Crazy in Love: The Joker and Harley Quinn’s twisted relationship throughout “The New Batman Adventures” animated series and “Mad Love” grapahic novel
Do you ever look at two people and think, “wow I sure wish I had a relationship like that?”
Well it’s not uncommon for fans to have this same view about Harley Quinn and the Joker’s relationship but many would shake their heads in disagreement with such a statement. Is it wise to aspire to a relationship as fundamentally flawed as the Joker’s and Harely Quinn’s? We find out in the second installment of our Crazy in Love series.
In this series, we here at The Nerd Recites will be examining all of the variations of Harley Quinn and the Joker’s relationship. We analyze every aspect of their relationship to determine just how great or bad it is. We started the series off with Batman: The Animated Series, and now we will be delving into the prequel series, The New Batman Adventures.
The episode, “Jokers Millions” is a clear example of how poor their relationship is from the beginning, you can see for yourself here:
It’s amazing how easily the Joker can just abandon Harley when they get into a tight spot, but it’s nice to see that Harley doesn’t just let it happen without making an outrage. In the next clip you can see her outrage when finding out that the Joker is hiring a new henchgirl. Turns out Karma is working against the Joker as the new henchgirl he picks has a very annoying voice and laugh.
In the end, the police officer who is supervising the Joker is revealed to be Harley, who escaped Arkham to get her revenge on him. She does end up getting her revenge in the end by beating him up with her nightstick.
This episode, like the others before it, show how easily the two can go back and forth between being affectionate with one another to being openly hostile towards each other. It also shows us how little value the Joker assigns to Harley and how he would rather recruit a “new Harley” than getting his Harley back.
The next episode, “Mad Love”, is a very important one and gives us a lot to look at.
In the beginning the Joker unsurprisingly yells at Harley, but things get a little more forceful when the Joker is looking through his plans to defeat Batman. Harley walks out dressed in lingerie, and tries her best to get his attention by crawling onto his desk. He simply says, “Go away, I’m busy.” She keeps trying, but he just ends up pushing her of his desk.
He rambles on about Batman, and without a care, spews acid towards her with his flower. When he walks away to find a plan that works to defeat the superhero, he quickly pouts as he can’t make piranhas smile, one of the key elements of his plan.
Harley tries to sooth him, putting one hand in his coat and the other one on his head and says suggestively, “I know how to make some smiles, Puddin.” Without missing a beat, she is thrown out of the building.
The next video is where things start to get interesting and we get more of an insight into background of the couple.
It’s amazing to see a different side of Harley, or more appropriately, Harleen Quinzel. We see her as mature, interning psychiatrist. She doesn’t even have her famous New York accent, which shows it is a trait unique to her Harley Quinn persona.
There wasn’t a lot of interaction between Joker and Harley before he invited her down to his cell, but it didn’t take long for his manipulation to quickly ensue. He coerced her into listening to his past struggles, knowing she would want to know about him as a patient. He seemed to know exactly what to say to get her to cry to the point of tears, but then gasp in surprise.
Of course the Joker tells her there is nothing wrong with her feelings when she confessed to him. She believed he just needed someone to love and laugh with him. However, she was wrapped around his finger, just as he had planned. Ultimately, he gave her the same views that he has; to love him and hate batman.
This is shown by the look she gives Batman when Joker comes back to Arkham Asylum beaten up and bruised, her pity for the Joker and hatred for Batman are ultimately the pushing factors that causes Harleen Quinzell to become Harley Quinn.
Even when ending the flashback, she blames her happy ending with Joker not happening because of Batman. It’s not too surprising that Batman had laughed at her ideals. She is so wrapped up in her own obsession that, even when it is obvious that she was having conflicting feelings, she decided not to believe the truth that the Joker had lied and does not love her.
Even when she made this resolve and was so excited to show the Joker what she had achieved, she was rewarded with probably the bluntest physical abuse we have seen transpire between the two. This was not a simple push, a comical beat up, or his routine of throwing her out, but him backhanding her so hard that she flew across the room.
He’s so mad that he even consciously puts her in serious harm by pushing her out of the high window. She was left there at the bottom, her fall barely cushioned by junk. Even with blood running down her chin, and struggling to move her limbs she says mournfully, “my fault… I didn’t get the joker.”
She blames it on herself, even though she had done nothing wrong to earn such a punishment. At times she seems conscious of the wrong the Joker does to her, but at the end of the day even she believes what abuse she receives is because of her actions and failures.
When we see her at the end of the “Mad Love” episode she believes the Joker is dead, and with that belief comes a peaceful claim that her obsession is finally gone. She even calls him slime, and that she saw him for what he is. However, this mentality changes within seconds of seeing a flower and a letter from the Joker telling her to feel better soon. It took the smallest bit of effort from Joker for Harley to completely forgive him and call him an angel.
In this episode’s comic counterpart, which was actually written before this episode, we get to delve deeper into Harley’s past.
You find out that she got into Gotham State University through a gymnastic scholarship, which explains her flexibility while fighting. Her real goal was a degree from the school’s prestigious Psychology department, but with bad grades, ended up sleeping with her professors to get through with high grades.
This information alone shows us that there was some always immaturity underneath the facade Harley presented all along. Even so, this whole episode is extremely full of manipulation and abuse. When people say that they’re looking for their Joker or theirHarley, I’m sure they’re not thinking of their significant other pushing them out of a window. The fact she accepted such actions just from seeing a flower is remarkable, and shows that Harley is not far behind the Joker in terms of madness.
In the episode, “Beware the Creeper” The Joker’s “birthday” is no exception to his ruthlessness to Harley.
Even when she goes out of her way to jump out of a pie and sing him a song, she is thrown outside, as Joker yells at her to, in the Joker’s words, “find that plagiarist who’s been stealing my act!”
After kicking her out, the Joker does try her pie but with a disgusted face said, “sweet kid, but a lousy cook.” Granted, this isn’t the first time Joker has called Harley, “kid,” or “kiddo” and it once again shows how he doesn’t take her seriously.
As soon as the guy who’s been “stealing the Joker’s act [The Creeper],” sees Harley for the first time he falls for her, and begins to flirt. She runs away and fights him, but nothing seems to work, and she ends up leading him back to the Joker’s hide out.
She hides behind the Joker, telling her to save him. The Creeper grabs Harley, telling Joker he’s going to steal his girl. While Joker doesn’t seem too upset over this, he does snatch Harley back, but then mindlessly throws her behind him and gets back to being upset about having someone too closely resemble him.
Again we are shown just how little the Joker cares for Harley. He cared more about being impersonated that he did at the thought os losing his Harely Quinn.
Our next article will not be the end of this series, but it will be ending this arc with Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker. This movie holds the end to what really happens to the Joker and Harley, whether that means a good, happy, or even an unanswered ending. Either way, it will help us have a full rounded few of their relationship in the animated series, so stay tuned to see how these two, crazy in love villains turn out!
Previous Installment: Crazy in Love: A retrospective into The Joker and Harley Quinn’s abusive relationship in Batman – The Animated Series
Image Credits: DC Comics