ByEleanor Tremeer, writer at Creators.co
MP staff. I talk about Star Wars a lot. Sometimes I'm paid for it.
Eleanor Tremeer

After stealing the show in Suicide Squad, Margot Robbie's solo Harley Quinn movie is well underway, with a writer penning the script, David Ayer attached to direct, and a comic arc to adapt: The fantastic Gotham City Sirens.

Taking place just before the New 52 reset, Gotham City Sirens finds not-so-platonically living with Poison Ivy and wrecking all kinds of havoc, until they decide to kidnap/take Catwoman under their wing. At first this is a bid to discover Batman's true identity (which Selina is aware of, after the events of Hush), but the trio of supervillains decide to team up, leading to all kinds of exciting shenanigans — and an explosion of character development in the comic's emotional final arc, when Harley sets out to kill the Joker.

Harley resolves to murder her abusive ex. [DC]
Harley resolves to murder her abusive ex. [DC]

This comic is hugely influential for several reasons, and it's a crucial step in Harley Quinn's journey away from her abusive relationship with the Joker and towards her bright and autonomous future as her own anti-hero. Poison Ivy has always been an important part of this journey, dating right back to when Harley and Ivy first met in Batman: The Animated Series. And isn't just the first time Harley and Ivy start living together, it's when their relationship moved from friendship to something more...

The distinctly romantic relationship between Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn has become far more obvious in recent years: After DC officially confirmed that the characters are "girlfriends without the jealousy of monogamy," Ivy became a major player in the ongoing Harley Quinn solo comic. The Rebirth issues of this comic have focused heavily on Harley and Ivy's romantic relationship.

Harley and Ivy on a mission in the 'Rebirth' Harley Quinn comic. [DC]
Harley and Ivy on a mission in the 'Rebirth' Harley Quinn comic. [DC]

But that's further down the road. The Gotham City Sirens really kicked off this relationship, suggesting that Harley and Ivy were having sex while living together — and Ivy became the one thing standing between Harley and a "relapse" back into her bad romance with the Joker.

Joker vs Poison Ivy

This all comes to a head when Harley, prompted by memories of the Joker's abuse, sets off on a murderous rampage with one aim in mind: Kill the Joker. It's awesome that we're going to get to see this on the big screen, as focused more on Harley and Joker's romance and less on the bad. Harley's flashbacks in Gotham City Sirens would fill in some of the blanks, revealing to the cinematic audience that yes, the Joker is super abusive and just an overall creep.

Yet, as much as she dearly wants to kill this clown-faced goon, Harley is still a slave to her emotions, and instead she attempts to break the Joker out of Arkham Asylum.

Ivy tries to stop Harley and the Joker escaping Arkham Asylum. [DC]
Ivy tries to stop Harley and the Joker escaping Arkham Asylum. [DC]

This leads to a battle between Ivy, Harley, and the Joker, and despite Ivy giving her friend an ultimatum — "it's the Joker or me" — Harley defeats her. This is thanks to some of Harley's trademark psychoanalysis, as she deduces that Ivy has been in love with her all this time — then uses that love as a weapon.

Ivy dealt with, Harley doesn't get far with the Joker before Catwoman and Batman send her straight back behind Arkham's bars. Ivy eventually breaks out herself, embarking on her own vengeance mission against Harley. But before Ivy can kill her paramour, she has a shocking realization about Harley's addiction to the Joker.

"Will she ever stand by herself? Will she ever be ready? She is in the throes of madness. She sees him, her brain flooding with adrenaline — it makes her excited, nervous — then the feelings start to fade and she needs more. And more. She sees it as a passion, she sees it as love. But it's not. It's addiction. And she's relapsing."

In a poignant and astute inner monologue, Ivy works it all out: Harley's just repeating a pattern of behavior, and she needs Ivy to break the Joker's cycle of abuse.

"And without her I would fall if I grow too tall." [DC]
"And without her I would fall if I grow too tall." [DC]

So instead, Ivy invites Harley to join her in a vengeance mission against Catwoman, whom they blame for their incarceration. Whoever said three villains would play nice together?

Harley's Solo Act

Ultimately though, Ivy and Harley don't kill Catwoman, and as she gives them a head start before catches them, Harley and Ivy also go their separate ways. Telling Ivy that "I'm ready," Harley makes the decision to finally live her own life, free from the Joker and away from Poison Ivy. This leads straight into the New 52 reboot, in which Harley Quinn joins the Suicide Squad. Later on, she goes solo again in the Harley Quinn series — which sees Poison Ivy return as Harley's long-distance girlfriend.

The relationship between Harley and Ivy is fascinating because it's crucial to Harley's own character development: Ivy's love for Harley really helped the Clown Princess break free of her past and forge a new path for herself. And it's super satisfying when Harley encounters the Joker in Arkham again in the solo comic — because this time she beats the living shit out of him.

Harley finally gets some closure — by beating Joker to a bloody pulp. [DC]
Harley finally gets some closure — by beating Joker to a bloody pulp. [DC]

Naturally, Gotham City Sirens is the perfect starting point for a whole series of solo Harley Quinn movies. After teaming up with Catwoman, the next film could follow Harley's solo comic, or finally introduce the Birds of Prey after the team was name-dropped in the initial press release.

But in exploring Harley and Ivy's budding romance, Margot Robbie's Gotham City Sirens movie will be doing something truly awesome, both for Harley's development and for LGBT representation in superhero movies (which is so far practically nonexistent). And if they follow the Gotham City Sirens comic, the Harley Quinn movie should be suitably gay.

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