Compared with the clear-cut noble heroes of the DC universe, Harley Quinn gets away with metaphorical (and sometimes real) murder. Being a member of the Suicide Squad comes with a whole set of shady perks — the kind of morally dark, R-rated hijinks that Bruce Wayne, one of DC’s ultimate dyed-in-the-wool do-gooders, knows to give a wide berth.
Or does he? Now that DC has branched out with more mature takes on superhero tales with HBO-appropriate shows like the animated Harley Quinn series, the creative room to push the boundaries has gotten a lot bigger ... if not on the big screen, then at least in the more experimental reaches of the DC hero pantheon. Voiced by Kaley Cuoco, the ‘toon version of Harley hangs tight (and sometimes even surpasses) her comics and movie counterparts when it comes to frequent swearing, cavorting with the wrong crowd, and cracking random skulls.
But that’s Harley. Surely Batman himself wouldn’t be tied into the more risqué ... would he? Well, the creative minds behind the Harley Quinn series recently shared with Variety that they tried to make it happen, before the higher-ups at DC descended with a mandate to have Bruce Wayne grappling-hook his way out of what could’ve been truly risqué territory.
“It’s incredibly gratifying and free to be using characters that are considered villains because you just have so much more leeway,” said Justin Halpern, one of Harley Quinn’s co-creators and executive producers, before delving into a tawdry unmade scene — one that would’ve taken Batman way outside his typical zone.
“A perfect example of that is in this third season of Harley [when] we had a moment where Batman was going down on Catwoman. And DC was like, ‘You can’t do that. You absolutely cannot do that.’ They’re like, ‘Heroes don’t do that.’ So, we said, ‘Are you saying heroes are just selfish lovers?’ They were like, ‘No, it’s that we sell consumer toys for heroes. It’s hard to sell a toy if Batman is also going down on someone.’”
Darkness in all its forms surrounds the Caped Crusader: It’s part of his long-running mystique. And there’s no question that Bruce has had his share of chances, over the decades, to indulge in some decidedly non-heroic hedonism. Christopher Nolan teased that very idea in Batman Begins, when Bruce (Christian Bale) shows up at his own birthday party looking like a debauched playboy, swilling wine and frolicking with supermodels (though he ended up having a truly heroic reason). But DC’s point seems to be that, even with all his wealth and worldly connections, Batman may have seen it all, but like a stoic superhero, he probably doesn’t do it all. At least not as far as they want to confirm on-screen.
Harley, on the other hand, pretty much gets to do whatever she likes — and as the first two seasons of the animated series have shown, her appetite for mayhem and hedonism is more than big enough to carry the DC universe on its back. DC hasn’t yet revealed a premiere date for Season 3 of Harley Quinn, but it’s expected to arrive with 10 new episodes sometime later this year (or early 2022) on HBO Max.