The maiden of mischief!!
It's been 25 years since the first appearance of one of the most popular comic book characters: Harley Quinn! But unlike most comic book characters, Harley Quinn didn't debut within the pages and panels of a comic book. She actually first appeared on the cartoon Batman: The Animated Series. She was such a popular character, Harley made the transition from cartoons to comic books, and now she's the star of video games and movies.
Harley Quinn is the creation of Paul Dini, one of the minds responsible for the success of Batman: The Animated Series, a cartoon that many fans consider to be one of the best in the history of animation and storytelling.
Dini created Harley Quinn for the episode titled "Joker's Favor" to be the Joker's sidekick and girlfriend and inspired by a scene from the soap opera Days of Our Lives with Arleen Sorkin in a jester outfit. Arleen Sorkin would actually be the iconic voice of Harley Quinn throughout the animated series.
Harley Quinn was hopelessly in love with the Joker, her "puddin", and would help assist him in his schemes or be used by the Joker as a distraction so he could get away from Batman and Robin. Besides being used and abused by the Joker, Harley would sometimes have adventures with her fellow femme fatale, Poison Ivy, and became a popular enough character to make the move from cartoons to comic books, a feat only accomplished by a handful of other characters.
In know that in DC's New 52, Harley Quinn has been given an updated origin story for new readers, but I actually prefer Harley's original origin story given to her by Paul Dini and Bruce Timm. As Dr. Harleen Quinzel, Harley was a psychiatrist at Arkham Asylum, fascinated and attracted to her patient, the Joker.
Using that interest to his advantage, the Joker manipulated Harley into falling in love with him and convinced her that he loved her as well. Disgusted by how Batman would pulverize and punish her puddin, Dr. Harleen Quinzel donned a jester outfit and became Harley Quinn, freeing the Joker from Arkham Asylum and becoming his sidekick.
Harley Quinn has had a huge impact on comic books, especially in recent years, and that has led to her appearance in other forms of entertainment. Harley has appeared in cartoons and animated films like The New Batman Advenutres, Justice League, The Lego Batman Movie, and Batman and Harley Quinn. Besides being voiced by Alreen Sorkin, other notable Harley voice actresses include Tara Strong, Jenny Slate, and Melissa Rauch.
Harley Quinn has also appeared in several video games. Her most well-known appearances being in the Batman: Arkham series, first as an accomplice to the Joker in Batman: Arkham Asylum and Batman: Arkham City, and later as an antagonist on her own in Batman: Arkham Knight. She is also a playable character in the Injustice series.
In film, Harley Quinn made her debut on the big screen in Suicide Squad, played by Margot Robbie. Even though the movie is highly criticized and bashed, Robbie did a fantastic job of portraying the damaged and complex character. She will reprise the role of Harley Quinn in a future Harley Quinn/Joker movie, a Gotham City Sirens movie, and possibly in the Suicide Squad sequel.
But besides Harley Quinn's portrayals and appearances in comic books, movies, and other forms of entertainment, it is her image in popular culture that makes her adored by fans. Her ralationship with the Joker is very conversational because of how some assume that their relationship involves mutual affection and neglect to see how the Joker manipulates and abuses Harley. In recent years, Harley has left the Joker and is recovering from the Joker's years of abuse. Harley Quinn is a survivor of domestic abuse and is no longer defined by the Joker. Harley Quinn is a heroic character with her own series and fanbase that is free of the Joker.
Harley Quinn has also become an icon of the LGBT community since comic book writers, Jimmy Palmioti and Amanda Conner, confirmed that Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy are in an open romantic relationship. For years, fans had speculated that Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy were more than just friends and now it's confirmed that Harley is bisexual.