Major spoilers ahead for Suicide Squad, the kind you don't want in your life until you've seen this movie. You've been warned.
If you saw Suicide Squad this weekend — and a record-breaking number of people did — you probably have a lot of thoughts right now. The exquisite marketing behind this movie may have implied it would be a crowd-pleasing riot, but make no mistake: Squad is almost as polarizing as Batman v Superman. Read on and you'll be tripping on spoilers, so proceed with caution.
Yep, this is a dark movie, both in the DCEU definition of the word (overblown, operatic, almost comical darkness of tone in which bad people do very bad things) and more literally in terms of the muted color palette. But while the whole world is going to have something to say about Suicide Squad, there are a couple of elements to the film which only the most mean-spirited of fanboys could deny were a major success.
Above all else, Harley Quinn is brought to life in the most sensational way by Margot Robbie, whose performance doesn't just meet the hype but surpasses it in style. Harley is not the most loyal member of the Squad, but she's got bartending game and, hidden somewhere beneath the many layers of crazy, a good heart.
David Ayer has done the character justice (seeing her comic book origins come to life via flashbacks is truly thrilling and totally faithful to the source material), and she may now be the single most important person (at least, beyond Batman) in the DCEU — the Iron Man to Bruce Wayne’s Captain America, if you like. It’s for that reason that the very final scene of the movie is such a big deal.
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Just as the Squad are back behind bars in Belle Reve, now with 10 years axed from each of their sentences and a bunch of luxuries as reward for a job well done (Harley gets an espresso machine and a romantic novel, which is kind of hilarious when you consider how warped and morbid her own relationship with Mr. J is), the Joker and his henchmen blast through the wall, take out Harley’s guards and make a break with the Clown Princess in tow.
It’s a pretty outrageous sequence that, in all honesty, probably doesn’t contain a great deal of logic, but it’s quite apparent that this movie was taken apart in the edit by the studio, and it seems a lot of the Joker’s material was cut, so perhaps there’s more in the vaults that we’ll see one day. It doesn’t matter — the point is that, just as she was beginning to see the Squad as her surrogate family, Harley is now on the run, a fugitive of the law on the arm of Gotham’s most infamous, beautifully "damaged" mafia boss.
What that means is that, when she next shows up in the DCEU with her pigtails and her beloved baseball bat, Harley will be one half of a truly villainous duo. She doesn’t need to bend to Amanda Waller’s will and "do some good" — she has the luxury to be straight-up bad, and that’s pretty fucking exciting.
What will that movie be? It could be the all-girl spin-off Margot Robbie has reportedly convinced Warner Bros. to greenlight, or it could be a Joker-centered movie in which he and his girl get their Bonnie and Clyde on. The dynamic Suicide Squad creates between gangster and moll is so new — in his own, uber-twisted way, The Joker genuinely seems to care for Harley, diving into the acid vat when he could have just walked away, arguably even pushing her out of the helicopter to save her life (that scene is a little more ambiguous) — and so fresh that there’s borderline limitless potential to turn this duo into the unlikely saviors of the DCEU. They could also show up as the antagonists of the Ben Affleck-directed The Batman, but DC would be pretty crazy to render Harley Quinn a supporting character — this girl is the main event.
Special kudos to David Ayer for the truly outrageous "dream future" scene which arrives without warning like a lightning bolt from the depths of hell when Enchantress offers the squad everything they desire. The sight of Harley Quinn, hair in rollers, a kid tucked under her arm and another in his high chair, while a black-haired, fresh-faced Joker arrives home from work in business wear and kisses his adoring wife, was at once hilariously disturbing and an awesome advert for why DC should start exploring alternate universes in the DCEU.
However Suicide Squad is ultimately remembered — a missed opportunity, a confused but entertaining movie, or a wild adventure operating on a different level of weird to anything else out there right now — in Harley Quinn, it's given us a new cinematic icon. Long may she reign.
Check out the Movie Pilot exclusive video above for a look back at Harley's greatest moments so far.