I try really hard not to fangirl too much on my art sites, other than posting fanart. But I saw Suicide Squad this weekend, and of course I have many many thoughts.

(Don’t worry, mostly positive ones. Like 95% positive.)

**And spoilers follow, very much so.**

I was actually very impressed by the whole film. It was 2 hours of pure spastic, violent fun.I think they did a pretty good job letting all the individual team members shine, even if they only got a few lines (well, with the exception of Slipknot. Awkward, guys, killing off the Native American character right away).

I was also impressed at how they made no apologies for Amanda Waller – she may be on the “good” side, but she is just as awful as every single person she’s locked up and manipulated. I loved the twist of the Enchantress not being a team member after all – being the Big Bad, instead, and Rick Flagg’s devotion to June – how their love still endured even though it was also initiated by Waller’s manipulation, and tested by Flagg’s need to follow orders (and by Enchantress herself, of course). Flagg’s broship with Deadshot was fun to watch, and further cemented the very fine job they did showcasing how no one – not even the good guys – are really good in this case.

Though I usually find the “manly-man keeps hitting on uninterested-woman obliviously” trope real tiring, I was actually quite amused by Boomerang’s insistence on asking Katana out every single time she threatened his life. And of course I loved the brightness, how the whole film embraced its violence and the ridiculousness of the situation in a wholeheartedly fun way.

Now about Harley.

Oh, Harley. She SHINES. Margot Robbie did an absolutely incredible job and we are blessed to have her leading the fight to get more Harley stories on the big screen. As usual, I was not as much of a fan of her relationship with the Joker, and kinda put off by how different they are together in this film (but more on that later).

But even with that, we seem to get a more autonomous Harley than usual. Although her transformation from Harleen Quinzel into Harley Quinn is just as messed up as usual, in this case, she fully chooses the whole thing. She seems to fall in love with him on her own – if there was mental/emotional manipulation on his part, they don’t show it, he only asks her for the machine gun (the means to his escape) after she’s fallen for him. Then, when the breakout happens and he sets about her torture, her creation, she willingly accepts it. Willfully, even.

I saw a lot of negative reviews complaining about how inappropriate it was that they played “You Don’t Own Me” the first time they show her on screen, but I actually think this version of Harley, more than any other, is in control of her destiny with the Joker and fully aware of what’s going on there (excepting, of course, her full autonomy in the comics right now, having finally truly broken up with him). She even seems to really know just how sick she is – the way she looks down into the vats that trigger the A.C.E Chemicals flashback, the way she sadly talks about love. Her love of violence married to her devotion to him, to the point where she may have either committed or taken the rap for something huge in Batfamily history. Even though this Mistah J is more devoted to her than any other version so far, she still knows in her heart that she is not well. That she can’t get what she really wants from him, the life she sees in her final-battle dream sequence. And still, she fully chooses this.

I find that really refreshing, in a way, since most of the time we see her in the victim role. I don’t think she would have gotten to shine this much if she had been exactly like she was in the original version of her origin. Then again, that version of the Joker would NEVER have come after her. I find this version of him really confusing, actually, in the face of his history. When they’re at the top of their power, even though he seems to be running things, they’re clearly on board together about how to deal with people who treat her like His Object – anybody who acts like she’s a sexual prize of his gets toyed with, then killed (and can we also appreciate, for a moment, her dance scene in the background? BIG YAY for her bisexuality being intact!). He does abandon her once, when their car crashes into Gotham Harbor. But after that, he clearly sets about searching for her, and once he finds her, spends a lot of resources ensuring her rescue.

I must say, even in my confusion, the scene where he finally comes for her and she goes to him with unwavering trust and confidence in the middle of a barrage of unfriendly fire was absolutely, breathtakingly beautiful.

But even with that, this is not the Joker we have seen before. Like I said, those Jokers would not have come rescue Harley, let alone actually spend considerable energy trying to find her after he abandoned her (does this Joker feel guilt, then?). They would not have had a little love nest all set up to worship her once they were safely out of dodge. They wouldn’t have let her be the fully confident, independent equal we see on screen.

I feel very much like this is the Harley x Joker we would be gotten if Early Harley Quinn had been writing the story.

Again, I’m unexpectedly grateful for this. Although seeing Harley happy with the Joker gives me the heebies, cause I think she deserves to be healthier than she is here (complete love of murder for murder’s sake, anyone?), the tradeoff is that we get an incredibly strong and confident version of her even though we’re still in her origin story. And I have to admit, I’ll take that. I believe the world NEEDS more Harley stories – she displays a strength and beauty and compassion like no other, darker than the purity of Wonder Woman’s, for example, but just as necessary and valid.

