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Margot Robbie and Jared Leto appeared in Suicide Squad as Harley Quinn and Joker. The movie offered a glimpse of the relationship between the two characters as seen in the comics. The first trailer for Birds of Prey shows the aftermath of Harley Quinn’s break-up from Joker.

Harley Quinn Joker Birds of Prey
Margot Robbie and Jared Leto | Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Harley Quinn and Joker first appeared in ‘Suicide Squad’

Suicide Squad came out in 2016. The movie was largely panned by critics, but some performances in the movie were praised. Robbie’s performance was considered a shining point of the movie, while fans were split down the middle about Leto’s take on Joker. Even with fans split, most were disappointed at Leto’s lack of screen time and the director of the film regrets not making Joker a larger role in the movie.

Suicide Squad centered around Harley Quinn and showed how she came to be in flashbacks. In the movie, viewers saw Harleen Quinzel meet and fall in love with Joker. She then becomes Harley Quinn and the rest is history. Throughout Suicide Squad, Joker attempts to break Harley out of prison, finally succeeding at the end.

The relationship between Harley Quinn and Joker is abusive

The relationship between the two characters first came to be 25 years ago in Batman: The Animated Series. Since then, several different versions of the characters and their relationship have appeared in DC comics, movies, and TV series. In all of these versions, the relationship between Harley and Joker is abusive.

The couple constantly breaks up and gets back together, and Joker oftentimes abuses Harley physically and emotionally. In Suicide Squad, the relationship between the two was more equal. Harley had more agency, and Joker actually seemed to care for her. However, the relationship was still dysfunctional.

‘Suicide Squad’ changed the nature of their relationship

While not as dysfunctional as past versions, the toxic nature of Harley Quinn and Joker’s relationship is present in Suicide Squad. Annoyed with Harleen’s insistence on being in his life, Joker takes her to a vat of chemicals and asks her to fall into them to prove her love. He plans to leave her to die, but instead jumps in after her to rescue her. That scene marks Harleen’s transformation into Harley Quinn, and afterwards she sports the same bleached skin and insanity as Joker.

In the comic version of that scene, Joker pushes Harley into the vat of chemicals to force her transformation. The scene in Suicide Squad still includes manipulation on Joker’s part and co-dependency with both characters, but it does remove the physical abuse from the comics. The reason for this? Suicide Squad cut and re-shot original scenes to make the relationship less abusive.

Based on the first trailer for the movie, rumors from test screenings, and footage from the set, the original version of Harley Quinn and Joker in Suicide Squad was true to the comics. One leaked video from the set shows Joker slapping Harley and her falling to the ground, but that moment never appeared in the movie or the later-released deleted scene.

Harley Quinn and Joker are not together in ‘Birds of Prey’

In the opening of the first Birds of Prey trailer, Harley Quinn narrates to the audience that she and Joker broke up. The full title of the movie is Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn). Based on the title alone, the movie seems to acknowledge that the relationship between Harley Quinn and Joker was abusive and Harley finally breaks away.

“The fact that this movie touches on Joker and Harley Quinn’s abusive relationship after so many fetishized it in Suicide Squad is funny,” wrote a Twitter user.

The movie shows Harley Quinn escaping the abusive relationship

Newer comic book story lines have Harley Quinn breaking away from her abusive relationship with Joker, and Birds of Prey seems to be following this. In some versions, Harley Quinn enters a relationship with Poison Ivy. While Poison Ivy is not in the character list for Birds of Prey, some fans hope she will appear in the after-credits scene of the movie. Other fans think Birds of Prey could lead into a Gotham City Sirens movie with Poison Ivy and Catwoman.

Right now, it’s not known if Jared Leto’s Joker will ever appear again. As of August 2019, an untitled movie about Harley Quinn and Joker is still in development. It’s unknown if the film will ever move past the development stage.

Will Harley Quinn stay away from Joker and join forces with Poison Ivy and Catwoman? Or will she eventually fall back into a relationship with Joker? Right now, Harley Quinn and Joker are not together, and only time will tell which direction Warner Bros will take the character.