HARLEY QUINN CHARACTER PROFILE
Harley Quinn, a character that started as a one-off appearance in an episode of Batman: The Animated Series, has evolved into one of the most beloved and iconic characters in the DC Universe. From her beginnings as the Joker‘s sidekick to her transformation into an independent anti-hero, Harley Quinn’s journey has been a fascinating ride.
|REAL NAME||Harleen Frances Quinzel|
|CREATED BY||Paul Dini (Writer)|
Bruce Timm (Artist)
|FIRST APPEARANCE||Batman: The Animated Series (September, 1992)|
|ABILITIES||Great stamina and agility|
THE ORIGINS OF HARLEY QUINN
Harley Quinn was created by Paul Dini and Bruce Timm for the 1992 Batman: The Animated Series episode entitled “Joker’s Favor”. Initially intended to appear in just one episode, the character’s unique charm and charisma quickly caught the attention of the show’s producers, who decided to expand her role. Harley Quinn was designed as a humorous and unpredictable henchwoman for the Joker.
Harley Quinn Life Size Bust (Suicide Squad) Infinity Studio
Prime 1 Studios – Harley Quinn (Deluxe Edition) Statue
Harleen Frances Quinzel was once a promising psychiatrist with a keen interest in the criminal mind. She pursued a psychiatric medical degree at Gotham City University, where she developed her skills in gymnastics, which would later account for her impressive acrobatic abilities as Harley Quinn. After completing her residency at Blackgate Prison, Harleen interned at Arkham Asylum, where she encountered the twisted and manipulative Joker.
During her sessions with the Joker, Harleen’s empathy and professional interest in her patient turned into an unhealthy obsession, eventually leading her to fall in love with him. She helped him escape from confinement, taking on her own criminal identity as Harley Quinn. From that point on, Harley’s life was irrevocably tied to the Joker, as she became a violent and unpredictable force whose main motivation was to gain his approval.
Inspiration and Design
The name “Harley Quinn” is a play on the word “Harlequin”, a stock character from the 16th-century Italian theater commedia dell’arte. This character was known for its colorful and eccentric attire, which served as inspiration for Harley Quinn’s signature red and black bodysuit. The character’s design also borrowed elements from the Joker‘s appearance, such as the ruffled collar and jester hat, creating a cohesive and visually striking look.
Early Appearances and Relationship with the Joker
Harley Quinn’s early appearances in Batman: The Animated Series and subsequent comic book adaptations focused primarily on her role as the Joker’s sidekick and love interest. Her devotion to the Joker was both her greatest strength and her greatest weakness, as she often found herself manipulated and abused by the cruel and unpredictable villain. Despite this, her love for the Joker remained unwavering, and she continued to assist him in his criminal endeavors.
Alliance with Poison Ivy and Catwoman
In later story arcs, Harley Quinn began to forge relationships with other characters in the DC Universe, most notably fellow supervillains Poison Ivy and Catwoman. These alliances allowed her to break free from the Joker’s control and establish herself as a formidable criminal in her own right. In the Gotham City Sirens series, Harley Quinn, Poison Ivy, and Catwoman formed an unstable partnership, wreaking havoc throughout Gotham City while also grappling with their own personal demons.
The New 52 and Suicide Squad
In 2011, DC Comics underwent a line-wide reboot known as The New 52, which reintroduced Harley Quinn with a new personality, design, and origin story. This version of the character was darker and more dangerous, with a revealing new costume that replaced her iconic jester outfit. Harley Quinn also became a core member of the Suicide Squad, a team of villains forced to work as covert operatives for the government in exchange for reduced prison sentences.
Independence and Redemption
Harley Quinn’s transformation into an anti-hero continued with her second ongoing series in 2013, written by Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti. In this series, Harley Quinn moves to her hometown of Brooklyn and starts a new life in Coney Island, free from the influence of the Joker and other villains. This lighthearted and humorous take on the character allowed her to develop further as an independent character, with new friends, enemies, and adventures.
Appearances in the Batman Arkham Games
BATMAN ARKHAM ORIGINS
Although Harley Quinn did not have a significant role in Batman: Arkham Origins, her presence in the game served as a crucial link to her transformation into the notorious villainess. As the young and innocent Dr. Harleen Quinzel, she became infatuated with the Joker during their sessions at Blackgate Prison, setting the stage for her eventual descent into madness.
