The Suicide Squad’s Harley Quinn is a character of captivating contradictions. A delicate chiffon dress with bloodied combat boots. A shower of vibrant flower petals and deadly bullets. A kindhearted psychiatrist and violent villain. Could an antihero like Harley Quinn actually be a role model we can aspire to?
But we can consider a few of her qualities (the non-murdery ones) and think about how we might take a little inspiration from them in the real world. I love this version of Harley Quinn because she is fearless. Because she finds joy in things that everyone else tends to hate. And because, as unpredictable as she can be, she nevertheless brings her own brand of compassion to everyone she meets. I want to be a little—just a little—bit more like Harley Quinn.
Let’s start at the beginning. Or is it the middle? In The Suicide Squad, we see Harley Quinn with a smile on her face from the get-go. Just a few minutes later, everything literally blows up in the Squad’s faces and Harley simply shrugs and moves on with an “okey-doke.”
And that’s just the start. A princess makeover to meet a dictator? A daring escape through countless armed soldiers? A gargantuan extraterrestrial starfish? It doesn’t how matter how weird it is. Bring it on. Whether she’s fighting, flirting or floating in a pool of alien eyeball goo, Harley does it with a smile.
Naturally, no one in the real world is as fearless as Harley Quinn, so facing down certain doom with a grin is not advice I’ll be sharing here. But there is something to be said about confronting your problems instead of running away. (Seriously, Savant?) Harley Quinn ain’t got nobody and she doesn’t need nobody—especially not some Joker. She’s a self-rescuing princess, thank you very much, and there’s something we can all take away from that.
When the Suicide Squad arrives at Jotunheim to finish the big mission, the skies open to release a torrent of rain. A sudden storm is usually enough to ruin anyone’s day, but Harley closes her eyes to enjoy the moment. Her reasons are, um, her own. But that’s not a bad thing.
While none of us should delight in all of the same things Harley does—the perfect egg sandwich notwithstanding—we can all take a page out of her book and find a moment to consider our own reasons to appreciate the rain. (Even Bloodsport points out that it’s good for cover.) The next time you’re caught in a downpour or stuck sitting in traffic, just remember Harley’s angels and think of your own reason to smile.
Kill ‘Em With Kindness
You might not think of the Suicide Squad as kind souls, but even Harley Quinn brings her own brand of compassion to the team. She stays by Javelin’s side as he dies and carries his weapon as he asks, even if she’s not sure why he wants her to. She pushes Polka-Dot Man out of the way of a fiery blast. She pulls up Bloodsport from the side of a crumbling building. And then there’s, you know, the whole risking her life to save thousands of innocent people thing.
Each of these are choices Harley—and the Suicide Squad—make based on their own unique brand of kindness. Even former criminals, mercenaries and Batman super-villains can find sympathy for others. So, I hope you don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to say we can all choose to do the right thing when the time comes.
Sure, sometimes the right thing is hurling ourselves at a humungous starfish alien rampaging through the city, and other times it’s a much smaller act of kindness. Either way, I think Harley Quinn would approve.
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Kelly Knox writes about all-ages comics, movies, TV and animation for DCComics.com and her writing can also be seen on IGN, Nerdist and more. Follow her on Twitter at @kelly_knox to talk superheroes, comics and pop culture.