The Evolution of Harley Quinn

I think that Batman: The Animated Series was one of the best made-for-TV cartoons ever produced.  The show featured amazing artwork, detailed storylines, and character concepts that just completely worked.  Plus, Kevin Conroy’s gravel-throated voice of Batman set the standard for future animated Batman projects.

And a character from that original TV series – the psychotic-yet-damaged Harley Quinn, voiced by Arleen Sorkin – made its debut in that TV series.  Eventually Harley Quinn became the first made-for-TV character to officially enter the Batman comic universe in nearly 40 years (the last being King Tut, a villain in the Batman 1960’s live-action series).

While the inspiration for Harley Quinn came from several Batman and Teen Titans comic books, originally appearing as a character called Joker’s Daughter – before evolving into another character, the Harlequin – this Harley Quinn was a fully-functional – if totally deranged – master criminal of her own.  The character evolved from being a one-note joke (her real identity was as a criminal psychologist named Harleen Quinzel) into a metaphor for emotional abuse, co-dependency and Stockholm Syndrome.

She would later appear in more Batman: The Animated Series episodes, including forming a criminal partnership with both the Joker and with another super-villain, Poison Ivy.  And then Harley Quinn’s popularity exploded.  She would become a regular character in Batman’s comic books, in various direct-to-video animated movies … and, as played by Margot Robbie, in the recent DC big-budget movie Suicide Squad.

The current iteration of Harley Quinn will appear as a new animated series on the DC Universe streaming subscription service, and will star Kaley Cuoco (The Big Bang Theory) as the voice of the master manipulator.  And unlike the planned – and then scrapped – animated Deadpool series, which had promised to break the fourth wall as much as Ryan Reynolds’ live-action counterpart did in the movies, this Harley Quinn series not only plans to smash the fourth wall, it plans to go full-blown Carlin on that fourth wall.

This was a teaser trailer for the series, a trailer that was dropped at last year’s New York Comic-Con.  And yes, she’s reunited with her buddy Poison Ivy.

Hey, remember when I said this show would go full Carlin?  I guess you can do that on DC Universe, considering that you’re actually PAYING for the programming … so this latest trailer, which was dropped at Comic-Con this  weekend, shows Harley Quinn and a cast of DC characters in all their foul-mouthed glory.

Hey, if nothing else, this show – plus the recently-announced second season of Doom Patrol, which is arguably the best superhero series on TV today – might be good reasons for keeping my DC Universe subscription JUST a little longer.  😀

That, plus I guess Margot Robbie’s also scheduled for a stand-alone live action Harley Quinn movie in the future, so there’s that … we’ll see how things pan out with that project.

Not bad for a one-off character that started out as an add-on in a cartoon series from 1989, eh?