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Several big things are different about Harley Quinn in ‘The Suicide Squad’ (including her love life)

  • July 30, 2021

Harley Quinn is single and ready to do more than mingle in “The Suicide Squad,” and no one’s more excited about that than Margot Robbie.

Robbie’s debut as the infamous Batman villainess (and sometime antiheroine) in 2016’s first “Suicide Squad” dealt with her notorious relationship with the Joker, while the pair’s permanent breakup was integral to last year’s “Birds of Prey.” And in writer/director James Gunn’s new “Squad” (in theaters and on HBO Max Aug. 6), Harleyis now navigating killer romantic-comedy hijinks when she’s wooed by a South American island dictator (Juan Diego Botto). 

“Yeah, Harley on the prowl. That was a new aspect to the character that was really fun,” Robbie tells USA TODAY. “She’s always looking for love in the wrong places but she’s given herself a few rules this time to look out for, red flags having learnt from past experiences with Mr. J. But that doesn’t stop every single version of her looking for love ending in disaster.”

While Gunn has a huge cast of personalities in his “Squad” film, and introduced a lovable crew of Marvel misfits in his “Guardians of the Galaxy” movies, Harley was one of his favorite characters to write. “Groot in the comics wasn’t really that consistent. He was different things. He really came to life in his cinematic form,” Gunn says.

However, Harley – criminal psychiatrist turned homicidal moll – “came to me pretty much fully formed,” Gunn says. “It was really just me letting that character be fully her true self and going hog wild with that.”

The director and Robbie could change whatever they wanted about Harley, so they got rid of the “Rotten” tattoo along her jawline that Harley’s been sporting since the original “Squad.” Gunn thought it was “ugly,” he says. “And also Margo didn’t like it. It takes a lot of time to put on and I didn’t find it aesthetically pleasing.”

One idea that Gunn implemented was the concept of “Harley Vision”: When she goes to town on a bunch of goons while breaking out of imprisonment, cartoon flowers and birds fill the air as Harley leaves a trail of broken bodies and bloody corpses behind her. “I just wanted to create a movie where we had no rules and we see through her eyes,” Gunn says.

Robbie “loved” the post-modern element and recalls that when Gunn described it to her, she knew he was the right man for the job. “He’s like, ‘The blood on the wall is going to turn into flowers,’ and I was just like, ‘Oh, this guy totally gets her! This is absolutely the way I think of her.’ It’s all based the research I’ve done over the years into what specific versions of mental illness might Harley have and how does she see the world and what is her moral compass? Where does she draw the line?

“It’s so fun to have that foundation of what you’ve prepped, but then also just put it into a big crazy playground the way you get to do with James in these films. It is entertaining, but also, yeah, it means something to him and to me.”

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