Women like Diana have been through a lot as well, but women like Harley come at the same fight from an even more damaged place. A more ‘underdog’ place. And since its finally time for us to see them both on the big screen (YAYS), I believe wholeheartedly that we need to see them both. Women need to know that they are strong and sacred at their core (like Diana), but also that they can overcome anything that has been done to them or that they have done (like Harley), and that in both cases, they have the power to CHOOSE.

One of my favorite moments in the whole movie is when, after Diablo finally reveals what most-terrible-thing he’s done, Harley fully accepts it – even when the other characters can’t comprehend it, and simply says “Own that shit.” That shows so much where her power lies – she fully sees and accepts what’s really going on (which is funny, since she’s supposed to be more than a bit out of touch with reality, in her “madness,” according to everyone else). I fully believe that she plays that expectation, too, takes advantage of how crazy people expect her to be in order to get them to underestimate her, to observe and manipulate the situation herself.

And how she acts in the final battle, after she thinks she’s lost the Joker, continues to show the beauty and strength of her heart. Once she’s free of her attachment to him (which only ends with his death, in this case) she still has enough strength and self worth to carry on. She may be pushing down her loss, burying it under her cheerful act, but she survives and even keeps going – returning to the mission, fully letting herself connect to the rest of her team for the first time. Then, when all appears lost, she puts herself in danger and displays her fierce loyalty by getting close to the Enchantress, tricking her, so that they can unexpectedly take her down. And in the end, when June has managed to survive and she and Rick and reunited, Harley still believes in love enough to be clearly happy for them, even though she’s lost her own love so recently.

So. Did I love every single part of this incarnation of her? No (her use of pussy as an insult was pretty jarring). Do I approve of her relationship with the Joker now? Absolutely not. But focusing on the positive, this version of her shows her at the most confident and empowered she can be, in her origin moments, and I do love that we get to see her like this.

As for the future…. we know that Robbie is fully on board with bring more Harley to the big screen, and actually in works with a female writer on a Harley-led female-ensemble movie. I think this is fantastic news. Since “Suicide Squad” ends with the Joker breaking her out of Belle Reve, I assume something else will happen to force her out of his world and on her own again, leading to her teaming up with several other ladies. If the future films decide to stay truer to what their relationship is like, this may very well be their love turning toxic and abusive, like always. I’m happy for my Harley/Joker-loving friends, I am, but I sincerely hope they head in that direction now that her origin is covered. That they reveal the manipulation that we didn’t get to see on screen. And hopefully, this strong, empowered Harley will be able to pick up and move on without her Mistah J – maybe like she does in “DC Bombshells,” which is another story that shows them truly in love first, and then turning toxic (see issue 42 of that, btw).

Now about Ivy.

I really really really really really REALLY really hope that in this case, we’ll get to see Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy meet, perhaps as the catalyst for Harley forming this team of ladies.

We’ve seen them both work with other women before – both of them with Catwoman as the “Gotham Sirens,” Ivy with the “Birds of Prey,” Harley with her Gang of Harleys and also with Batgirl – so seeing them BOTH in this plot-plan makes a lot of sense. I know we haven’t seen Ivy on the big screen in a long long time, and when we did, some people didn’t think it went so well. But since the movies are all about reboots these days, I don’t see that as a hindrance (even if we probably won’t get Uma Thurman again, sadface).

Moreso, even though they’ve worked with/made friends with other women, their friendship has been the strongest and most important to each other (so important that it grew into a very complicated, devoted and honest romance, as has finally been confirmed by DC). Yes, I speak as a very loyal, enthusiastic Harley/Ivy fan. But just from a story standpoint, to have this next movie without Ivy in it would not make sense. Regardless of whether or not you ship them, Ivy has been just as constant in Harley’s life as the Joker, and to not include her would be dishonest to her character and her story.

So firstly, she just needs to be there, to be true to Harley’s story after her origins. And secondly, I hope we get to see the truth of their relationship – that Harley falls in love with her, too, and Ivy loves her back in a pure and unjealous way.

All things considered, though, I am super happy with how things are turning out. “Suicide Squad” was such fun, and Harley was as perfect as possible. I know the movie’s gotten a LOT of bad reviews, but I can say for myself that it was well worth the trip to the theater. And I hope that this helped, if you’re worried about how it is (or how it went, if you’ve already seen it and have mixed feelings).