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Harley Quinn vs. The Joker: Who Would Win?

Harley Quinn began as the Joker’s battered girlfriend, but she’s evolved into a considerably more compelling figure without him.

Without the Joker, Harley Quinn is so much better – and this is true in both the movies and the comics. Harley Quinn made her debut as the Joker’s girlfriend and sidekick in Batman: The Animated Series. Harley’s past was first established in the episode “Mad Love,” in which it was revealed that she was a psychiatrist who treated the Joker at Arkham Asylum and was eventually sucked into his lunacy.

Despite the fact that Batman: The Animated Series centered on Harley Quinn‘s relationship with the Joker, the show was brutally honest about the twisted relationship. The Joker threw Harley out of a window in the final scene of “Mad Love.” When Harley was sent to the Asylum, he decided it was time to say goodbye to the Joker for good; then he gave her flowers, and she fell in love with him all over again. It was a classic abusive relationship, and one of Batman: The Animated Series’ worst themes.

It didn’t take long for Harley Quinn to make the jump to the comic books, and she quickly established herself as a key figure in the Batman universe. Despite this, the comics make it very obvious that Harley Quinn is better off free of the shadow of the Joker.

The Joker Is Just The Beginning Of Harley Quinn’s Story:

harley quinn vs. the joker

Harley Quinn was originally defined by her relationship with the Joker in the Animated Series, and she was consistently depicted as a victim of physical and emotional abuse who couldn’t get out of the Joker‘s clutches. When Harley entered the comic book world, however, writers began to define her in a new light. Harley’s romance with the Joker is her origin story in the comics; it’s as significant to her as the spider-bite is to Spider-Man, but not every narrative needs to deal with it, just as not every Spider-Man tale needs to discover new ways to explore the irradiated spider.

In the comics, Harley Quinn is shown as a woman whose inner self has been suppressed by society, and who was drawn to the Joker because she saw an opportunity to unleash her own anarchy. She was the epitome of a free spirit, stronger than the Joker imagined, too strong to be crushed by him; she broke out from the Joker’s control, and it’s been a long time since “Mr. J” has defined her in the comics.

Harley Quinn was portrayed as an abuse victim in Batman: The Animated Series, but she was reinvented as an abuse survivor in the comics. True, the Joker will keep reappearing; he’s a prideful man, enraged that Harley has been able to move on from him, offended that the lady he expected to do nothing but gaze adoringly at him suddenly has a life of her own. But those stories work now exactly because they are the exception, not the rule; because the Joker is no longer the definition of Harley’s life, but rather an infrequent aspect of it.

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Harley Quinn’s Best Stories See Her Grow Beyond The Joker:

Harley Quinn’s strongest stories consistently show her stepping out of the shadow of the Joker. She’s more or less DC’s Deadpool, a chaotic and anarchic force who refuses to be defined by categories like “good” and “bad.” She alternates between being a criminal on the loose and collaborating with Batgirl to stop a supervillain. The greatest Harley Quinn comics resemble superhero slapstick, a grown-up version of the old “Looney Tunes” cartoons in which the hero swings a mallet and fires an inexhaustible number of bullets.

The Harley Quinn animated series from DC Universe tries to convey this by depicting the story through her eyes, reinterpreting famous Batman characters in a hilarious way. In an interview with Den of Geek, executive producer Justin Halpern explained:

In the New 52 relaunch’s Gotham City Sirens series, Harley Quinn was presented as crypto-queer, with indications of a relationship with Poison Ivy that was just recently made explicit in the comics. Harley Quinn confronted Ivy with the fact that she knew she loved her there, but the show was canceled before the plot was resolved. DC later confirmed the two were dating in a tweet, referring to them as “girlfriends without the jealousy of monogamy.” Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy, on the other hand, have been treated as on-again, off-again romantic partners since then. It’s considerably better, and infinitely more fun, relationship than Harley’s with the Joker, and it’s crucial to note that neither woman will let it define them.

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The Post-Joker Harley Is DC’s “Fourth Pillar:

Harley Quinn had become the “fourth pillar,” standing behind the original Trinity of Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, according to DC publisher Jim Lee in 2016. That shows how prominent a figure she’s become in the comics, where she’s always a best-seller and makes frequent appearances in other titles. Recent issues of Superman even went so far as to insinuate that Harley Quinn has joined the Justice League, which was a surprising twist.

Her fame has risen greatly as a result of her breakout role in the DCEU, in which she is played by Margot Robbie, and the films are seeking to depict the character’s post-Joker life. The Joker was also omitted from flashback scenes in Birds of Prey, emphasizing this point. While the film didn’t perform as well as DC had intended, it was also a low-budget, R-rated film, therefore it could be considered a success. It’ll be fascinating to see what Harley Quinn’s future holds, and hopefully, it won’t include the Joker.

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