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Harley Gets Heroic in Batman and Harley Quinn

Harley Gets Heroic in Batman and Harley Quinn

By Amy Ratcliffe Friday, September 1st, 2017

When Poison Ivy teams up with Floronic Man to execute a nefarious, world-threatening plan, Batman and Nightwing get desperate. Batman and Harley Quinn sees the heroically aligned Dark Knight and former Boy Wonder reach out tentative hands to ask for Harley Quinn's help. She has been Poison Ivy's best friend, after all, so it stands to reason she could assist in locating Ivy and stopping her from turning people into plants.

I don't have to tell you about the catch with this grand scheme, but I'm going to spell it out anyway. Harley isn't known for volunteering as tribute when the going gets tough. Her actions haven't put her in the hero category. But is she a villain? It's not black and white. She often falls into the nebulous territory between the two.

Batman and Harley Quinn finds Harley trying to stay out of the trouble. She's gone straight and is working a waitress gig at a questionable cafe called Superbabes, where the servers' uniforms are superhero and villain costumes. She's hiding in plain sight, which seems like a very Harley move. When Dick Grayson locates her, she's not thrilled. It doesn't help that Nightwing criticizes Harley's job and general life choices. Protip: when you need someone to do you a solid, don't take jabs at them.

Harley gets a little defensive before making an important point to Nightwing: "I'm sick of other people telling me what I am."

That quote is at the center of Batman and Harley Quinn. Harley is a character who has been through a laundry list of trauma. She's done things I can't excuse—no one can. Her ties to the Joker means that she's often assessed alongside him in the same breath, and that's not fair. She's made questionable decisions, but she doesn't deserve the same broad brush that people paint the Joker with. No wonder she's tired of the assumptions people make about her.

Harley uses Batman's request for help as a way to try to flip the preconceptions Batman and Nightwing have about her. It seems like part of the reason she temporarily teams up with them is to show she isn't necessarily what people believe her to be. She might be joining them to track Poison Ivy at least partially for the sake of appearances, but her actions have an effect on her.

It's a thing that happens when villains start doing good. They realize being selfless is a reward in and of itself. I know that sounds like a platitude, but it's true. And Harley does start to feel the warm and fuzzy glow that comes from lending a helping hand. She's been in this position before, sure, but it doesn't get old to watch her grow.

What's especially nice about her process in Batman and Harley Quinn is how nuanced it is. She doesn't have a straight line from being apathetic to making a save. That approach wouldn't work. At all. Harley takes detours—usually driven by selfish motivations. She needs a nudge and exasperated sighs from Batman and Nightwing to get back on course. But when she gets them, she figures out the right thing to do on her own.

Harley's actions are by turns amusing, wacky, nonsensical and heartwarming. So in short, quintessential Harley Quinn.

Being set in the world of DC means Batman and Harley Quinn automatically features Easter eggs. You can hunt for most of them, but I want to point out a particularly excellent one early in the movie. When Harley needs to change out of her waitress uniform, she looks into her closet. She paws through a variety of red, black and white outfits and ponders whether to dress like lolita Harley, steampunk Harley, roller babe Harley, goth Harley and other options.

All those variations of Harley Quinn have appeared in the comics and often on the bodies of talented cosplayers. The character seems to be the most popular costume choice at any comic convention I attend. I've seen more versions of Harley's iconic color scheme than I can remember, with the classic costume from Batman: The Animated Series being worn the most. Harley's reference to the variety of Harleys was a nice touch.

Have you watched Batman and Harley Quinn? Let me know in the comments what you thought about Bruce Timm’s newest animated feature.


Batman and Harley Quinn is now available on Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack, Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD and Digital HD.

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