Everybody loves Harley Quinn. Since her first appearance in Batman: The Animated Series, Harley's devoted fanbase has just continued to grow — and so has the character. From her beginnings as the hopelessly devoted girlfriend/plaything of the Joker, Harley's comic book journey has seen her leave the #Joker behind to become her own villain. She's even got her own band of Harley-minions and a new (and much healthier) relationship with Poison Ivy.
In live-action, meanwhile, Harley has been popping up all over the place. She made her first appearance in an Arrow cameo, when the CW series was setting up their version of the Suicide Squad. Harley appeared up to ask Amanda Waller and John Diggle if they needed some help talking things out — after all, she's a trained therapist! However, this was only a small cameo, and the audience never even saw her face, just her pigtails.
Harley got her shot at the spotlight soon after, however, in Suicide Squad. While the film itself was far from perfect, Margot Robbie's take on the iconic character was so well received that #DC has now announced a Harley-centric sequel: Gotham City Sirens.
While Margot Robbie is killing it on the big screen, it looks like there's a new Harley coming to the small screen on Fox's #Gotham. Ever since the show's version of Barbara Kean (Erin Richards) started turning to the dark side, fans have been wondering whether this adorable and deadly blonde would turn into the show's version of Harley. The actress herself has confirmed that there have been "conversations" about the possibility, although EP Danny Cannon has refused to confirm whether this was the arc planned for Barbara (in an interview with CBR).
"I can’t. I can’t. All I can tell you is, the great thing, the joy of working with Erin is the range. The reason we changed her character, [is] because we knew what she could do. We’re like, ‘We can’t keep you in one place. You’ve got to keep evolving.’ So she’s going to evolve again. That’s all I can tell you."
Then last month, CBR shared a new promo image for the show revealing Barbara's new look, with some lighting that definitely makes it seem that her "evolution" will be into the chaos-loving Harley.
Harley And The Joker
Gotham is known for making some fairly big changes to comic book canon, but if Barbara does become Harley, it would be one of the biggest yet. In the comics, Harley is created by the Joker, while working as his psychiatrist at Arkham. On Gotham, the Joker is still being created himself. Jerome is the most likely candidate for the Clown Prince of Crime, but he's far from the fully developed villain that drove Dr. Harleen Quinzel to insanity.
The two have met, though, when Jerome and Barbara were both working with the Galavans to wreak havoc in Gotham City. However, their connection was tenuous, and while it's possible that Jerome and Barbara may work together again, the power dynamic is totally different. Barbara is older than Jerome, much more powerful, already insane (thanks to the Ogre), and in a relationship with Tabitha Galavan. The chances of her falling for Jerome are incredibly slim, but that's not a bad thing.
A Whole New Harley
The Harley that Gotham seems to be building toward is one that skips much of Harley's early history in an abusive relationship, and leaps straight to her glorious insanity as an independent woman — and that's not a bad thing. Margot Robbie is currently doing a phenomenal job portraying the more classic Harley/Joker dynamic, so it's fantastic to see a different version of the character brought to life on the small screen.
A rising star in the criminal underworld, the Barbara version of the character is one that doesn't need her poisonous relationship with the Joker to exist, or to become the criminal mastermind that fans want to see. This is a new Harley — a more powerful Harley — one with agency, ability and a relationship with someone who sees her as an equal, not a toy. And with Richards's talent for playing her charming madness, this could be just as fun a Harley to watch as the one on the big screen.
Of course, there's no guarantee that this is where Barbara Kean is going on Gotham, but with everything pointing in that direction, it seems only a matter of time before the Barbara/Harley fans get what they've been waiting for.
Do you want to see Barbara become Harley Quinn on 'Gotham'?