It’s weird how Harley Quinn rose to the top of pop culture over the years. Originally a throwaway character introduced in Batman: The Animated Series, the Joker’s primary squeeze and tagalong sidekick managed to earn a devoted fan following with that single appearance. Reboots have come and gone, she’s been put through numerous creative teams over the decades and her status quo has frequently been altered, but the truth is…people just love Harley.
They love her carefree attitude, zest for life and the unhinged chaos that she represents. They love that unique dialect she lets loose whenever given a chance to do so and they adore her plucky attitude. So how do you take a character like that, condense her limitless energy into a 21-minute animated spectacle and still find time to evolve her personality along the way?
You give Harley a family, friends and a mission in life that points her in a direction that is literally bloody good fun while making certain that she finally breaks out of the shadow of her puddin’ along the way. With the live-action Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn flick on the way, DC Universe’s take on the character is one that emphasises fun and anarchy.
You’ve got Harley finally realising that hanging out with the Joker is going to get her killed, a properly weird quest to enter the A-game gang that is the Legion of Doom and a cast of criminals who aren’t just supervillains (and one eco-terrorist) but also family. That’s where Harley Quinn really excels, as it takes a core gang of ne’er-do-wells, points them in a specific direction and watches all hell break loose.
You’ve got Harley herself, voiced by Kaley Cuoco and breathing all manner of manic energy into the character that attacks with a one-two combo of the sharpest zingers in Gotham and a blood-soaked baseball bat. She’s as blunt as a giant novelty mallet when she needs to be, sharp as a scalpel when her skills in psychology come in handy and she’s not afraid to drop an F-bomb and her boot on your ass if you get in her way. Guys, I think Cuco’s Harley isn’t just my favourite to date, she’s simply the best at a role that she was born to play.
As for the rest of the cast? Perfect hires. Lake Bell as Poison Ivy is a wonderfully sardonic take on the character, a world-weary warrior of the green who’s the friend that Harley needs even if she doesn’t listen to her sage advice. She may be a deadpan advocate for the extinction of humanity, but Bell’s take on the character is also surprisingly warm, compassionate and human whenever she gets a chance to shine.
You’ve also got Alan Tudyk proving why he’s one of the best actors in the business, pulling double duty as the Joker and Clayface. One is a homicidal sociopath whose super-power is super-manipulation and a complete lack of morals, the other is a thespian of crime who speaks like a third-year acting student that you want to drown in a bathtub and dammit I want more adventures of Clayface’s hand. Yes, it sounds bonkers but watch the show and you’ll agree.
Then you’ve got Ron Funches as a surprisingly tender King Shark who has transitioned beyond the supervillain trope of muscle for hire and Tony Hale as an absolute bastard version of Dr Psycho. A gang of Gotham’s worst, but also a family of outcasts and rejects who find value in each other’s company. And their specific set of skills that allows them to leave a bloody trail all across Gotham City as they run into big-name villains, Batman and a very strung-out Commissioner Gordon.
You take all of that, you chuck it into a blender and the end result is pure chaos. Harley Quinn isn’t serious about what it does, but it’s damn well serious about how it concocts a weekly story that usually sees the gang’s plans explode in their faces and leave a trail of carnage behind in the process. It is hilarious and heart-warming, goofy as heck as it frequently takes the piss out of itself and able to punch you right in the emotions when you least expect it. Should you be watching DC Universe’s Harley Quinn?
Hell yeah! It’s always sunny in Gotham with this gang around.
Last Updated: January 15, 2020