotti/Conner series, but it's funny and the series isn't meant to be taken seriously.

    Then they got more and more popular and more people to jump in at Harley already independent, strong, abusive survivor, and lovable crazy girl... and it doesn't matter if they do a proper transition from edgy murderer to lovable again because "it's out of character so it doesn't count" is a standard mantra for every fan of every character. Harley's turn just happened to be the New 52 Suicide Squad.

  5. #5
    Incredible Member Gaius's Avatar
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    Personally, I soured on the character around the time of Injustice games and comics where she was as equally responsible for the events of the series but for some reason was on the story-decreed good side.

    That said, I always found the character more irritating than charming because of the voice.

  6. #6
    Astonishing Member Riv86672's Avatar
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    I love that voice. Reminds me of home.

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    Spectacular Member staptik777's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Guy_McNichts View Post
    Irritatingly, it all comes across as a cynical effort by DC to make her their answer to Deadpool
    I couldn't agree more
    Quote Originally Posted by Guy_McNichts View Post
    Batman was crafty and cunning enough to beat seemingly insurmountable odds and that eventually grew into the goddamn Bat-god who can beat the entire Justice League single-handed with whatever he's got in his utility belt
    Harley also can beat the entire Justice League single-handed with whatever she's got in Batman's utility belt


  8. #8
    Astonishing Member mathew101281's Avatar
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    No, she just has the problem all female villains have when they get popular. There seems to be a cultural force that pulls popular female villains towards the heroic side of the ledger. Sometimes the effects of all that pulling can result in some uneven and odd results.

  9. #9
    Ultimate Member Ascended's Avatar
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    Eh, I don't really see the problem. At least not a problem that's specific to Harley, what the OP is talking about is a problem with the whole industry.

    The New52 really pushed the extreme sh*t, but setting that aside Harls hasn't done much on the level of Joker. She's a villain and a psychopath and a killer, but outside of the 52, she's not the kind of monster Joker is. And the New52 is universally recognized as being a big pile of excessive crap when it comes to a lot of characters, Harls included.

    The Heroes in Crisis crap.....is just a bad story. Her beating the Trinity is stupid as hell, but no more stupid than Batman beating the entire League, or Superman taking down Darkseid on Apokolips. Bad writing happens whether you're popular or not, but the popular characters end up getting bad stories where they punch way above their weight class while the nobody's get killed to establish the stakes.
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  10. #10
    Mighty Member MoneySpider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Guy_McNichts View Post
    I'm sure this topic or something similar has come up, but I'm not sure where those threads are. I just want to throw this out there.

    I was never that into Harley Quinn as a character, but nowadays I just find her insufferable. Thinking about why she's come to bothers me so much, I realized she really went downhill when DC decided she should be "empowered" while maintaining her identity as "Joker's abused girlfriend."

    In the old cartoons and her initial comic appearances, if Harley was portrayed as an empowered figure, it was because/after she broke away from the Joker. She'd either pair up with Poison Ivy or be somewhat of an anti-hero, but either way, she was at worst mischievous.
    A villain, but a relatively harmless one you could see heroes tolerating if they found themselves forced to cooperate with her.

    But then, pretty much around the New 52, they decided Harley should be "empowered" but still "Joker's girlfriend"...which, on the face of it, seems a contradictory concept. So they decided the way to do that was by making her Joker's "equal."
    Yeah, he abuses her, but she's just as crazy and dangerous and he is, if not more crazy (stated almost verbatim in the Suicide Squad movie). In turn, her actions escalated to outright monstrous and cruel (orchestrating the deaths of hundreds of children).

    So she's a strong, empowered woman despite the Joker abusing her because it's a mutually toxic relationship and they're both awful people. And that makes it edgy, too! Right?

    And yet, despite Harley being established as just as vile and nasty as the Joker, writers still maintain her aura as a lovable, harmless villain or anti-hero with a heart of gold. I'm sure I'm not the only who sees the issue here.

    Irritatingly, it all comes across as a cynical effort by DC to make her their answer to Deadpool.
    A sexy answer, because I don't think it's a coincidence the shift in her character also came with far more revealing outfits.

    It results in a confused and inconsistent portrayal of Harley that gets hand-waved with "But she's crazy!"

    That's why she fangirls at the sight of Wonder Woman in one comic...then rolls her eyes & brushes Diana off as a lame square in another.

    It's why Harley is supposed to be a dangerous, unpredictable wild-card like the Joker...but at the same time, heroes just shrug and smile at her presence instead of twisting her head off.

    Say what you will about Deadpool, he is somewhat consistent in his morals, such as they are, and how other characters respond to him. He's a mercenary, but he has lines he won't cross and other heroes regard him as (at least) a dangerous nuisance or (at worst) a scumbag that should be put down.

    In a way, Harley is the victim of her own popularity. Fans liked the lovable clown. They liked the abuse survivor. They liked the tragedy that she kept crawling back to the Joker.
    And in response, DC gave MOAR of all of that, resulting in an obnoxious mess of a character who gets shoe-horned into stories she shouldn't be a part of, put on a level with other character she shouldn't be near, and grows more and more into a caricature of what she initially was.

    Sort of like how fans liked the notion Batman was crafty and cunning enough to beat seemingly insurmountable odds and that eventually grew into the goddamn Bat-god who can beat the entire Justice League single-handed with whatever he's got in his utility belt.

    Two cents.
    Yeah, I've got problems with Harley Quinn. She's become so popular that now DC has made changes to her. I didn't like how they put her with the "DC Superhero Girls" in the web series (she's not a superhero and should not have been hanging around Wonder Woman, Supergirl, Bumblebee, etc.) and I don't like how she was seated at the table in the Justice League headquarters in a recent Superman book. Why the Justice League would allow her into the building is beyond me.

    To me she's getting all of these opportunities because she's popular, and not necessarily because it makes any sense.
    Last edited by MoneySpider; 05-23-2020 at 06:27 PM.
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  11. #11
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    Harley's problem is that writers want to push her as an antihero but won't have her improve as a person. All of Barley's shady actions are played for laughs and she gets a free pass from other characters(who realistically would be wary or try to put her in jail) because LOL crazy and randumb.

  12. #12
    Incredible Member Gaius's Avatar
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    God, I forgot about that moment from Heroes in Crisis. Only thing more ridiculous than that was King expecting me to feel sympathy for Quinn or Poison Ivy in that story.

  13. #13
    I am BLACK GUY dreyga2000's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Guy_McNichts View Post
    But then, pretty much around the New 52, they decided Harley should be "empowered" but still "Joker's girlfriend"...which, on the face of it, seems a contradictory concept.
    To be fair. They are fixing this issue by giving Joker a "replacement girlfriend" named Punchline

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  14. #14
    Ultimate Member Lee Stone's Avatar
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    You’ll probably find the other Harley threads in the Batman forum.
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  15. #15
    Extraordinary Member Holt's Avatar
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    I'm pretty sure the entire point of Punchline was because there are a lot of fans who liked Harley as Joker's girlfriend, but now WB/DC wants to have its cake and eat it too by portraying her as a strong, independent woman.

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