Is Harley Quinn’s Skimpy Style In ‘Suicide Squad’ Comic Book Accuracy Or Over-Sexualization?

The everlasting fascination for the character of Harley Quinn means we’re probably far from done talking about her first appearance on the silver screen. But if you’re tired of hearing about Suicide Squad and whether it did justice to its roster of villains, I’d suggest you close this article and grab a comic book instead.

The first thing you notice when you see Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn is the outfit. In DC’s many comic book iterations, she’s famous for having a whole series of costumes that range from the traditional jester outfit to more revealing styles, and Ayer’s adaptation clearly went for the latter. The bottom part is just shiny underwear, and the movie even graces us with a few shots of her almost naked body, from her changing scene to her bending forwards into a shattered shop window.

Harley Quinn in ‘Suicide Squad’ / DC/Warner Bros.

Margot Robbie herself commented on how she didn’t feel exactly comfortable wandering around the set in the costume: While she does think that Harley is “wearing hot pants because they’re sparkly and fun, not because she wanted guys to look at her ass,”

“As Margot, no, I don’t like wearing that. I’m eating burgers at lunchtime, and then you go do a scene where you’re hosed down and soaking wet in a white T-shirt, it’s so clingy and you’re self-conscious about it.”

And the reactions to Harley’s outfit choice for the movie were mixed, from fans who regretted the absence of the jester costume and those who complained about her over-sexualization, to those who judged it to be all in good fun, especially when DC made her wear the shortest shorts with the revamp of the New 52. What did you think, though?

Harley Quinn’s Sexy, Provocative Attitude Is Present In The Comic Books

Harley Quinn don't mess around / DC Comics

Harley Quinn don’t mess around / DC Comics

Harley Quinn doesn’t exactly pick her outfits based on the coverage they provide: In the New 52 reissue of her series, she’s wearing garters and a plunging neckline. Her style is a part of her “no fucks given” attitude, which also means she doesn’t wear revealing clothes to seduce — rather because she enjoys the provocation for herself, like a boost of confidence.

The comics even later adapted her style to her on-screen version, switching her red and black locks to the blonde, dip-dyed hair she’s rocking in Suicide Squad. But the question is, if the movie draws from the comics for the costume, does it also respect the other facets of her character?

Does Suicide Squad Miss The More Complex Aspects Of Harley Quinn?

Harley Quinn punches the Joker / DC Comics
Harley Quinn punches the Joker / DC Comics

An overly sexy Harley Quinn requires a balance: Her incredible popularity has always come from the fact that she was much more than just a female sidekick or a pretty accessory to showcase the Joker’s madness. So if we have Harley parading around in her mini-briefs and showing off the top of her underwear to the world, the focus on her killer looks should be complemented with the darker tones of her history.

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One of the main subtexts in Harley and the Joker’s relationship in the comics is about domestic violence, and how Harley is a victim of abuse who gradually learns to move on. Yet it seems like Suicide Squad doesn’t show us any of that: She’s still at a stage where she’s simply madly in love with the Joker and her definition of happiness seems to rely on building a family with him, however crazy that might be. We’re far away from the journey Ayer had teased to Empire prior to the movie’s release:

“It’s about her breaking free of The Joker and becoming this fully actualized, independent person. That really is a metaphor for everyone’s journey here.”

Considering Its Broader Audience, Suicide Squad Could Have Explored Harley Quinn’s Character Further

Harley Quinn in 'Suicide Squad' / DC/Warner Bros.
Harley Quinn in ‘Suicide Squad’ / DC/Warner Bros.

In the end, Suicide Squad portrays Harley Quinn as sexy and crazy, but in a way that’s more cute than depressing or scary, contributing to many fans’ perception that her relationship with the Joker is the ultimate edgy romance.

Of course, with talks of a solo Harley Quinn movie and a Suicide Squad 2, this relationship is bound to evolve. But it’s important to keep in mind that blockbuster comic book adaptations also speak to larger audiences who aren’t familiar with the source material, so it’d be a shame if these newcomers to the DC Universe walked away with the impression that Harley is a sparkly girl who’s just madly in love.

What’s your impression of Suicide Squad‘s Harley Quinn? Too cute and sexy, or a great portrayal that is meant to evolve?

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