A Beautiful Pain
A tale as old as time, if I should say so myself. Every hero and every villain has some sort of weak spot, some kind of kryptonite, some sort of Louis Lane, some sort of...well you get the idea. And in this case, we have the wonderful Prince of Madness himself...and his just-as-crazy princess.
If you have read DC's comic books, watched the beloved tv shows, or just simply watched the [Suicide Squad](tag:2283363) trailer (the new one ehehe):
Then you certainly have heard of Harley Quinn. More so, you have an understanding that she holds a romantic relationship with our iconic Joker. Or, if you disagree, you would state that she holds an abusive, submissive relationship with him. Whichever one you agree with is totally up to you. I think what we should do is get an understanding of the relationship between the two; whether it be abusive, romantic, or simply outright insane.
Ahem, Origins Please?
Before we divulge into the fantastic art of relationships (sarcasm noted), we should probably identify the two characters we have before us. So, let's do that.
Harley Quinn, A.K.A. Dr. Harleen Quinzel
The majority of us fans understand that Harley began as a young psychiatrist working in Arkham Asylum, totally exposed to the various characters that inhabit the estranged place. An interesting factor is that Harley enjoyed this, and what I mean by this is that her curiosity overtook her fear, willing her to discover the origins and stories behind these trapped individuals.
Of course, a character that Harley was highly fascinated in was the Joker himself. As we all know, the Joker is a deranged character, who actually does not hold an origin story (though I'm sure DC is soon to release it). Sadly Harley became obsessed with discovering the Joker's mind and how it worked, which...well as they say, "curiosity killed the cat."
That's right folks, Harley fell in love with the Joker. In my opinion, she fell in love with him through the common belief/motif that anyone who appears truly broken can be fixed. I am quite sad to say that her reasoning is not too knew: she is so desperate to fix the deranged yet beautiful person she has come across. But there is also the idea that they hold a mutual understanding of one another (at least at first, before the two of them actually get together), the Joker tricking Harley into believing that he understands her, and her him, to result in the idea that they were meant for each other. Harley, I believe, also wants to assure him that she is willing to help him all the way, transforming herself into Harley Quinn, in order to become the Clown Princess to the Clown Prince.
At this rate, she breaks him out, and that's when the real fun begins.Not signed in
Here's a clip that, I believe, displays Harley's dedication to the joker:
As mentioned before, the Joker does not really own an origin story. Based off his character, one can perhaps presume that he suffered from abuse, as mentioned in the video above. But there is no pure evidence for that, since the Joker never really reveals his vulnerability. He may show some to Harley at times, but that usually is followed with a big slap from 'Mistah J'. And perhaps, since the Joker abuses Harley, it may add as proof that he had been abused in his early stages since such actions can leave psychological scars.
The Perfect Two?
Now since we've covered the origins, its time to debate whether or not their relationship is really that...wonderful.
The one side to this relationship that is very obvious is that it is abusive. There are so many moments within the comics, even in the tv shows, when the Joker hits Harley, throws her out of windows, or downright rejects her. This shows the placements within the relationship; the Joker being the dominant and Harley left with being the submissive. In normal cases, this wouldn't be too worried about since all relationships have that placement. But it is too risky in the Joker's case. Why, you ask? Well because he's the Joker, you can't get crazier than that.Not signed in
Many people claim that Harley is simply another victim of the Joker, she even claimed that she was brainwashed by him in Batman: Arkham Asylum interview tapes. The difference between her and his other victims is the fact that she always comes back to him, regardless of how many times he pushes her away. It appears "Jack" uses Harley as a dog, only using her when he really needs her, and casting her away when she is pointless.
