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Harley Quinn

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Harley Quinn
Harley Quinn
Information
Real name: Harleen Quinzel[1]
AKA: The Joker's Moll[2]
Thalia[3]
Species: Human
Hair: Blond (dyed),[4] White (later in life)
Eyes: Blue
Relatives: Delia Dennis (granddaughter)
Deidre Dennis (granddaughter)
Base: Gotham City
Affiliations: Joker
Poison Ivy
Rogue of: Batman, Batgirl
Abilities: Master gymnast
Toxic immunity[5]
Trained psychiatrist[4]
Weaponry: Clown-themed gadgets
Voiced by: Arleen Sorkin
32 images

"Face it, Harl, this stinks! You're a certified nutso wanted in 12 states and hopelessly in love with a psychopathic clown. At what point did my life go Looney Tunes? How did it happen? Who's to blame?... Batman, that's who. Batman! It's always been Batman! Ruining my life, spoiling my fun! Coming between me and my Puddin' from the very beginning..."[1]

Harley Quinn, real name Harleen Quinzel, was the sidekick and pseudo-girlfriend of the Joker. She occasionally struck out on her own, and often served as a roommate/accomplice to Poison Ivy.

History

Origins

Joker opens up

Joker shows Harleen Quinzel an unknown side.

Harleen Quinzel was once a career-oriented psychiatrist[4] whose life took a radical turn when she chose to spend a semester interning at Arkham Asylum. Upon meeting Dr. Joan Leland for the first time, the more senior doctor warned the eager and vastly inexperienced Harleen to be careful around the inmates. Originally drawn to the "glamor" of the inmates, she was unexpectedly intrigued by the Joker. She organized regular therapy sessions with him, during which the Joker manipulated the inexperienced Harleen by telling her tales of a cruel father and an abusive childhood, mixed in with his early attempts at comedy. He made her laugh as much as he made her cry, and she fell hopelessly in love with him largely based on sympathy.

After Joker's latest escape and re-capture by Batman, Quinzel went insane and adopted the clownish persona of Harley Quinn; her first act was to break Joker out again.[1] Thereafter she was his semi-constant companion and lover. She occasionally broke away from him, but always ended up going back to him in the end. For the Joker's part, while he had found her to be an annoyance some of the time, he was able to skillfully manipulate her to serve his needs.

Criminal career

Harley's first act was to assist Joker in assassinating James Gordon, by planting a bomb at his testimonial dinner. Batman subdued her after a brief fight. After that, she was an accomplice in virtually all of Joker's criminal schemes.[6]

Sometimes, she would be kicked out of the gang when Joker's temper got the better of him. On one of these occasions, she teamed up with Poison Ivy, and the two became close friends and a successful crime duo.[5]

During one of her solitary stints in Arkham, Batman offered her a pardon if she would help him track down Joker, who had stolen a nuclear bomb. She did so, though in a crazy, roundabout way that ended up being almost as dangerous to Batman and Robin.[4]

After being pronounced rehabilitated by the doctors at Arkham, Harley was paroled, but her hyperactive personality and unfamiliarity with the "real" world led to an avalanche of trouble that led to her unintentionally kidnapping Veronica Vreeland and being simultaneously pursued by Batman, Gotham gangsters, and the U.S. Army. She was returned to Arkham yet again, though Batman was more sympathetic to her, understanding how bad a day gone wrong could be.[7]

Unfortunately, Harley did not have much luck at being rehabilitated again and eventually returned to being the Joker's girl. However, after an incident involving Commissioner Gordon was botched, Harley began to re-examine her life. Realizing in a crazed manner that Batman was the cause of Joker's obsession and insanity, Harley devised a plan to capture him. Much to the surprise of Batman and the Joker, her plan not only worked, but according to Batman was more likely to kill him than anything the Joker had ever devised before. However, Batman managed to escape by convincing Harley to call the Joker for approval, knowing the Joker would be furious at the idea of anyone other than him killing that Dark Knight.

As expected, Joker was furious and threw Harley out of a window, nearly killing her and released Batman. Recovering in Arkham, Harley at last realized the Joker would never love truly her and was nothing more than an insane killer. However, she returned back to her hapless devotion to him, upon seeing a single rose in a vase from him by her bedside table with a note wishing her well and a speedy recovery.

Harley later claimed that she and Joker had been to couples counseling. It didn't seem to help much, however, as it didn't take long for Batman to convince her that Joker was replacing her with Ace as his new sidekick. Enraged, Harley went to confront her "puddin'", who of course, immediately sweet-talked her back over to his side. Then he viciously backhanded her because she unwittingly led Batman right to his lair, which was the Dark Knight's plan all along.[8]

Later life

Harley's final act assisting Joker was in capturing and torturing Robin into insanity, then adopting him as their "son", J.J. While Batman pursued Joker, Harley fought with Batgirl in the ruins of Arkham. In the fight, both women toppled into a deep pit. Batgirl managed to grab hold of a ledge, and tried to pull Harley up, but her sleeve tore, and Harley seemingly fell to her death.[9]

Harley as a grandmom

"Break a grandmother's heart! I hope they throw the book at you!"

With no body ever recovered, Barbara Gordon suspected that Harley may have survived, but she never resurfaced again. Without the Joker around, she apparently gave up her criminal career and, at some point, mothered or adopted one or more children, who in turn gave her at least two grandchildren, the twins Delia and Deirdre Dennis. After getting arrested for assisting the returned Joker in his plan to control a weapons satellite, the twins were chastised for what disappointments they were by their "Nana Harley".[9]

Relationships

Relationship with the Joker

Harley's relationship with Joker was perhaps one of the strangest in the whole character universe. At various times, she explained her feelings for him as sympathy for his abusive childhood (a story Batman dismissed as a lie), tender feelings based on their therapy sessions, or simply that he made her life fun, after a stressful career as a psychiatrist.

