Is Harley Quinn DC’s Deadpool?

Suicide Squad has yet to hit theaters, but Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment are already banking on the film’s success, with a planned Harley Quinn spinoff film announced earlier today. Both upcoming films clearly look to capitalize on the character’s massive popularity with comic book fans, who have raised Harley Quinn from her ’90s sidekick status to A-list comics antiheroine. Luckily, Deadpool already set a precedent for that sort of success, taking a fan favorite character and adapting him to the big screen with all the debauchery and violence seen in his original appearances. But make no mistake, while they might have their similarities, a Harley Quinn feature can be a lot more than DC’s answer to Deadpool’s success.
On the surface, Harley Quinn and Deadpool are obviously similar. They’re two characters from the ’90s that share a penchant for violence and darkly comedic adventures. Moreover, both initially appeared as minor characters, but rose to popularity due in large part to fandom. Harley wasn’t even in the pages of DC Comics until positive reaction to appearances in Batman: The Animated Series brought her to the books, taking the mischievous troublemaker and fleshing out her backstory to touch on themes of mental illness, addiction and more. Meanwhile, Deadpool’s almost stereotypically violent behavior struck a chord with comic fans that creators like Joe Kelly and Gail Simone used to their advantage, developing a self-aware antihero, ready to crack a joke just as quickly as he’d crack your spine.

Via 20th Century Fox

Via 20th Century Fox

Both characters provide an opportunity to explore unique themes within the framework of superhero narratives, but those themes are almost completely different. In the end, Deadpool set its sights on mocking standard superhero movies and their tropes. While the film presents a grim ‘n’ gritty protagonist, it does so primarily to mock the very concept of realistic, dark superhero movies instead of providing any sort of meaningful meditation on that character. It’s laughs first, story second.
While that’s an entertaining experience for many, a Harley Quinn film creates an opportunity for a more serious examination of a damaged antihero. For better or worse, DC’s film universe has a penchant for seriousness. Suicide Squad looks to contain some darkly comedic moments, but that grounded, real-world feel will probably stick. With that in mind, it only makes sense that a Harley Quinn movie would follow suit, providing the perfect opportunity to dive deep into the method of the character’s madness.

Via Warner Bros.

Via Warner Bros.

But more importantly, the recently announced project presents a chance to shine a major spotlight on one of comics’ most popular female characters. Harley is a flagship character for DC Comics, appearing in her own ongoing series and across numerous books from the publisher. A movie anchored by the character is a movie that could provide a bold new female hero for Hollywood. That’s especially true if the film involves prominent female characters like Batgirl and the Birds of Prey, names that The Hollywood Reporter claims are circulating around the project. Making Harley Quinn DC’s Deadpool and forcing an overtly comedic tone on the film would undermine that, turning one of DC’s most popular women into a joke in the process.
Are you excited for a Harley Quinn spinoff movie? What tone do you think filmmakers should take with the project? Share your thoughts in the comments below.