Today was supposed to be Batman Day, but the Clown Princess of Crime has taken over. DC Comics has named September 23 this year Harley Quinn Day to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the character.
While some comic book characters take decades to become popular, it took Harley less than two to become an ubiquitous part of pop culture. Originally created just as a Joker gang member for Batman: The Animated Series, she’s now the star of her own long-running title. She’s been featured in countless TV shows and comics, and made her film debut in Suicide Squad, played by Margot Robbie.
Here’s what you need to know to for Harley Quinn Day.
1. DC Comics Published Free Specials, Including 1 With a Brand New Amanda Conner & Jimmy Palmiotti Story
Since Batman Day was launched four years ago to celebrate the character’s 75th anniversary, DC Comics has been publishing a free Batman Day special to pair with the festivities. Last year’s issue was a reprint of Batman (2016) #1. These issues are essentially variants, since they are usually reprints with different covers.
This year’s special is a reprint of the first part of Tim King and David Finch’s “I Am Bane” story. However, DC Comics added a new three-page Harley story, written by Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti with art by Bret Blevins.
Another special, Harley Quinn Batman Day 2017 Special Edition #1, includes the first part of the “Joker Loves Harley” story by Conner and Palmiotti with art from John Timms.
For children, there’s also DC Super Hero Girls Batman Day 2017 Special Edition #1, which includes the first part of Shea Fontana’s new graphic novel Out of the Bottle. The art is by Marcelo DiChiara and Agnes Garbowska.
Comic book stores will also be having special events and giveaways. If you’re lucky to have a major comic book store near a big city, you might even get to meet a Batman writer or artist. Frank Miller, Brian Azzarello, Andy Kubert, Klaus Janson and Paul Dini are among the writers and artists taking part in events. Click here to find the closest Batman Day event to you.
2. Harley Quinn Will Next Be Seen in ‘Suicide Squad 2,’ ‘Gotham City Sirens’ & a ‘Harley Quinn & Joker’ Movie
Considering Harley Quinn’s popularity, plus the fact that Margot Robbie’s performance was one of the good things to come out of Suicide Squad, it’s no surprise that Warner Bros. has plans to keep using her in upcoming films.
The next time we see Robbie in the role could be in Suicide Squad 2. Deadline reported earlier this month that Gavin O’Connor (Warrior) will direct the film. O’Connor is currently working on a sequel to his Ben Affleck hit The Accountant for Warner Bros.
David Ayer, who directed the Oscar-winning (It’s true!) Suicide Squad is working on Gotham City Sirens, which will feature Harley, along with other female Bat-family characters.
In August, The Hollywood Reporter reported that Crazy, Stupid, Love. filmmakers Glenn Ficarra and John Requa are working on another movie about Harley that will include the Joker. Robbie and Jared Leto will star in this film, which is set before Suicide Squad.
Robbie previously worked with Ficarra and Requa on Focus (with Will Smith) and Whiskey Tango Foxtrot.
“They’re great! It’s fun working with a directing duo, and I love them,” Robbie told ComingSoon.net recently. “I’ve obviously done two films with them so I think they’re just brilliant. I’m personally a sucker for a love story. In any iteration. I think people enjoy seeing two characters who, in Harley and Joker’s case, would die for one another. It’s kind of romantic in a messed up way.”
3. Paul Dini Was Inspired to Create Harley From a Scene in ‘Days of Our Lives’
Harley Quinn made her debut in “Joker’s Favor,” a Batman: The Animated Series episode that aired on September 11, 1992. She was only featured as a Joker sidekick and a love interest. It was thought that she’d just be a background character. But after the 1994 one-shot comic Mad Love fleshed out her origin story, she quickly became a major part of the Batman world.
Writer Paul Dini was inspired to create Harley after seeing actress Arleen Sorkin wear a jester costume in a Days of Our Lives episode. Sorkin and Dini met in college and were good friends, so he injected Harley with some of her personality. Sorkin, now retired and married to TV producer Christopher Lloyd, ended up voicing Harley.
“It’s completely flattering ” Sorkin told Starlog Magazine. “Knowing that makes it a joyful experience to play her. I don’t feel I’ll ever be recast so that’s good too.”
Sorkin said her favorite episodes were “Harley and Ivy,” which established Harley’s relationship with Poison Ivy, and “Harley’s Holiday.”
Since Sorkin’s retirement, Harley has usually been voiced by prolific voice actress Tara Strong. However, Melissa Rauch (The Big Bang Theory) voiced her for this year’s direct-to-DVD movie Batman and Harley Quinn.
4. Harley Quinn Almost Appeared in the Follow-up to ‘Batman & Robin,’ ‘Batman Unchained’
When Batman & Robin finished filming and before its disastrous release in 1997, director Joel Schumacher threw around several ideas for a fifth film in the series started by Tim Burton’s 1989 film. One script was called Batman Triumphant or Batman Unchained and was written by Mark Protosevich (I Am Legend).
The Unchained script reportedly featured Scarecrow as the main villain, and Nicolas Cage, Ewan McGregor and Jeff Goldblum were considered for the role. The script also included Harley Quinn, and Schumacher thought he could get Madonna for the role.
Unlike the comic book and TV version of Harley, this Harley was the Joker’s daughter, and she wanted revenge for her father’s death in the 1989 movie.
Unchained was ultimately scrapped after Batman & Robin was savaged by critics and fans. Several other Batman projects were in development, but none came to fruition until Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins.
5. Jim Lee Now Considers Harley as Important to DC as Batman, Superman & Wonder Woman
When it comes to DC Comics, there are three characters more important than any others – Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman. But after just 25 years of existence, Harley is now as important as them.
“I refer to her as the fourth pillar in our publishing line, behind Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman,” artist Jim Lee, who is also DC’s co-publisher, told Vulture in August 2016.
When the Suicide Squad comic was re-launched in 2011 with Harley as a member, DC really started to notice how popular she was. She was even prominently featured on variant covers, which sold better than regular covers.
“Harley covers sold better than any of the other characters,” DC co-publisher Dan Didio told Vulture. “And the best-selling [paperback collection of issues] was the one that captured her origin story. So when we saw that she had some real interest — and the more we put her in the book, the better the book did — it seemed to generate some sensibility for us, saying, There’s more there.”
Now, you can’t go to any comic book store, toy store or clothing store without seeing a Harley toy, book or jersey. She’s on Six Flags rides. Kevin Smith named his daughter Harley Quinn Smith after her. She’s everywhere.