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Harley Quinn is no doubt one of the brightest stars in Suicide Squad. As a character, she's manipulative, funny, psychotic, and unpredictable ... which is exactly how Harley should be. Margot Robbie really knocked it out of the park with her performance as the former psychiatrist turned criminal sidekick.
However, like most good things, Harley wasn't completely flawless. There are also some unnecessarily confusing errors made with the foundation of her character development. Continuity has proven to be a problem within the DC Extended Universe (so far), and Suicide Squad was certainly no exception.
Let's focus on a couple of the most glaring errors in Harley Quinn's development and examine whether these issues are grounds for more problems in the future.
Was Harley Quinn an accomplice to Robin's murder if she wasn't Harley Quinn yet?
First of all, there is a pretty big problem regarding the revelation of Harley Quinn being an accomplice to the murder of Jason Todd. Director David Ayer spoke out after the initial criticism hit regarding Suicide Squad, took the opportunity to explain the Joker's appearance ... and inadvertently contradicted his own film in the process:
"This is sort of my personal thing and maybe less about a larger connection. But Joker killed Robin and Batman basically smashes his teeth out and locks him up in Arkham Asylum. It's in the asylum where Joker would have done the 'damaged' tattoo as a message to Batman saying, 'You've damaged me. I was so beautiful before and now you've destroyed my face.' That's where the grill comes from."
That explanation makes sense and would have fit within the timeline that Warner Bros. is trying to set up within the DCEU. Not to mention, it would have been fun to actually see on screen. A fight between the Joker and Batman is even one of the rumored deleted scenes from Suicide Squad.
The problem with this explanation is the fact that Harley Quinn doesn't fit into it at all.
If the Joker murdered Robin with Harley's help and was subsequently beaten by Batman, that would mean that he should have looked "normal" while institutionalized at Arkham Asylum in Harley Quinn's origins segment. The "damaged" tattoo wouldn't have been there, his teeth would have been normal, and he might not have had such a scarred face.
However, he did not appear any different than we've seen him while in the care of Dr. Harleen Quinzel in Arkham Asylum. He was fully equipped with his silver teeth and "damaged" tattoo in what would appear to be months or years prior to Dr. Quinzel's transformation into Harley Quinn via the Ace Chemicals acid bath.
This leaves us with the question of, how could Harley Quinn have been an accomplice to the murder if she wasn't even Harley Quinn yet?
Harley's age doesn't make any realistic sense
Another inconsistent piece of information regarding Harley Quinn lies within her criminal file that was in the possession of Amanda Waller. This record, found in the companion book "Suicide Squad: Behind the Scenes with the Worst Heroes Ever," highlights her history -- including arrests, charges, and her obsession with the Joker.
It's not as extensive as you'd expect, but here are some key points:
- Harleen Quinzel was born on July 20, 1990, making her just 26 years old by the time the events in Suicide Squad happen.
- She has five arrests on record with the first occurring on June 30, 2009 and the most recent on March 3, 2016. And yes, that means she would have only been 18 years old when she started her life of crime.
- There is no murder charge on her record, so we can assume that she really did not kill Robin. One plausible charge that could be related to Robin is the kidnapping offense that occurred on February 11, 2010. Maybe she abducted Robin and brought him to the Joker?
This criminal record gives us a lot of insight into Harley Quinn's history, but it's unfortunately pretty unrealistic. When you look at this record and also take her professional life in mental health into consideration, a lot of things don't add up.
Basically, Harleen Quinzel would not have been able to acquire such a promising career and criminal record by the age of 26.
If Harleen attended college at 18 years old and completed a bachelor's degree on time, she would have graduated college by 22. After completing her degree, she would have needed to pass the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) to be eligible for medical school, which is usually another four-year process. After medical school, she would have been able to seek residency, which in this case is probably when she entered Arkham Asylum.
Psychiatric residencies are supervised and can last anywhere from four to eight years before residents may become licensed and board-certified. Basically, Harleen was looking at a 12-year process, which would have made her at least 30 when all was said and done.
When you actually do the math, you realize that Suicide Squad's version of Harley Quinn is simply too young. We don't know how long she was at Arkham when she was assigned to the Joker or why a resident was left with him unsupervised. It is possible that Harleen would have been in her mid-20s by the time she made it to Arkham as a resident, but that doesn't solve the inconsistencies that her criminal record introduces.
With her first arrest occurring in 2009 at the age of 18, David Ayer is essentially expecting us to believe that she was a psychiatric resident at Arkham for who knows how long before transitioning into the "Queen of Gotham City." That's all well and good if it wasn't supposed to have happened before her 19th birthday.
Unless Harleen was on track to be the next Doogie Howser, M.D., it's just not plausible.
Will these errors hurt Harley Quinn's future in the DCEU?
It's hard to say what will happen to Harley Quinn as the DCEU moves forward. An untitled 2019 project is rumored to be Harley's solo movie, but whether they will stick with everything that happened in Suicide Squad is a bit of an unknown. Seeing as how Wonder Woman was set in the WWI-era (and didn't have anything to do with Suicide Squad), we probably won't know the full effect Suicide Squad has had on the DCEU until Justice League.
Some fans are even calling for the studio to fix the relationship between Harley and the Joker to make it more accurate to the source material. But it's worth mentioning that a lot of characters within the DCEU have suffered from stunted development, including fellow Task Force X members. For me, personally, I just don't see how Warner Bros. managed to let these things slip by. Either they really don't care or no one caught it.
However, these mistakes aren't completely not fixable. The continuity error regarding her involvement with the murder of Robin could be fixed or re-imagined, and the issues with her age could even be cleared up. After all, not everyone has read the companion books to Suicide Squad. At this point, anything is possible.