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SDCC: DC Universe screens hilariously meta season premiere of Harley Quinn series

By Josh Weiss
Harley Quinn

This year's SDCC got a sh** ton funnier when DC Universe debuted the first episode of its animated Harley Quinn series. Feeling like a true cousin to Marvel's Deadpool, the season premiere is a hilarious, meta, and violently refreshing deconstruction of the iconic Gotham mythos. Before the pilot screened, Kaley Cuoco introduced it with a pre-filmed video message, voicing her excitement and desire to craft a brand-new version of the character fans have never seen before.

When it comes to the story, we find Harley Quinn (Cuoco) coming to grips with the fact that the Joker (Alan Tudyk) loves Batman (Diedrich Bader) more than he ever loved her. With some support and encouragement from Poison Ivy (Lake Bell), Harley breaks up with the Joker, trades in her classic look for a modern one (think Margot Robbie in Suicide Squad), and sets off on a crusade to replace the Clown Prince of Crime and join the Legion of Doom. Oh, and did we mention that Poison Ivy lives with a sassy Audrey II-esque plant named Frank, voiced by J.B. Smoove?

“We spent a ton of time trying to get the pilot right," said executive producer Justin Halpern, explaining that they really wanted to impress Quinn co-creator Bruce Timm. “We were all working in fear of what [he] was gonna say.”

Watch a brand-new trailer for the series below:

HARLEY QUINN Comic-Con® 2019 Video: First-Look Preview #WBSDCC

Halpern also touched on the look of the show, which is colorful and zippy when compared to the gritty and drab depictions of Batman we've already seen in the media of film, television, and, of course, comic books.

"We didn’t want Gotham to feel dark and grim, because that’s not what Harley sees in it. It’s her playground, so it should look like a playground," he continued.

“[We thought of her as] Mary Tyler Moore if she was a killer," added Patrick Schumacker, another executive producer on the project. "[She's] a constant optimist despite all the viscera ... By Episode 4 or so, she’s solidified the rest of her crew."

An emphasis on over-the-top violence and cursing was very much intentional, as it was meant to harken back to the films of Quentin Tarantino. According to producer Jennifer Coyle, Episode 1's director directly referenced Kill Bill. There ended up being so many curse words uttered that the production crew began an official "'F***' Count." Arrested Development was another point of pop culture inspiration, Halpern admitted.

One of the running gags throughout the program will be a look at what Bane does in between his acts of terror. He's pretty much sh** on regularly by the other Legion of Doom members, who boast Lex Luthor (Giancarlo Esposito) among their ranks.

Harley Quinn

"Does Bane have someone at Starbucks he hates? We did a lot of Bane [gags]," Halpern said with glee.

Harley Quinn premieres on the DC Universe streaming platform this October. No release date has been announced yet. Ron Funches, Wanda Sykes, Natalie Morales, Jason Alexander, Sanaa Lathan, Tony Hale, Christopher Meloni, and Rahul Kohli all lend their voices to the series. In particular, we can confirm that Meloni brings his spot-on comedic timing to the part of Commissioner James Gordon.

The nearly two-hour DC Universe panel also contained the announcement that Season 2 of Titans would premiere Friday, Sept. 6. The show's cast and producers were originally supposed to be present for SDCC, but they decided to stay in Toronto with the rest of the crew following Thursday's accidental death.

Click here for SYFY WIRE’s full coverage of San Diego Comic-Con 2019, including up-to-the-minute news, exclusive interviews, and videos.