There is also clear evidence that he doesn't care about her at all, and if he does show her any care its fake and superficial, only shown when he wants something from her. The Joker has even left her in jail just so he could have more time outside to himself, and he's done that multiple times. To be frank, the true emotion that he ever shows, quite possibly, is to Batman, since Batman ironically appears as the only character that could possibly be his friend. One cannot have Batman without the Joker, or neither would serve a dutiful purpose.Not signed in
Perhaps Harley is not Joker's kryptonite, but he is hers. Throughout so many episodes, Harley always assures that regardless of how much the Joker has hurt her, she will always love "her puddin' ". There are episodes where it appears that Harley has realized what the Joker has done to her, how he has hurt her and ruined the woman she was before. Yet, when she crosses paths with him, she always crawls back to him desperately. This can be seen in Arkham Assault, where she truly claims that everything between the Joker and herself was truly nothing, but at the end she goes back to him, telling Batman:
"Sure my puddin' can be rough sometimes, but you're the one always hurting me"
Where she goes back to her usual ways, blaming the Dark Knight and going back to the Clown Prince of Crime. So, just like Superman losing his wits around the exposure of kryptonite, Harley loses her mind to the Joker.Not signed in
Joker's perspective of Harley varies from adventure to adventure, at times he does everything to get her attention and impress her. And yet there are times where he is willing to leave her to rot in prison as he makes his escape. It isn't truly confirmed why exactly did the Joker brainwash Harley in the first place. Since he'd do anything for a laugh, being his heartless self, he may have done it as a joke. Possibly, as well, to smack Arkham Asylum in the face by taking one of their well-trained psychiatrists and turning her insane. Also, she could have just been an escape gadget since she's an employee, and could have facilitated his escape.
It appears that the Joker simply keeps her around since he trusts her, and will let go of her if it is too much trouble to save her. Proving their relationship to be very one-sided, seeing that Harley will do absolutely anything for him, and the feeling is not mutual.
Perhaps the Joker simply does not care.
But, as well all know, there are always two sides to a fight. Despite the known fact that he is abusive towards her, even the Joker has his weak times, and he'll need someone to lean on to. That someone is Harley.
Here's a clip that I really enjoy, it proves that he can at times appreciate her:
Since, as stated before, the relationship appears as a one-sided relationship, that doesn't stop the idea that the Joker may in fact have feelings for Harley. The problem is that he doesn't know how to show those feelings. Due to his tragic past (we can only presume he has had one), the Joker may be capable of distinguishing right and wrong, and know what love is, but he may have alienated these feelings. Perhaps because he associates these emotions with vulnerability, which a villain definitely cannot show, or it would be used against him.
Many people disagree with this theory, mainly because if it is true, the Joker is not as evil as he is portrayed to be. But, this can hold sarcastic irony, only making the Joker's character much more malevolent. This is because he knows the difference, but he ignores it. Which only makes him more devious. So he knows what love is, and morals, but ignores them, he has abandoned them. Which only makes him a truly tragic clown.
In The Killing Joke, an origin for the Joker is placed where he has a superbly tragic backstory, similar to Bruce Wayne's in the context that he is truly alone (well, then again Bruce has Alfred). According to the comic, the Joker once had a pregnant wife who died, he was a failed comedian and fell into a vat of chemicals (I am unsure about how these events played out, but they are still significant). There is a moment where Batman offers to help him, but he admits that no one can fix him, giving the understanding that the Joker is a terrible person, who seems to hate himself, and is highly insecure. Also in the graphic novel from Bermejo/Azzarello, it states that he's a disease with no cure.
Being insecure, this leaves space for desperation. Especially for attention. And this is where Harley comes in. The Joker doesn't care about her in the first place, when he first encounters her. But she reawakens Joker's humanity regardless of how much he as concealed it, and he hates that she's done this but he can't resist. Him falling for her becomes inevitable, despite himself knowing that deep down he is a horrendous individual, yet capable of love and sympathy.
In the Bermejo/Azzarello Graphic novel, he tells Johnny Frost how he hates apologies and envied a serial killer who showed no remorse to his actions, which Joker does do to a point. In No Man's Land, he attempted to kill Harley because of her making him fall for her.
Regardless of that, debatably the most iconic scene in the Bermejo/Azzarello graphic novel is when the Joker is on his knees clutching at Harley as he cries, displaying her as the stable individual in the relationship. An ironic factor is that, in the comic, Harley looks much like Joker's wife Jeanni, which may be a root cause for his occasional hatred towards Harley.
Nonetheless, he still displays a very human side, one that is subliminally devoted to Harley.Not signed in
Is it Worth it?
So there you have it, the two sides to the relationship held between the Joker and Harley Quinn. Whether or not it is 'worth' it, is truly up to you. Perhaps their relationship truly is the epiphany of domestic abuse, or a deranged form of romance, maybe a desperate romantic connection between the two where one inevitably crawls back to the other, or downright insane.
The choice is yours.
Make sure to watch Suicide Squad, and we'll see what David Ayer has to say about Harley and her 'Mistah J'.