It's been almost a year since Harley Quinn was "rescued" from Belle Reve by The Joker in Suicide Squad, but the most abusive relationship in DC Comics continues to fascinate fans. This week, cinematographer Roman Vasyanov has provided us with new images taken from behind the scenes of the DCEU blockbuster, including one of Jared Leto looking far more serious than usual — and it's all thanks to Harley Quinn.
Why So Serious?
Captured from one of the many deleted scenes that fell to the cutting room floor, this image of Jared Leto portrays The #Joker as a forlorn character lamenting Harley Quinn's rejection of an earlier rescue attempt. Don't feel too sorry for The Clown Prince of Crime just yet though.
In the final cut of Suicide Squad, the abusive relationship between The Joker and Harley Quinn was downplayed in order to obtain the profitable PG-13 rating, and prevent audiences from feeling too uncomfortable — which was a rather problematic move. One scene in particular revealed how The Joker ordered one of his henchmen to hold a gun to Harleen Quinzel's head prior to her chemically-induced transformation, which wasn't as voluntary as it may have seemed in the cinematic version that was released.
By diluting the abusive elements of her relationship with Mistah J, Warner Bros. and director David Ayer also removed Harley Quinn's agency. Cutting out the scene where Harley rejects The Joker may have helped set up the rescue in the final scene, positioning the pair as a new Bonnie & Clyde, but this also subjugated Quinn further in the long run.
Sure, it could be argued that avoiding the abuse that Harley Quinn endured could work as a positive re-interpretation of their relationship, but the reality is that the abuse is still there. The Joker still takes advantage of Harley's damaged mental state, manipulating and objectifying her at every given opportunity. By minimizing the negative consequences of this, the abuse is instead hinted at in a way that dilutes and mitigates The Joker's cruel and warped treatment of his partner.
If the scenes where Harley is abused and subsequently stands up for herself had remained in the final cut, it would have paved the way for her to break for her to stand up for herself in more meaningful and empowering ways in the Suicide Squad sequels. Unfortunately, we've yet to see Harley question their relationship, or even the extent of the abuse she's endured.
Instead of ending with Quinn's fairytale vision of domestic bliss with The Joker by her side, future incarnations of Harley must strive for more, embodying the feminist ideals that comic book fans have known she's been capable of all along.
Fortunately, Margot Robbie will reprise the role of Harley Quinn in #GothamCitySirens and probably Suicide Squad 2 as well, providing Warner Bros. with plenty of chances to rectify their mistakes — if Killer Frost doesn't replace her as the sole female member of the Suicide Squad, that is. Harley Quinn has already endured enough abuse in the #DCEU, and Joker certainly does not deserve the last laugh in this case.
Would you like to see Harley Quinn break away from The Joker in future DCEU movies? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below!