In Arkham Origins, Harleen’s appearance was markedly different from her later iterations, with a more professional demeanor and attire befitting her role as a psychiatrist. Her interactions with the Joker hinted at the dark path she would soon follow, as she became increasingly captivated by his twisted mind.
BATMAN ARKHAM ASYLUM
Harley Quinn made her first appearance in the critically acclaimed game Batman: Arkham Asylum. In this installment, Harley had taken over the asylum, releasing Joker’s henchmen and taking control of the facility. Sporting a nurse-like outfit with a red, white, black, and purple color scheme, Harley’s role in the game was primarily to serve as a foil to Batman and a loyal accomplice to the Joker.
Throughout the game, Harley displayed surprising strength, stamina, and superior gymnastic skills. As the Joker’s right-hand woman, she was a homicidal psychotic with a total disregard for human life, making her an unpredictable and dangerous opponent for the Dark Knight.
BATMAN ARKHAM CITY
In Batman: Arkham City, Harley’s role expanded as she returned to aid the Joker in his plans to take control of the new mega-prison, Arkham City. Her appearance in this game was notably darker and more militant than in Arkham Asylum, reflecting her changing personality and the strain of the Joker’s worsening health.
Despite her unwavering loyalty to the Joker, Harley displayed moments of independence and cunning throughout the game, proving to be a formidable adversary for Batman. Her relationship with the Joker remained tumultuous and abusive, yet Harley’s devotion to him never wavered.
BATMAN ARKHAM KNIGHT
In the final installment of the Arkham series, Batman: Arkham Knight, Harley Quinn’s role was further expanded and her character development reached new depths. Following the death of the Joker in Arkham City, Harley was left heartbroken and vengeful, taking on a more militant and ruthless persona as she sought to avenge her lover’s demise.
Throughout the game, Harley displayed a more assertive and independent nature, even as she continued to mourn the loss of the Joker. Her alliance with Scarecrow and other villains in the game showcased her growing influence and power within the criminal underworld, as she emerged as a force to be reckoned with on her own terms. She was also in control of what remained of Joker’s henchmen.
Prior to the events of Batman Arkham Knight, she was willing to commit suicide and take several members of the GCPD, as well as the vigilantes Batman and Robin with her. All to complete the task of eliminating their long-time rivals and ultimately be reunited with the Joker. Unfortunately for her it never worked. Her attempts resulted in zero casualties but the Steel Mill was a destroyed mess due to the many hidden explosives that were planted inside.
HARLEY QUINN: STORY PACK (DLC)
As a playable character in Batman: Arkham Knight, Harley Quinn boasted her own unique gameplay mechanics and abilities that set her apart from other characters in the series. With her exceptional agility, acrobatic prowess, and an arsenal of deadly weapons at her disposal, Harley was a formidable opponent in both combat and stealth scenarios.
One of Harley’s most distinctive gameplay features was her Psychosis Mode, a unique variation of Detective Mode that showcased her unstable mental state. In Psychosis Mode, the screen turned red and cryptic writings appeared on the walls, providing insight into Harley’s twisted psyche. Additionally, Harley’s combat style was agile and brutal, incorporating her signature baseball bat and a variety of other weapons to devastating effect.
The content itself featured Harley working for the Penguin and trying to rescue Poison Ivy who had been placed inside of a cell over at the Bludhaven Police Department.
One of the names that Harley Quinn got at the start of her creation into the DC Comics was Columbine.
However, the team eventually settled with Harley Quinn when they decided to keep it in line with the other Batman characters, being puns.
In the December 2000 comic book series, written by Karl Kessel, the series tells the story of Harley breaking up with the Joker. In order to become a solo criminal and form the Quinntets. However, the series was underwhelming and the sales were poor. The year of 2003 marked its cancellation. It also saw very few appearances of the ‘crazed harlequin’ in further comics that then followed. She later returned in 2009.
Harley Quinn makes up one of the first set of characters to be playable in the 2024 Rocksteady title, Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League.
The cover of the first issue of New 52’s Suicide Squad drew controversy for having an oversexualized depiction of Harley Quinn. Due to this an art contest took place. This was then met with further controversy when a picture was revealed of Harley committing suicide in a bathtub. It was related to the fourth scenario of the comic book series. When it was eventually released, the scene was removed and replaced with her riding on a rocket.