How THE SUICIDE SQUAD's Harley Quinn Sequence Harks Back to Her Animated Past - Nerdist
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How THE SUICIDE SQUAD’s Harley Quinn Sequence Harks Back to Her Animated Past

The Suicide Squad has a lot of outrageous moments. It’s filled with the kind of scenes and sequences that’ll have you rewatching and reminiscing for a while. From King Shark dining on random strangers to Starro demolishing a city, it’s the kind of bombastic film that gives each character a scene to shine. And one of the most memorable is Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn fighting her way out of Corto Maltese dictator Silvio Luna’s palatial mansion. Not only is it a brilliantly choreographed sequence but it’s a great nod to Harley’s introduction to the DC Universe in the beloved Batman: The Animated Series.

Harley Fights Back

Harley Quinn in a poster for The Suicide Squad stands in a burst of illustrated flowers

Warner Bros.

As The Suicide Squad heads into its third act, Harley Quinn finds herself in a bit of a pickle. After murdering the President of Corto Maltese, the president’s lackeys torture her in a prison cell. Luckily, she’s encountered worse scrapes than this. Harley utilizes her quick wit and flexible limbs to fake unconsciousness and pick a lock with her toes (which Robbie actually did). It’s one step towards freedom and a truly iconic new Harley scene.

As the Mistress of Mayhem fights her way out of the palace, killing many, many henchmen, we see the world through her eyes. Instead of gore and blood we see thousands of flowers exploding from chests. She’s even accompanied by little animated birds a la Snow White or Cinderella. But there are no dresses to stitch here, only arms to break and heads to smash. And adding this little bit of surreal animated action seems like a shoutout to Harley and her cartoon origins, which Gunn is a huge fan of.

The Impact of the Animated Series on James Gunn

A still from Mad Love shows an animated Harley Quinn holding a pop gunn

Warner Bros.

During a Q&A with Nerdist and other outlets at a screening of The Suicide Squad, Gunn revealed how much the original iteration of Harley had influenced him. “I think the way she was originally written by Paul Dini in the old animated series was truly who she still is today,” Gunn explained. “I don’t think I deviate much from that. We get to see other sides, but it’s still fully that same character.” In that way it makes his choice to animate her sequence make even more sense. This is a director who loves the animated version of Harley even two decades after she first appeared. The series clearly influenced Gunn’s portrayal of Harley.

First introduced in the 1992 episode “Joker’s Favor,” Harley was intended to be nothing more than a throwaway henchie. But she soon became a stalwart recurring character. This iteration of Harley was a true agent of chaos. Joker’s right hand, sometimes love interest, and a wildcard, Harley brought a new life and vivacious lust to Gotham. Gunn wasn’t the only fan; Harley became so popular that she quickly joined the world of DC Comics too. Since then she’s become one of the publisher’s most popular characters. And her notoriety and fandom have only grown with Robbie’s radical portrayal. But even with years of comic book and film appearances under her belt, the massive impact of her animated beginnings are clear.

The Wild Animations Were Always the Plan

A still from The Suicide Squad shows Harley Quinn with flowers exploding behind her

Warner Bros. 

While the effects in The Suicide Squad were obviously added in post, the scenes were always intended this way. Talking to The Hollywood Reporter, Gunn shared that he had planned the eccentric additions since the scripting phase, and even drew the flowers and birds onto his storyboards. It’s an interesting directorial choice that pointedly references Harley’s origins and gives us another stunning Harley moment to add to the books.

The Suicide Squad is in theaters and on HBO Max now.

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