The trailers made David Ayer’s film — which teams up some of DC’s most ruthless bad guys and girls, including Deadshot, Harley Quinn, and Killer Croc — look like a fun and funny romp, the antidote to Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice‘s unceasing doom and gloom. The trailers lied, despite (or possibly because of) Suicide Squad being edited by the same company behind the popular teasers. That resulted in two cuts of the movie — “Ayer’s downbeat version, and a wacky graphics and classic rock-packed take cooked up by the trailer guys” — being smashed together, leading to “a lot of panic and ego.”
Suicide Squad is too incoherent to have any one identity, which is a shame because it could have been wonderful and, most of all, weird. So much of the pre-release buzz was centered on Jared Leto’s gross gifts, and how there was an on-set therapist for the actors, and how it was going to be like Deadpool, which isn’t a great movie, but at least it’s entertaining. Yet little of that twisted edginess — as Leto would no doubt put it — made it to the big screen.
If you want weird and you want Harley Quinn, the Joker, and Batman, look to the small screen, where Fox’s Batman: The Animated Series aired from 1992 to 1995. TV Guide called the visually stunning noir-classic the seventh greatest cartoon of all-time, and, for me at least, it’s the defining Batman look. Ben Affleck ain’t got nothing on Kevin Conroy. After sitting through Suicide Squad, I re-watched every Harley episode of The Animated Series (it’s where she made her debut) and was struck by how charmingly odd they are.
Below, you’ll find every time she makes an appearance, and two or three of the episode’s oddest moments. Margot Robbie did a fine job in Suicide Squad, but she can’t compete Arleen Sorkin’s original interpretation of the character (or with being dragged around Gotham by two hyenas).
“Joker’s Favor” (1992)
• Charlie Collins is a normal Gotham City citizen who’s having a really bad day. That’s all it takes “to reduce the sanest man alive to lunacy,” and Charlie goes a little nuts when he gets cuts off by — you guessed it — the Clown Prince of Crime. The poor schlub tries to stick up for himself before realizing he messed with the wrong maniac; the Joker is all set to kill Charlie until he says he’ll do anything to save his life. Two years later, the Joker calls in the favor: for Charlie to open a door so Harley can deliver a (poisonous) cake. That’s it.
• One of the Joker’s goons reads a Tiny Toon Adventures comic, based on the animated series where key Batman: The Animated Series talents like Bruce Timm and Paul Dini — Harley’s co-creators — got their start.
• The Joker plans to kill Commissioner Gordon and other Gotham bigwigs with a bomb that looks like… the Joker. Also, some guy confuses Harley for a stripper because she’s in a police officer’s uniform. This is a kids’ show.