The Joker and Harley Quin are two fascinating characters on their own. The added dynamic between them has also been an interesting topic. It is nothing I would ever defend as being a healthy relationship, but Suicide Squad has seemingly done some changes to their dynamic that could make for all new view of the pair.
Warning for Major Spoilers for Suicide Squad!
The original iteration of this toxic relationship started in Batman Animated Series. Harley came off as desperate and needy for Joker’s attention and affection. Not something that he was willing to give. Joker had moments of endearment, but for the most part was all around abusive to Harley. Verbally and emotionally bashing her to physical harm. And those times of affection often would only come when he needed her. Still she would find her way back to Joker, something he always expected from her.
In Suicide Squad it is somewhat hard to get the full picture of their relationship as they are only together in flashbacks and brief moments in the film itself. But the impression it gave was of star crossed lovers and a more co-dependent relationship than that of the original. Joker’s appearance in the present time portions of the film involve him trying to get Harley Quinn back. And Harley to take the risk of jumping off a building and grabbing a rope to get back to him.
But as I said before this relationship is still nothing I would consider healthy. But in this version the two seem to feed of one another’s madness. Joker brought out that side of Dr. Harleen Quinzel. In that moment that he’s about to torture her, she says “You think you…Well I can take it”. Nothing I would consider sane in that moment. Harley is even described as being more crazy and a wild card than Joker himself.
What I considered this to mean is that Harley in a very in the moment character. She is very reactionary. An example of this is when Rick Flag is being dragged off by the creatures. Her reaction to this is “Good Riddance”. She sees it as the solution the squad has been waiting for to get away from Flag. It takes Deadshot reminding her that if Rick Flag were to die then they’re all dead. That is not to call her stupid or not capable, but that is just the type of character she is. Instead of planning ahead she reacts to what is going on in the moment. Her eccentric and odd personality coming for her lack of filter and brakes. Another example of this being when she breaks the window of the shop to steal a purse, despite the dangerous situation and tension in the air.
Then there is Joker who is meticulous and planning. After gaining Harley Quinn’s location and what is planned for her he doesn’t just rush off to find her. Instead he first stops at the location where the bombs inside the necks of the squad were made. Finding the man who made them and already having that man’s family in danger to use as leverage against him.
There is another piece that I found curious in the film. When you see Harley’s imaginative fantasy of her perfect life. She is in a more normal appearance with children and Joker, who is also in a more normal appearance. There is another moment in the film where baby clothes can be seen. You see them in outskirts of the circle of knives and weaponry that Joker is encircled in. It raised a curious question to me of whether the two have had children or attempted to have children.
It could be these children we lost in their more volatile lifestyle. Potentially lost before they could be born. Or they had to give up the children, a less likely scenario but possible. Another scenario being that due to the chemicals both Joker and Harley were in caused them to be unable to produce children. But the fact that these appear in both in Joker’s circle and Harley’s fantasy gives another clue that these two might be more in-sync than other versions.
Joker is still in the lead having brought Harley into madness. Getting her to the point of willingly falling into the chemical vat as proof of loving him and wanting to be by his side. Joker asks before that if she would, “Live for him?” In that question and moment gives what I feel as some of Joker’s own insecurity coming to light. The need to have her to live for him and be by his side forever. Maybe this Joker has some abandonment issues in his past?
As I said before this article is not me defending their relationship as healthy. Simply me showcasing a new take on the relationship that the Suicide Squad seems to show. That is a relationship where these two twisted individuals feed off one another’s madness. Where it goes and how it potentially develops remains to be seen. We do see them officially reunited at the end of Suicide Squad where they make their next appearance in this movie universe remains to be seen.