The concept of a film focusing on The Clown Prince of Crime and his Harley Queen has been floating around since Margot Robbie and Jared Leto appeared in Suicide Squad.
It’s just a question of successfully selling the antithesis of a perfect relationship to the audience without the watered down approach to appease obvious sensitivities.
Screenwriters Glenn Ficara and John Requa, the latter of Crazy, Stupid, Love, believe their draft of a screenplay has an approach that may prove to be the answer, and it draws on two opposing extremes.
“We had so much fun,” Ficarra said, “I don’t know if we had more fun writing a script in our career. [It] was sort of like, we wrote Bad Santa a couple of years ago, and it was that sensibility that was mixed with our This is Us sensibility. We kind of meshed them together. [We wanted to start the film with Harley and the clown kidnapping Dr. Phil] because her and Joker are having problems with their relationship.”
It’s a delicate formula to master because this isn’t Clark Kent and Lois Lane, Reed Richards and Sue Storm, or even Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson. Since their 35-year relationship’s inception in 1993’s Batman: The Animated Series episode “Joker’s Favor,” it’s been defined as dysfunctional, one-sided, abusive, toxic, and occasionally life-threatening.
Harleen Quinzel, a rookie resident psychiatrist at Arkham Asylum, who seeks to understand and cure the most dangerous of Gotham City’s insane inmates, The Joker. However, in a matter of weeks, turns the tables and not only makes her fall in love with him, but drives her insane as well by exploiting her own inner demons. Since then, he and the rechristened Harley Quinn have broken up, reconciled, and tried to kill each other over and over. Reinterpretations in The New 52 era of DC Comics even saw Joker convince Harley to expose herself to the same chemical bath that originally bleached his skin at Ace Chemicals, a scene brought to life in Suicide Squad.
However, it is not only a question of Ficara and Requa’s approach being the right one, but also where a Joker & Harley Quinn film will fit in WB’s schedule of DC Films, especially when Robbie will be starring in an R-rated Harley Quinn film, and Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker film already generating buzz. Further, will there be a cameo by Batman himself? Capturing this couple’s angst and problems is on the level of trying to capture lightning in a bottle. It depends also on the perfect formula of a good script, a director with the right vision, and the right players.
Is the Joker-Harley relationship best defined as Bad Santa meets This is Us?
The answer to that question could be either as hilarious as to why the chicken crosses the road, or as abysmal as The New 52.