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This is one of those topics that have always irritated me from the DC universe. And really got under my skin when Suicide Squad came out. Joker and Harley Quinn are not #CoupleGoals. Yes they are a couple, but no they are not the couple that you should look up to when you are thinking about what you want your relationship to be. If anything, they should be the example of what you don’t want your relationship to be. It is the prime example of an abusive and toxic relationship. I’m not just going to be focusing on their relationship from the Suicide Squad movie but from all of DC franchise (comic books, animated series, etc.).
Suicide Squad has a lot of deleted scenes and considering they had a whole separate movie planned out then changed it to match more of the “Deadpool” aesthic a lot got left out. Such as just how abusive Joker and Harley Quinn are towards each other. One example being Joker trying to kill Harley and then she casts him aside for her new teammates. But since that didn’t make it to the final cut, let’s look at the other key moments that define their relationship and show just how NOT #CoupleGoals they are together. Though you have to admit they are a match made in Hell.
Arkham Asylum – Harleen Quinzel to Harley Quinn
From the moment Harley Quinn met Joker in their first therapy sessions in Arkham Asylum, Joker has been playing Harley Quinn to his advantage. If you know the origins of Harley Quinn, you know her real name is Dr. Harleen Quinzel and she was a psychiatrist at Arkham Asylum. She had became a psychiatrist to understand her abusive criminal father, similar to that of the Joker. So when she is assigned the case of the purple-suited socipath, he manipulates her into falling in love with him by telling her stories about his own abusive father (whether true or false, but likely the latter) in order to gain her sympathy. Thus allowing Joker to escape Arkham and causes Harleen to lose her license. Harleen recreates herself as “Harley Quinn” so she join Joker. This is a prime example of Gaslighting. If you’ve never heard of the term, it’s a psychological term used to describe a form of mental abuse wherein the abuser leads his/her partner to doubt their own sanity, orientation, identity, and/or memory, thereby allowing them to manipulate the victim into a state of dependence.
Chemical Dump – Harley Snaps
In the New 52 reboot of the comics, it is revealed that Joker takes Harley to Ace Chemicals. The very same factory where the Red Hood (Joker) was on a heist that ended horribly in which Joker fell into the chemicals causnig his skin to become bleached. This is the moment that defines when Harley Quinn “snaps.” New 52 shows the event from Harley’s perspective whereas Suicide Squad shows it from Joker’s. In New 52, Joker pushes Harley Quinn into the chemicals taking away much of her responsibility for what she turns into. Whereas, in Suicide Squad Harley jumps in herself.
Dark Knight’s Animated Series – Love for Harley vs Batman
Throughout the series you can see Joker treating Harley Quinn poorly. For instance, after Joker is foiled again by Batman and is working at his desk on his next scheme Harley climbs up in her lingerie and says “Aw, c’mon puddin’… don’t ya wana rev up your Harley? Vroom, vroom!” To which Joker pushes her off of the desk. When she continues advances towards the Joker, he kicks her out of the hideout.
In this same episode, Mad Love, Harley decides that the only way to get Joker to love her is if she managed to kill Batman. When she captures Batman, and shows Joker what she has done. He is livid that Harley would even try to kill Batman herself. As she is interfering in his relationship with the Dark Knight and throws Harley out of the window. She states that she is done with Joker for good until she receives a bundle of flowers with a “Get well soon” card and her love for Joker is resurrected yet again.
Trapped in a Rockey – Harley Leaves Joker
Pushing Harley off of a desk isn’t the full extent of Joker’s abuse. On multiple occasions he has attempted to murder Harley Quinn. One of these occassions involved trapping Harley in a rocket and launching her away. Joker mentions to Harley that he hates having feelings for her as it distracts him from his chaotic ambitions. So he decided to rid himself of Harley once and for all. Harley, however, is able to control the rocket’s direction and crash land in Robinson Park where she meets Poison Ivy. After becoming friends with Ivy, she decides to leave Joker and began heists with Poison Ivy. Which Joker sees as a sign of open rebellion against him. Though Harley Quinn does not fall out of love with Joker. She also has relationship with Deadshot while she is apart from Joker. And at one point in the comics, after Joker goes insane (even further) and takes off his face. He is presumed dead. Harley Quinn steals the face then puts it on Deadshot so she can talk to “the Joker” and try to understand her grief over his seeming death. Though of course he did not die and returns in the future.
Harley Goes Back to the Joker Time and Time Again
The Joker offers her a bushel of roses. Which would seem like a pretty normal romantic gesture if they had not been filled with lit TNT. Harley is able to escape before the explosion kills her. She then rationalizes to herself that her boyfriend just has “commitment issues.”
While in Brian Azzarello and Lee Bermejo’s 2008 graphic novel Joker, Harley Quinn is mistaken as a stripper in front of Joker. To which, Joker rips off all of Monty’s skin and throws the skinless body onto the stage in front of the audience. Which we see similar behavior in Suicide Squad, where Joker points a gun at a guy who looked too long at Harley Quinn. In that same graphic novel, Joker openly cries to in Harley’s lap further showing that at some layer he does care about Harley if not dependent on each other in some way. Whether just provisive in the Joker’s case or obsession as it is in Harley’s case. Both of these are shown as well in Suicide Squad and the Dark Knight’s animated series. Joker time and time again hates when he doesn’t have Harley Quinn around or if she’s around someone else. And Harley is overly obsessed with the Joker.
But no matter what they do, they are still abusive towards each other. In another instance Joker drags Harley into a cellar where he has the previous “Harleys” all dawning the same black and red colors. He tells her there have been Harleys before her and there’ll be more Harleys after. She is chained up and left for dead with the lie that she’s just one of many. Though from what we can gather, she’s the only one but he manages to convince her with all the skeletons.
Family for Joker and Harley
There are two key instances in which the dynamic duo start a family. There’s the time where they brainwashed Robin into being their son. And the time mentioned in New 52, where Harley Quinn reveals she had given birth to a daughter.
In the first case, during the animated film Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, Joker and Harley Quinn have kidnapped Tim Drake (the current Robin) and transform him into a mini-Joker. They spent three weeks torturing and brainwashing him, thus turning him into Joker Jr. or JJ for short. Though when Joker tries to have JJ kill Batman, he kills Joker instead… granted Joker doesn’t actually die from this.
In the second case, in New 52 some time after Suicide Squad Harley reveals to Black Canary that she has a daughter with Joker named Lucy who lives with Harleen’s sister. Apparently she became pregnant and left Joker for nine months so she wouldn’t get in the way. When she returned Joker pretended he didn’t notice her disappearance.
There are other moments of abuse in their relationship but these are just some of the key ones that show just how NOT #CoupleGoals they are.