Harley Quinn is somewhat of an enigma when it comes to comic books. Easily one of the most popular female characters from the DC universe, Harley's character actually has a fairly short history in the comics, only being around since 1992.
She's been retconned and rebooted more times than you can shake a baseball bat at, and it looks like the upcoming and massively anticipated Suicide Squad might give her yet another origin story, or otherwise draw from the New 52 comics.
The Birth of Harley Quinn
Initially introduced as a sidekick character and romantic interest back in Batman: The Animated Series to fill a role that wasn't suitable for the Joker, Harley quickly became popular with the fans through her appearances in other animated media and she was introduced into the DC comic book canon shortly thereafter.
She's currently got her own series (which I highly recommend) as part of the current New 52 run, she gets more of own personal narrative in which she breaks away from the Joker to form her separate story following the events of the Death Of The Family crossover (again, highly recommend, though it is super dark). She also forms part of the Suicide Squad in their New 52 iteration, something which the Joker isn't too happy about.
Harley's Mad Love origin in the comic book canon is the most widely known of her introductory stories. As Doctor Harleen Quinn she meets the Joker when interning at Arkham Asylum, is seduced into falling in love with him and subsequently into insanity, trading in her lab coat for a clown costume and becoming his accomplice.
We're still not one hundred percent sure which origin she'll be given in Suicide Squad, but the recent trailer does seem to suggest that we'll be seeing a take on her New 52 origins in which the Joker throws her into a vat of chemicals, echoing the most popular of his own personal collection of origin stories. The chemicals bleach her skin white and give her the distinctive pink and purple hairstyle we see Margot Robbie sporting in Suicide Squad.
There's some issues with choosing this specific narrative to adapt, mainly due to the fact that this particular origin removes her own agency in making a decision to become Harley Quinn, placing that choice instead in the hands of the Joker. Given the abusive overtones of their relationship this is a tricky issue, and how they handle it will be key to the reception of the DC Cinematic Universe Harley Quinn.
The Suicide Squad Trailers
She's been front and centre in the trailers and promo material, and it's not just the sparkly outfit that's caught people's attention. Harley's popularity caught like wildfire when she was first introduced in the animates series, prompting her inclusion into the comic books and Batman video games.
She's developed from an air-headed, lovesick hench(wo)man to a strong, sassy and well rounded character over the twenty four years of her existence. The New 52 Harley Quinn sees her striking out on her own, independent from both the Joker and the Suicide Squad, and it feels more like this is the Harley we'll be seeing in Suicide Squad.
She's got a hell of a lot of baggage nipping at her heels though, and the shadow of the Joker still follows her, but the New 52 more so than ever she skirts the boundary of villain and anti-hero. So what about our Suicide Squad Harley Quinn?
In the first trailer we saw her as the pre-Harley Quinn: Dr. Harleen Quinzel. Blonde hair, glasses, looking terrified, strapped to a table as the Joker stands over her and tells her: "I'm not gonna kill ya, I'm just gonna hurt ya. Really really badly."
We got a hint of Harley then but it wasn't until the recent Bohemian Rhapsody themed trailer than we really saw her in full Jester mode, and her presence stood head and shoulders above the rest of the cast.
Why Is This Important?
As it stands right now it's looking highly likely that Suicide Squad may, as Forbes point out, "accidentally end up being the first female-centric superhero comic book movie in the modern age". And that's a pretty big deal.
After years of humming and hawing from Marvel over their treatment of lead MCU female character Black Widow / Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) it looks like the first modern superhero film to really give narrative focus over to a female comic book character may be Suicide Squad (discounting the likes of Catwoman and Elektra, we pretend those don't exist).
As it stands our comic book Harley Quinn is more of an anti-hero than an villain, following her own moral compass (though usually through immoral or illegal means) and she's even gone back to being a psychiatrist part-time, now that she's free of her Puddin'.
She's also much more independent and happy go lucky than the tortured Harley of the past; this is the one we'd really like to see being brought to life on screen, and the recent trailer suggests we might just be granted our wish.
As always, we'll have to just wait and see what Suicide Squad brings us when it releases this summer, set to drop August 5, 2016 in the US. Can't wait.