Having a robust continuity could make a narrative really feel grander, however it will probably additionally bind a narrative’s potential to the boundaries of a longtime and never-changing canon. And the hilarious, exhilarating continuity of Harley Quinn, DC Universe’s unique cartoon collection, has made it one of many freshest superhero TV reveals of the last decade.
Harley Quinn tells the story of how psychiatrist-turned-villain Harleen Quinzel breaks up together with her long-time romantic curiosity, the Joker, and units out to seek out her place amongst Gotham City’s villains and heroes. In the primary season, we adopted Harley as she shaped her personal crew of villains and tried to affix the Legion of Doom.
[Ed. observe: This piece accommodates spoilers for Harley Quinn season 2.]
Season 2, with its finale airing this weekend, targeted on Harley realizing that she may not be supervillain materials in spite of everything — although that’s after she murders a number of the greatest gamers in Batman’s rogues’ gallery. With these deaths, the collection revealed that it’s content material to carve out its personal nook of the DC Multiverse, with knives if obligatory.
“That was always kind of granted to us by DC,” co-creator and showrunner Patrick Schumacker advised Polygon. “Deviating from the bigger continuity was at all times part of the present. We took sure characters in a really totally different path, like Commissioner Gordon, and within the first season we killed Jason Praxis, who isn’t by any stretch of the creativeness a significant character. But the primary season was popular with each basic audiences, in addition to internally, with the executives at Warner Brothers and DC Universe actually digging the present. [We realized] we might begin killing main characters in season 2 with out actually operating into any form of opposition.”
Warner Bros. tends to maintain its DC characters on a decent leash in its tv variations. Smallville was not allowed to have Batman or Wonder Woman in its story, whereas the Arrowverse was solely lately allowed to include Superman, and Batman solely appeared within the Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover (and even then, solely in an alternate universe). As Suicide Squad neared its premiere, the Arrowverse reveals suddenly executed all of the characters that would seem within the film, like Deadshot and Amanda Waller.
Warner Bros.’ animation doesn’t appear to have this downside, nevertheless, as Young Justice and the Justice League cartoons used a whole bunch of DC characters large and small. In Harley Quinn, it’s not simply Batman and Wonder Woman who present up, however virtually any supervillain you possibly can title, proper as much as Apokolips — and plenty of of them die hilariously horrific deaths.
“We were told from the start that this could be our own thing,” co-creator and showrunner Justin Halpern advised us. “Our whole pitch on this show was, ‘Villains are bad guys.’ They probably say bad things when they’re not in the middle of a battle or a fight, they probably do bad things. Our stories are going to come from the moments in between all the scenes and movies, and so we were given carte blanche with the villains, for the most part. Occasionally, when we messed with a superhero too much, we might get a little pushback, but for the most part, we had carte blanche because we focused on the villains.”
And Harley Quinn’s second season took nice benefit of that freedom. In the premiere, the Joker brutally murdered the Scarecrow. Shortly after, Harley’s quest for vengeance lead her to kill a handful of the largest and best-known Batman villains, like Mr. Freeze and The Penguin.
Killing of fan-favorite characters doesn’t robotically make the present good, but it surely has allowed Harley Quinn to have one thing few superhero reveals or films have: penalties. When Joker destroyed Gotham City on the finish of Season 1, the federal government declared the town a no man’s land. When Penguin is killed, Two-Face fills the facility vacuum and takes over Gotham. It permits the present to inform its personal story by itself phrases, even when it may not be precisely the continuity you already know from the comics or the flicks.
In truth, many of the characters in Harley Quinn are a bit of totally different than what audiences are used to. Kite Man, as an example, turned a totally fleshed-out character within the present — one which extra carefully resembles the tragicomic determine of Tom King’s Batman run.
“We always wanted to have a character serve as a stand-in for a male supervillain with an irrational amount of confidence they did not deserve,” Halpern advised us. “He simply has a kite, and he thinks he has superpowers, he says it to Ivy a few dozen occasions. And for us, utilizing Kite Man and Dr. Psycho is a chance to play with characters that signify these two totally different archetypes of poisonous masculinity. Psycho is that this unapologetic misogynist, whereas Kite Man is somebody who has purchased into the societal concept of what it means to be a bad-ass dude. Then, over the course of Harley Quinn, we present how Psycho’s redemption is fake, as a result of he by no means tried to broaden his views and easily reverts again to all his flaws. Kite Man, I feel, goes on a little bit of an emotional journey that broadens his concept of happiness and what it means to be a dude.”
For Mister Freeze, the present’s employees pulled from the pun-obsessed villain performed by Arnold Schwarzenegger in Batman & Robin, and the model of the character from Batman: The Animated Series. It and in addition acknowledged the New 52 model of the character, which painted Freeze as obsessive about a random lady, as a substitute being pushed to villainy to avoid wasting his spouse’s life.
“There’s a negative reaction to be had to this idea of a mad genius who freezes his own wife and keeps her half-dead to hopefully save her one day,” Schumacker defined. “We have a lot of female writers on staff, and we all talked about what this would really be like from the perspective of his wife, and from the perspective of other female characters that would learn about this story. It all sounds kind of creepy, and maybe it is. But at the end of the day, he did genuinely love her, which was one of the darkest jokes that we’ve told in the show, that Harley showed up and essentially kills Freeze with noble intentions, before Nora reveals that she gave her husband permission to do this.”
But possibly the present’s greatest additive contribution to the DC canon is the Joker’s new girlfriend. Season 2 noticed the Joker with amnesia, holding down a gentle bartending job, relationship a nurse, and doting on her two kids. And that doesn’t change when the Joker inevitably regains his recollections — Harley Quinn has the killer clown determine to stick with his girlfriend and her household, acknowledging that there could be extra to his life than an obsession with Batman.
“And our feeling on the Joker was that he’s such a big character that you can’t really have him be in a little bit of the show. He’s either in the show or he’s not in the show at all, because he kind of takes over it when he’s in it,” Halpern stated. “So we kept him out of the story for the first few episodes of the season. Then we asked ourselves, ‘What is the most interesting way to use him that we haven’t really seen before?’ And this idea that he would gain some perspective by being a suburban dad was really funny to us, and something we hadn’t seen before with Joker. So we decided to have him be somebody who can actually provide some perspective for Harley because of these new experiences he’s had, without fundamentally changing who the Joker is.”
Indeed, although the Joker’s final look this season appeared like a conclusion to his story, with the Clown Prince of Crime deciding that his life along with his girlfriend was value preventing for, it doesn’t imply he renounced crime. One of the final issues he says to Harley is “Lots of dads are serial killers.” It manages to go away the door open to extra Joker tales, whereas offering correct closure to Harley and Joker’s story and relationship.
This form of factor is what Harley Quinn does finest. It carves out its personal little nook of the DC Universe the place it’s free to lovingly maim, kill, and make enjoyable of each character we all know and love.