Her devotion was inexplicable because Joker seemed to return her feelings not at all, and frequently insulted and abused her. Occasionally she would break away from him, but these moments of clarity never lasted very long, and but a moment's kindness from Joker was enough to bring her back.[5][1][4]

Yet at the same time, Joker found her a useful accomplice at times, and was often surprised by the depth of her devotion. At one point, he actually seemed to feel affection for her, after she demonstrated that she had enough "guts" to try to shoot him.[4]

Relationship with others

Harley and Ivy

Harley and Ivy, out to have a little fun.

Harley had an on-again, off-again friendship/partnership with Poison Ivy, whom she worked well with. Poison Ivy has always had a soft-spot for Harley, often stating that that Quinn has no need for Joker. However, Harley never seemed to accept that Ivy was right, and would often obsess over him. This along, with her flaky personality would often cause Ivy great annoyance, but never to the point that she would sever ties with Harley.

Harley's feelings toward Batman were similarly conflicted. Most of the time, he was her enemy, which was natural given that he was Joker's enemy. Sometimes, she even blamed Batman for Joker's abusiveness toward her, feeling that Batman's interference was what kept them from living a "normal" life.

Yet on one occasion, she recognized that Batman was one of the few people who didn't think she was hopelessly insane, and who had done his best to help her.[7] Ironically, Harley was able to do the one thing Joker never could: Make Batman laugh.[1]

Harley was the primary caretaker for Bud and Lou, the pair of hyenas the Joker owned, whom she affectionately referred to as her "babies".

Abilities and equipment

Harley Quinn possessed above-average agility and fighting skills. She was an Olympic-level gymnast and acrobat.

Harley also carried an assortment of clown-themed tools, although they rarely proved effective.[4] One of her signature weapons is an oversized wooden mallet which she swings around with surprising skill despite its unwieldy appearance. Another weapon in her arsenal is an oversized revolver with a cork in the barrel. The cork usually contains ropes to tie people up or knockout gas.

Unlike the Joker, Harley could also act sane long enough to appear in disguise as a "normal" person. (She even got paroled from Arkham Asylum once.) Harley's impersonations included a security guard[6] and a lawyer.[10] Due to Harley's charisma and psychiatric training, she is also adept at psychologically manipulating others.

Early in their partnership, Poison Ivy injected Harley with a toxin antidote, which rendered her immune to certain chemicals and diseases,[5] and had the side effect of enhancing her strength and stamina, allowing her to survive normally fatal accidents.[1][9]

Background information

Harley Quinn was created by Bruce Timm and Paul Dini, based on (and created for) Dini's friend Arleen Sorkin, who provided the character's voice.[11] "Remarkably", Dini jokes, "she still speaks to me".

The character was so popular that she was eventually incorporated into the DC Comics universe.

There is some conflicting continuity about Harley's origins. Some episodes of Batman: The Animated Series such as "Harlequinade" describe her as a serious clinical psychiatrist who was "rescued" from her boring life by Joker. However "Mad Love", the first full exploration of Harley's origins, portray her as more flaky, whose career as a psychiatrist was still undeveloped when she fell for Joker. Some details of "Mad Love" are fleshed out in the comic the episode is based on, also written by Dini and Timm.

Of Harley's relationship with the Joker, Dini writes:

Bruce, Eric, Alan and I agreed that while we never wanted to delve too deeply into the rotting offal that passes as the Joker's soul, we did want to broaden the character a bit. One way we humanized the least human of Batman's enemies was to put him in a relationship with a woman who, for whatever reasons, adores him.


Mark Hamill added:

Expressing emotion in any way that's real and meaningful is alien to the Joker, but he's learning those parts of himself, however unconsciously, through Harley. On a physical level they're dynamite together. A lot of relationships are defined by that. Two people may be really horrible for each other, but physically they push each other's buttons so clearly they can't get enough of that person.


Says Arleen Sorkin:

Everyone else sees the Joker laugh, only Harley has ever seen him cry. It's the only reason she stays with him.


The producers have confirmed that it was Poison Ivy's stamina inducer that allowed Harley to survive the falls in "Mad Love" and Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker and to survive into old age.

Film director Kevin Smith (Clerks, Chasing Amy, Dogma) was so taken with the character that he named his newborn daughter Harley Quinn Smith.

Trivia

  • During the episode "The Man Who Killed Batman", Sorkin actually performed Harley's "Amazing Grace" on a kazoo herself. The producers gave her a kazoo and asked her to give it a try while recording the episode. Later they said it was lucky they'd managed to do it in one take, because they were all helpless with laughter as soon as she'd finished.
  • Harley also appears in the non-DCAU series "The Batman" and "Batman: The Brave And The Bold", voiced by Hynden Walch (who voiced Ace) and Meghan Strange, respectively.
  • Arleen Sorkin returned to the role of Harley Quinn for the video games DC Universe Online and Batman: Arkham Asylum (not in continuity with the DCAU). In Arkham Asylum, Harley sports a different appearance to her traditional jester's outfit look, wearing what appears to be a modified nurse's uniform, though her jester's cap can be found on a dummy head in her old office. Harley also appears in the sequel Batman: Arkham City, and the prequel Batman: Arkham Origins (as Harleen Quinzel), but with Tara Strong providing her voice instead. In Arkham City, figurines of Harley in her traditional jester outfit are scattered throughout the Steel Mill (where Joker and Harley are originally hiding out) and have speakers in the over-sized heads that allow Harley to communicate through them.

Appearances

Batman: The Animated Series

Superman: The Animated Series

The New Batman Adventures

Batman Beyond

Feature film

Gotham Girls

Static Shock

Justice League

See also

Footnotes

External links

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