It’s obvious that the hype surrounding SUICIDE SQUAD will have everybody drooling over the relationship between Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) and The Joker (Jared Leto), so, let us comic book fans address the big old elephant in the room. Yes, I have seen the movie “Suicide Squad’ and the object of Harley’s obsession is of course THE JOKER, blah blah.
The Joker – clown prince of crime, arch nemesis of Batman and an agent of chaos best known for his purple three-piece suit and insidious smile. Although he has caused Batman more suffering than any other villain in his Rogues Gallery, the Joker’s origin, name and true motivation remains a mystery.
Harleen Francis Quinzel, aka Harley Quinn, a creation of by Paul Dini and Bruce Timm, first appeared in American Comic Books in 1992 “Batman; The Animated Series.”
I’m sure everyone is aware that she’s not just the Joker’s partner in crime but also his love interest. Quinzel, then a gymnast and psychiatry student working in Arkham, volunteered to analyze the Joker in a number of one-on-one sessions intended to help rehabilitate him, but as we are soon to discover it is the Joker conducting sessions with Quinzel. Before too long Quinzel finds herself charmed by the Joker and he brainwashes her into believing that he is simply misunderstood. Quinzel begins to sympathize with him and ultimately actively aids in his escape. She blindly follows the Jokers lead in the name of “love” however twisted it may be. It doesn’t matter what universe you’re reading Harley and the Joker are drawn to each other.
Harley is definitely not a saint, but her story is one that is inexorably linked to abuse, mental illness and psychopathy. Although we, the comic reading public, wear the t-shirts depicting the perfect couple, there is nothing remotely romantic, attractive or healthy about a psychopathic, abusive, manipulative, violent egomaniac dating an emotionally damaged, equally psychopathic and violent woman. Batman and Catwoman have their moments, but it’s nothing remotely close to the dysfunction of the Joker and Harley’s relationship.
Did Suicide Squad adequately convey the complexity dysfunctionality and of their relationship? I maintain it most definitely did not. Then again, how could one distill that sort of relationship within the limited confines of a 2-hour movie, particularly when their relationship was relegated to the role of subplot?
What I question is how audiences can romanticize a relationship in which one party is portrayed as being both physically and mentally abused, and actually embracing that abuse by actively attempting to return to that abuser? Sadly, this is all too familiar a story, albeit not to the same extreme level depicted in the Harley-Joker relationship
We need to be cognizant of the number of real life abusive, dysfunctional relationships, and not glorify unhealthy and dangerous extreme versions of these in our entertainment
Yes, we are attracted to the villains of Suicide Squad because they remind us that if super villains can have a shot at redemption then so can we. But in real life, remember if someone hits or otherwise abuses you once they will likely try it again.
My point is that the Joker’s behavior is evidence that he does not care about Harley at all. If you really care about someone the last thing you ask is if they would die for you and the last thing you would do is put them in dangerous situations. I honestly think the Joker cares more about Batman than he does to Harley.
Whether or not this relationship is worth cheering for is for each of you to decide.
If you or someone you know is suffering from physical, emotional, or verbal abuse from relationship partner, you can call the National Domestic Violence hotline at 1-800-787-33224