Harley Quinn is no longer defined by how well she can get on without the Joker, says actress Margot Robbie in an exclusive tell-all with The Toronto Sun. Like her comics counterpart, the Clown Princess of Crime has gone from codependent maniac and uncertain soloist to a strong independent woman who simply couldn’t care any less, and Robbie couldn’t be prouder. Not only is the Joker no longer relevant to her life choices, he’s out of the picture entirely.
Joker has been left behind, so to speak, like a David Ayer deleted scene ceremoniously left on the cutting room floor or a distant memory. A different life. The trauma bonds that shackled her in Suicide Squad, and powered her hesitation in Birds of Prey, have all but disintegrated in the wind. Margot Robbie is Harley Quinn, with or without a man to define her going forward.
Margot Robbie explained it this way while currently doing press junkets for The Suicide Squad with the rest of the cast:
“I think in the first Suicide Squad film she had a certain confidence and cockiness, knowing that she had the protection of the Joker. She was like, ‘I’ll go on this mission, and he’ll get me out of here in a second’ — that was kind of her prerogative on that film. Then in Birds of Prey it was, ‘Oh sh*t, it’s a scary, cold world. Maybe I can’t do it.’ In this film, time has passed, it doesn’t directly link to either of those films, but it’s not something that Harley is wrestling with anymore. She’s not waiting for Mr. J to show up and she’s not wondering if she can do it on her own. She knows.”
It’s thanks to James Gunn’s radical about-face that Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn was allowed to shed her past. Many fans attribute her character development to Birds of Prey, but recall how tentative it was, her convictions, and the road up ahead. Mid-DC Extended Universe Harley knew she needed to get out of the Joker’s hair to transcend her demons and become her own jester, but in Birds of Prey, she was only just figuring that out and didn’t know the hows. She was more like a newborn, feeling around free and actively experimenting on the world around her, than a liberated woman; the kinks haven’t been ironed out yet and she’s not quite “there.”
But in Gunn’s The Suicide Squad, she’s finally arrived. It’s not the paradise she’d hoped for, of course, but at least she was facing it as Harley Quinn, not the young Arkham Asylum psychiatrist Jared Leto’s the Joker effectively bamboozled into a life of crime. Birds of Prey was the immediate response to what happened in Suicide Squad. The dawn after the night. The James Gunn epic is thematically set years after the breakup. And here, she’s finally got “her confidence back.”
This has allowed Margot Robbie to consider other sides to Harley Quinn that were never tainted or otherwise influenced by the Joker in the first place. Things like her sexuality, or comics-accurate friendships to other characters, heroic or villainous, across the DC universe. She tells The Toronto Sun’s Mark Daniell, “To me, she has so many facets to her personality. It’s an endless thing to explore with people.” By people, Margot Robbie means the wide variety of directors and writers that have managed to give Harley Quinn their own unique spin. And this newly reborn Harley who doesn’t even require the mere mention of Batman’s nemesis is James Gunn’s.
Margot Robbie has since campaigned for other areas in Harley’s life to be reevaluated and adapted. She’s reportedly been bugging Warner Bros. executives to bring Poison Ivy to the big screen, reuniting Harley Quinn with the real love of her life. And while Birds of Prey 2 may no longer be in the works, Robbie is hoping to kickstart a Harley-led franchise that will allow her to interact with the rest of the existing multiverse.
After all, in some comics, Harley Quinn befriends even the Justice League; her contacts are not confined to only the sinister and hyper-villainous types. In fact, in Injustice: Gods Among Us, she developed a close friendship with Oliver Queen and Dinah Lance (Green Arrow and Black Canary). When Ollie was murdered by a corrupted Superman, Harley helped Dinah care for her fatherless baby. She also took a liking to Billy Batson’s alter-ego Shazam and often forced herself in his adventures.
Harley Quinn is a DC powerhouse that has managed to keep her sense of humor through years of identity confusion, domestic abuse, and transition. Margot Robbie knows her character better than anyone, and she’s right. It would be a damn shame to let her story end just as she’s finally finding herself. James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad comes out in theaters and on HBO Max on August 6.