On May 30, Warner Bros. released the cover art and announced the release date (August 15) of the upcoming animated movie “Batman and Harley Quinn.” The premise is that Poison Ivy and the Floronic Man undertake a plan to save the earth that involves destroying most of humankind. Batman and Nightwing learn of the duo’s plot and recruit Harley Quinn in order to foil their nefarious plans.
There are three things that I must state up-front in the spirit of full disclosure. The first is that I don’t like comic stories/characters that rely on campiness. The second is that I don’t like the Harley Quinn character. The third is that I lean towards a more traditional approach to the Batman (if such a thing is possible for someone who has read comics since the early ‘80s). I assume that you now understand my lackluster reaction to the movie announcement.
Mary Ellen Thomas, the Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Vice President of Family and Animation Marketing, said “In this all-new movie, we give Harley Quinn the starring role she deserves […].” There is only one reason that Harley deserves a starring role, and that is her inexplicable popularity. Granted, popularity is a fantastic reason for a starring role, since the definition of “popular” equates to quite a good metric for determining headliners and potential profit margin. However, the character is boring.
My use of “inexplicable” is the key word. I just don’t understand why Harley Quinn has such a following. The character lacks depth beyond her origin story. I see her as failed recipe: combine the Florence Nightingale effect with the Stockholm syndrome, shake violently, electrocute a handful of times, shake some more, burn, then pour. Voilà! Meet a one-dimensional character. Her job solely consists of eye-rolling dialogue and acting as Joker’s sidekick so that there can be a true dichotomous relationship with Batman and whoever his sidekick happens to be at the time.
My “traditionalist” view of the Batman makes it is hard for me to envision a scenario in which he would compromise his values and partner with a psychotic murderer, especially considering Harley’s relationship with Joker. An aspect of Batman’s appeal is that he refuses to compromise. He will take a different path, often more difficult, so that he doesn’t compromise his core values. Harley Quinn embodies everything that he hates. She willingly performs actions that are in direct contradiction to the Batman’s value system. Even the threat of humanity’s destruction doesn’t convince me that Batman would make such a choice.
The movie may be good. I hope that it’s good and many people enjoy it. Most likely, I won’t watch it, choosing instead to contemplate when Bruno will make her appearance in Batman’s regular continuity.
You can watch the trailer on DC’s website here.
Or, sit back in your hammock and just click “play” below: