Every Batman fan knows the classic Harley Quinn. The loveable but crazy chick that acts as the Joker’s partner in crime. We all know her from the stubbornness with which she follows the Joker. Even after all the craziness that The Joker puts her through, her love for him grows even more.
We first saw her on our TV screens when she was introduced in Batman – The Animated Series and served as a female super-villain and love interest of the Joker ever since.
Harley Quinn before the New 52 is usually referred to as the Classic Harley Quinn. This article will serve as the complete guide to the classic Harley Quinn. The article will also explore the modern take on her after the reboot in 2011.
Origin Story of Classic Harley Quinn
Harley Quinn is actually a psychiatrist named Dr. Harleen Quinzel. Harleen Quinzel is a part of an extremely dysfunctional family. And the reason she chooses psychiatry is to connect with her family in a better way.
She is assigned to the Joker during his incarceration at The Arkham Asylum. Joker takes a liking to her and starts to play mind games with her. Joker tells Dr. Harleen that he was an abused child and that his father would beat the daylights out of him.
He starts to gain her sympathy. And in this way, he warps her mind and starts to mold her as per his liking. He makes her fall in love with him and exploits her roots from a dysfunctional family to do so.
After falling for the Joker and not understanding his mind games, Harleen helps Joker escape multiple times from the asylum. It is when Batman brings the Joker to Arkham that Dr. Harleen Quinzel wears her iconic Jester Costume and calls herself Harley Quinn. She tries to stop Batman and starts to refer to the Joker as Mistah J and puddin.
Introduction to The Classic Harley Quinn
Harley Quinn was first introduced in Batman – The Animated Series and was well-received both by the critics and the viewers. As a result, she became an instant hit. The classic Harley Quinn was introduced to diversify the character list on the show and add a romantic element to the Joker’s life.
Arleen Sorkin voiced her. Mark Hamill attributed the success of the classic Harley Quinn to Arleen’s performance. After her introduction, she starred in multiple episodes of the series. She also guest-starred in The New Batman Adventures.
After the character’s success in the TV series, she was immediately introduced in the comics. She became a regular feature in several comics of Batman. Her first Dedicated graphic novel was Harley Quinn: Mad Love.
Although they have apparently broken up in this new feature, the classic Harley Quinn still believes that Joker loves her very much.
As the popularity of the classic Harley Quinn, the classic costume is also iconic. She has been associated with the same costume since her inception till 2011, when the New 52 revamped her look.
Classic Harley Quinn Costume
The costume consists of a jester look consisting of a black domino mask, white facial makeup. They are paired with a one-piece black-and-red motley outfit and a cowl. Harley Quinn’s skin is not permanently white and uses white make-up to look more like Joker in complexion. She also holds a Mallet that is similarly styled and calls it Beatrice.
This costume became synonymous with the classic Harley Quinn. Modern iterations of the costume differ in appearance.
The New 52 Costume
After the revamp in New 52, an alternate red and black colored outfit paired with a sleeveless top was introduced. The outfit was paired with elbow pads, tight shorts, knee pads, and boots.
Her hair color was also changed to half red and half black. In this modern take, her skin is also faded due to Joker throwing her in a vat of acid.
The DC Rebirth Outfit
This new iteration has Her hair color blonde with blue dye on the left side and pink (red) dye on the right. The outfit consists of tight, blue, and red shorts paired with a ripped tee-shirt and satin jacket. She also wears fingerless gloves and fishnet stockings, a studded belt, and lace-up boots.
This Outfit is also featured in the Suicide Squad movie and is worn by Margot Robbie. After her portrayal, this costume has become massively popular for cosplayers.
Classic Harley Quinn Voice
One of the best and most annoying things about Harley Quinn was her voice. She has a childish voice but a strong New Yorker accent. It’s amazing and all that have played her character after the Animated series. Arleen Sorkin is the actor who voiced her in the series, and she became iconic for this role.
The voice works so well because Harley Quinn has to constantly maintain crazy, fun, sexy, and sweetness simultaneously, and that is not easy. Harley Quinn can never be too crazy because you still need to be attracted to her. She can’t be too sexy either because you still need to fear her. You can’t only fear her because the best trick is that she can get you to believe her sweetness.
Although classic Harley Quinn’s character is massively popular but is not without its fair share of criticisms, the most obvious flaw with her character for which she is criticized the most is her abusive relationship with The Joker.
Joker insults her, beats her, and even strangles her. Joker even threw her out of a building’s top floor. This happened when she trapped Batman on her own and was about to kill him to please the Joker. Batman manipulates her into calling the Joker.
As a result, when Joker gets to know about Harley’s plan, he becomes furious and reaches her location. There he berates her for kidnapping Batman and tells her it is only he who can kill Batman.
During this argument, he throws her out of the window, causing the window glass to shatter. She sustains severe injuries and is being treated in a hospital. One can think that she will get some sense and dump Joker only to get shocked. As she still loves Joker and expresses her love for him when he sends her a rose and a get-well-soon message.
This indecisive and powerless depiction of Harley Quinn that even endures physical assault from the Joker is often criticized. Psychologists have also voiced their opinion declaring the portrayal as damaging to new generations. The fans dismiss this notion by saying that this portrayal is actually the result of Joker playing mind games with her and is a testament to how twisted he actually is.
DC fixed the issue somewhat in Rebirth when Harley finally dumps the Joker for good and is seen happy with her Suicide Squad buddies.
Final Thoughts On The Classic Harley Quinn
All in all, the Classic Harley Quinn is a beloved character and has achieved cult status. The article describes the complete origin story and development of the classic Harley Quinn over the years.
It also describes the modern versions of the classic Harley Quinn and how they are different from each other. You have to understand Harley Quinn to increase your Batman Factor. She is one of those grey space characters that is not good but is not fully a villain all the time either. She started very well, and once she had some separation from the Joker, she came to her senses.