As revealed during The Suicide Squad FanDome panel, writer-director James Gunn has a lot of new, never-before seen toys to play with in his next superhero movie. At the panel alone, he revealed Idris Elba is portraying Bloodsport and Peter Capaldi is The Thinker, to name but a few. Yet, even so, his favorite character to write is Harley Quinn, as played by Margot Robbie, bar none.
The breakout fan favorite character in 2016’s Suicide Squad, Robbie’s interpretation of the one-time Joker henchwoman turned antihero extraordinaire was so winning that Harley got her spinoff in this year’s Birds of Prey movie. And like just about everyone else who’s gotten the chance to write or portray the character, who was originally created for Batman: The Animated Series by Paul Dini and Bruce Timm, and voiced by Arleen Sorkin, Gunn couldn’t resist the anarchic glee Quinn brings to the written page or screen.
“I think the character I was most excited to write for was Harley Quinn,” Gunn explained. “I loved this character ever since Paul Dini first put her in animated shows. I think there’s a sort of chaotic trickster god nature to her, where she’s just always going off in random directions. As a writer that’s a really fun thing to deal with, because she takes you to places where you don’t know you’re going to go. So a lot of it was me writing for Harley, and a lot of it was Harley doing some of the writing for me during The Suicide Squad.”
Gunn is not the first writer to have that impression of the character, who won over Robbie so much while filming the first Suicide Squad movie she began exploring then the possibility of developing and producing a spinoff film. It also might explain why Gunn is returning the character to more of her original look in Batman: The Animated Series with a black and red color scheme.
Of course Harley is just one component of the movie for Gunn, as the filmmaker himself was a Suicide Squad fan since the beginning.
“I read John Ostrander’s original run of Suicide Squad,” Gunn said. “So I remember reading the very first issue of that run, and falling in love with the concept and the characters. I loved the movie The Dirty Dozen that came out in the ‘60s, and this was like a supervillain version of The Dirty Dozen, and I loved the character of Amanda Waller who was so different for the time, in terms of being a strong woman but kind of an antihero. Kind of bad, kind of good, not physically the same as everyone else you saw in comic books, and I just thought she was so cool.”
In fact, Gunn later revealed that he considers his The Suicide Squad movie to be a sequel of sorts to that original run, which ran throughout the late ‘80s, beginning in May 1987.
“I actually had a long talk with John Ostrander about this, because he came and visited the set. And I said I don’t think of this movie so much as an adaptation of your comics. I think of this movie as a sequel to your comics, to your run in the comic books.”
But a sequel with new characters who weren’t there in ’87, whether that means they were never in the Suicide Squad, like Polka-Dot Man, or if they weren’t even invented yet, such as a gangster moll in a children’s cartoon. But now that Harley is about to join that specific type of Suicide Squad when the soft-reboot of the franchise opens on Aug. 6, 2021.