This Harley Quinn article contains spoilers.
After two seasons of will they won’t they, Harley Quinn season two ended on a high as Harley and Ivy finally got together. Season three follows on directly from that epic finale, finding the girls on their honeymoon in none other than Superman‘s Fortress of Solitude. When we spoke with show creators Justin Halpern and Patrick Schumacker, the pair told us that giving the duo a little time to relax and enjoy each other was always the plan.
From the outset the team had a clear plan on the trajectory of their smash hit DC comedy cartoon. “We kind of always had the Harlivy relationship in the back of our heads,” Schumacker tells Den of Geek. “But we knew that we wanted to spend the first season and a half focusing on Harley, her vocation, her career, and all of that. Once you had that sorted, then we would start to get into her complicated feelings about Ivy.”
Their commitment to the relationship is such that they tell us, “This drum that we keep banging on now is they are a couple, and as long as we’re in charge of the show they will never break up.” But that presents an interesting challenge for the creative team. “We don’t want their relationship to be hunky dory, and they’ll go through trials and tribulations this season. But how do we do that without it ever coming to a head, right?”
Luckily, fans can worry about those conflicts later, as the first episode focuses at least partly on the pair enjoying the honeymoon period that comes in the early days of the relationship. And that, Halpern tells us, was entirely the point. “The writing staff–and Sarah Peters, who wrote that episode–they were very much like, ‘Let’s give the fans this honeymoon period as well.’ When we start the episode off we give them a lot of Harley and Ivy together, happy and having fun, before we toss in something that’s going to cause conflict in the relationship.”
Digging into what this relationship really means for both of the women at its center was vital to the creators of the show, especially when it comes to Harley and her tangled romantic past. “Harley doesn’t really know a way to be in a relationship where she’s not completely devoted and doing everything for her partner. It’s a bad habit that she’s taken from this shitty relationship,” Halpern says. “She’s an appendage,” Schumacker adds. “Yeah, and she’s trying to transplant it,” according to Halpern.
That’s particularly highlighted in the episode’s closing moments where we see Harley promise Ivy that she wants to make her happy no matter what. Together they’re going to take over the world and reshape it in Ivy’s vision. But it’s not the happy ending it seems to be. “We wanted to give this sort of false feeling at the end of the first episode. It ends with Harley saying ‘I want you, I’m committed to you, I want to do everything you’re going to be doing,'” Halpern says. “It feels like a happy moment. But what we wanted it to be was this showing a false idea of what a relationship should be. So what we’re building through the season is a theme about these two characters who want different things and yet can exist within this relationship.”
Harley Quinn season three also introduces a new character to the fray: James Gunn, with none other than the director playing himself. It expands the meta world of the series and introduces a central storyline for this season which the creators teased. “It was a blast for us,” Schumacker says. “We knew that we wanted to have the season culminate–without spoiling it too much–there’s a movie, a Thomas Wayne biopic, that’s sort of a Scorsese Aviator kind of look at his life and ultimate demise that everyone’s familiar with.”
The man to bring that sincere vision to life was James Gunn, of course!
“We thought it would be fun to have somebody like James, who’s like, Guardians of the Galaxy! The Suicide Squad! He does popcorn insanity. That I would say is totally akin to the stuff that we’re trying to do. And wouldn’t it be fun if his character was like, ‘You know what, I’m going to win an award now. And I’m going to direct this movie, starring Billy Bob Thornton as Thomas Wayne’ and Billy Bob Thornton voices himself playing Thomas Wayne, which was a blast as well.”
The pair knew Gunn was a fan of the series–but didn’t know him personally–so Schumacker contacted the director on Twitter in what he called “a shot in the dark.” But his aim was obviously good as within 15 minutes Gunn had responded in the affirmative. “A couple of weeks later, I was remotely voice directing him from the Peacemaker set! We had him for like an hour and knocked out all of his stuff. He was a great sport.”
Harley Quinn episodes 1-3 are on HBO Max now!