The word “geek” used to be a bit of an insult when I was growing up. It insinuated you had no social skills and nothing of interest to say. Well, now it’s a great time to be a geek. The geek culture has become mainstream and it seems more taboo not to be familiar with Marvel and DC characters. I receive gasps when I let someone know I’ve only seen a handful of movies from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which includes only the last two of The Avengers movies. I’ve seen some and enjoyed them, but I’m just not into all the characters. DC has always been more intriguing to me as lately, they feel more like an underdog. The theatrical adaptations from the last few years have not received the warmest of welcomes (think Batman v Superman). The direction some of these movies go is questionable, but we still root for success.
The biggest surprise came with the under-utilized Wonder Woman, giving DC props for giving the world our first successful female superhero on the big screen. Merchandise and marketing pushed her to the front after its success and Gal Gadot is now a superstar that DC will continue to pursue. Further evidence of her success is that even Batman is getting recast and rebooted during this phase. Superman is questionable, but Gadot has been a success since she flew onto the silver screen.
It’s through these attempts that fans got to experience a live-action Harley Quinn for the first time in Suicide Squad. The film was released to mixed reactions, but a constant argument was how underutilized Harley Quinn was in the film. Margot Robbie was getting big and this could have been her stepping stone into the geek universe. Fortunately, her talent was used in other award-winning films like I, Tonya and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Robbie saw the potential and grabbed her producer hat to give us Birds of Prey, a female-led action-comedy where Harley was front and center along with lesser-known female comic book characters. Each was given their share of the narrative and were allowed to be badasses in a rare R-rated comic book adaptation.
DC has decided to try another way to get their media out there with the DC Universe app, providing original programming, both animated and live-action, along with access to their comic catalog. One of its current selling points is the animated series, HARLEY QUINN.
HARLEY QUINN continues her run as a profanity driven heart-broken character attempting to find her place in a male-driven world. Like Birds of Prey, she is broken from the Joker and wants to make a name for herself. In this case, Harley will do what it takes to be the ultimate villain so she can join the infamous Legion of Doom, a group of baddies like Joker and Two-Face who are the most feared. It’s in this group Harley feels she will be validated and maybe even gain back whom she considers the love of her life. During season one, we get mostly a villain of the week structure along with Harley’s evolving friendships with Poison Ivy, Clayface, Doctor Psycho, King Shark, and Sy Borgman.
While some of these characters are lesser-known to casual fans, they are treated just as A-list as Harley and Batman (yes, he shows up often). A primary dynamic is between Harley and Ivy as their views on society differ but mesh beautifully as Ivy’s feminist and go-green attitude to help influence Harley to come into her own even if she’s stubborn most of the time. Viewers will recognize many of the famous voices including Kaley Cuoco, Wayne Knight, Chris Meloni, and, my favorite, Wanda Sykes as the quotable Queen of Fables.
This is not your childhood Gotham cartoon, but it’s a continuous good time and so much fun watching everyone interact in a way that’s not plausible in a live-action form. Harley is given her time to shine in long-form and I couldn’t be more excited to see what’s in store in future seasons.