Harley Quinn, Actress: Her Characterization in “Suicide Squad”

While Suicide Squad wasn’t the best movie of the year, I really enjoyed it and found Harley Quinn’s character to be the most interesting in the movie. Margot Robbie did a great job of unleashing her sweet, bubbly, half-mad personality.

harley quinn gif.gifNot knowing a ton about the character of Harley Quinn from the comics, I analyzed her character from Suicide Squad to get a sense of what she might be like. Obviously this is just one version of her, so I’d love to hear more about her from the comics and other sources. But for now, here are three scenes from Suicide Squad that gave me insight into this particular characterization of her — as someone in love who knows how to act.

Harley Quinn’s Baptism

tumblr_o18h2v7NjM1v3fd5go7_500.gifThe first scene involves Harley Quinn jumping into a vat of chemicals for the Joker. At the start of the scene, she is full-on Harleen Quinzel, M.D. — a pair of glasses and all. She stands with the Joker in some sort of factory-like place, where the Joker tells her to jump. She takes off her glasses and does. The Joker is about to leave her there, but at the last second, he kind of sighs and jumps in after her — like he can’t quite shake her off. Lifting her out of the chemicals — some sort of liquid, milky goo that can’t be acid — he gives her a kiss.

This whole scene is reminiscent of a baptism. It’s when Harleen becomes Harley. It’s when she shows the Joker that she is willing to do absolutely anything for him — even die.

Playing the Crowd

suicide-squad-behind-the-scenes-harley-quinn-13.jpgThe Harley Quinn we see in Suicide Squad is playful, innocent, and flirtatious. She wears pigtails with revealing clothes. She’s friendly and sweet, but hardly the “dumb blonde” cliche. You might think she’s genuinely deranged, but there are hints that she knows exactly what she’s doing to get her way.

An interesting scene for me is when Harley believes the Joker has died in a helicopter explosion. We see her grieving, upset, on top of a car. But as soon as the rest of the Suicide Squad shows up, she smiles, throws up her hands, and tells everybody how much she missed them. It doesn’t quite fool them — they express their condolences for her loss of the Joker — but her actions offer some insight into how she plays the crowd and hides parts of herself from others (especially the parts people might not like).

And if she can play the part of playful and crazy Harley Quinn so well, does that mean it’s just a role she’s assuming?

Dreams of Family Life

Toward the end of the movie, the Enchantress shows each of the Suicide Squad members their deepest desires, promising them they can live them out if they join her. Harley Quinn’s dream is her looking fresh and “normal” — not the pigtailed Harley Quinn style, but the cleaned-up version of herself — in a kitchen with two kids and the Joker kissing her good bye before going to work. It’s the traditional family scene. Her reaction to the dream is to exclaim, “He married me!” as if she can’t quite believe such an amazing thing could happen.

Suicide-SquadI believe this shows Harley Quinn’s love for the Joker as well as her desire for an “everyday” life. She may have transformed from a woman who had it together — a great career, fantasies of becoming a wife and mother — to crazy Harley Quinn, but that doesn’t mean her old self is totally gone.

When I first saw this fantasy of hers, I kind of rolled my eyes at how cliche it is. However, the more I thought about it, the more I appreciated the insight it provides into Harley’s true character. She hasn’t squashed her old dreams, however “normal” they may be. Being in love with the Joker, she has become someone he can love too — but there is still a side of Harleen Quinzel that wants a family life.

I believe she is playing a role to get what she wants most, and that’s the Joker.

— Ashley

7 thoughts on “Harley Quinn, Actress: Her Characterization in “Suicide Squad””

  1. I agree!! Though the movie wasn’t as good as I thought it was going to be, I really enjoyed Margot Robbie’s performance as Harley Quinn, and I hope to see more of her as Harley in future DC movies!!

  2. Really nice write-up.I think you’d really enjoy diving deeper into the source material and learning more about Harley. But hey, do you ever share your articles on any film or gaming sites? And if not, would you be interested?

    1. Yeah, I would love to read some comics about Harley now. And I do write articles for other sites sometimes! I actually just got done writing a post for another site. You can shoot me a DM on Twitter or an e-mail (roboheartbeat @, no spaces) if you have something in mind. :)

  3. I agree on that last bit. She wants the man in Joker more than anything. Which has me thinking. Even as Quinn, is there a part of her that’s still a shrink. Perhaps she became Quinn to turn Joker normal?

      1. Exactly. Nobody really knows what goes on inside her head. It’s like you said, she knows what she’s doing. And she’d “die” for the Joker. Then, at the end, she dreams of a regular family, no a mini circus.

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