History of the Harlequin

har·le·quin

/ˈhärləkwən/
noun
1. A mute character in traditional pantomime, typically masked and dressed in a diamond-patterned costume.

History in the DC Universe

Harleen Quinzel was a gymnast in high school. It gave way to a scholarship to University so she could become a psychologist. Now it gives way to clever ways to escape the cops when on a caper with the infamous Joker.
But her first run-in with the cackling king of comedy was far more innocent. Harleen became his psychologist at Arkham Asylum. But the Joker spun tear-jerking tales about his childhood, and Harleen’s sympathy gave way to passion.
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As she fell more and more in love, Harleen knew she had to do something to prove it to him. So she donned the classic black and red diamond-pattern harlequin suit and donned the name Harley Quinn to spring her mad lover out of the slammer.
The relationship has been love/hate ever since. The Joker complains that Harley cramps his style, and it’s up for debate among fans as to whether the relationship was purely abusive, or simply insanity-fueled.

History of the Character

Harley Quinn was born thanks to a couple unlikely factors: A cake, the soap opera Days of our Lives, and the cult classic The Princess Bride.
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Back during the Batman animated series, the writers wanted somebody to jump out of a cake for the Joker. Arleen Sorkin, an actress from Days of our Lives, had helped with a medieval dream sequence based on the Princess Bride, where she danced around in a jester costume.
So even though Joker got his cake-jumping role in the end, Harley Quinn had been created.
Harley’s first graphic novel appearance was Mad Love. The classic 1994 story explains her origin, and also gives us some insight into the friendship between Harley and Ivy.
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Harley continued to appear in Batman’s animated shows, had a role in a Batman/Superman movie, and apparently had twin granddaughters in Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker.
Harley Quinn was finally allowed into Batman’s comic canon universe in the late 1990’s, and even earned her own series in 2001. She continued to have minor roles in various comic books.
In 2011, DC launched it’s New 52. Harley Quinn got a sexy revamp, and her popularity has been soaring ever since. Her most famous appearances are a few stand-alone specials, Batman: Arkham Asylum video game, and most recently the new Suicide Squad movie.
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Sermon

Harley Quinn is known to many as a strong female character. Whether it’s turning her back on the world to do what she thinks is right, leaving an abusive relationship or her transition from villain to anti-hero,  she’s an inspiration to a lot of DC fans. But there’s a lot of controversy around Harley as well. From the suicidal talent search to general sexualization of the character, many people aren’t quite sure what to think about Harley. Was her relationship with Joker abusive, or cartoon violence? Is there anything good about the talent search? What is the airspeed of an unladen swallow? I’d love to hear your opinions below, or email them to me on the contact page!

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 More Sources

Wikipedia is, of course, the go-to source for a starting out geek. On the other hand, it’s a lot of info to choke down. Here’s some more user-friendly places to get started on your Harley Spree.

One thought on “History of the Harlequin

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