2017 was a big year for anniversaries at Comic-Con International in San Diego, and one of the biggest was the 25th Birthday of the character Harley Quinn. A lot has happened to the character over that time, from starting as a creation on the Batman: The Animated Series cartoon, to jumping to the comics and becoming a top-tier character at DC Comics, and eventually achieving Hollywood stardom with the Suicide Squad movie’s portrayal by Margot Robbie. To commemorate the character’s 25th, Harley Quinn comics writer Jimmy Palmiotti hosted a panel featuring many of the characters’ contributors past and present, including esteemed co-creator Paul Dini.
When asked about his reaction to the monumental status Harley has grown to, Dini was apoplectic. “I’m mystified…I think ‘has this joke has gone on long enough?’ But you like her, you guys aren’t tired of her yet…[Batman: The Animated Series producer] Bruce [Timm] and mine, [that’s] our joke.”
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Palmiotti noted Harley’s expanding slate of Hollywood films. “I think they announced something this week, did anybody hear they announce a writer today? Did I hear that? Did I read that?” A fan yelled out she did too. “Then it’s on the internet, so it must be true,” Palmiotti replied to crowd laughter. “But we have a lot more Harley coming up, we have this cool thing, it’s a Batman/Harley Quinn movie, an animated movie. Bruce Timm’s behind this.” They showed a brief clip that featured Melissa Rauch’s Harley, and the audience ate it up.
After the clip, Palmiotti asked longtime Harley voice actor Tara Strong what it was like to do the movie, to which Strong, in her Harley voice, corrected him of the misassumption. “That’s not me!…I also wasn’t the first. But I will say,” then Strong changed to her normal voice. “The first was Arleen [Sorkin], who I adore so much. I mean, she was such an inspiration, and always so kind. And it was such huge shoes to fill. And she’s got a little message for you guys.”
Sorkin was not at the panel, and is apparently suffering an illness. Dini cut in as he pulled out his phone to read from it. “Yeah, she would have loved to have been here, she adores Harley, she adores all of you. She has been mostly retired, and last few years has been dealing with a few things, so she did send this message and would like me to read it. ‘Just the mere fact that all these lunatics are at Comic-Con, is proof that they have passion. And if you have passion, you are so lucky. I’ve met so many other sick people that don’t have a passion, and without it, you’re lost. So, ‘yay’ everybody here.’” The crowd cheered as Dini was visibly moved, wiping away tears.
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Palmiotti moved on to Harley’s latest video game appearance. “We’re gonna get to Tara, because we’re talking about Injustice 2.” Strong interjected in her Harley voice, “Now that’s me!” But Palmiotti was a little more cautious in confirming her work on the original. “As well as Injustice one, right? You were in both?” She confirmed he had it right that time.
After a clip from Injustice 2, Palmiotti asked Strong what it was like coming back to the video game role. “Well, like everyone on the panel, I love, love doing Harley so much. Typically when you’re in a show, you’re in a room with other actors for four hours, playing off each other, and when you’re do a video game sometimes, you get nervous about not losing your voice, because you could be screaming death sounds for four hours. But anytime with Harley, I’m like ‘I don’t care’, I will like scream and die a thousand times, I take out all my frustrations playing her, and any time I get asked to do Harley, I’m like [in Harley voice] ‘Yes!’ It’s like ‘never question it,’ this game’s so fun. It’s so nice to be cool with my own kids, because they don’t necessarily like everything I do. They’re like ‘Mom, I’m killing it as you! You’re my best character!’”
Injustice 2 is available now on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
Directed by Sam Liu (Batman: The Killing Joke), Batman and Harley Quinn stars Kevin Conroy and Loren Lester, reprising their Batman: The Animated Series roles as Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson, joined by Melissa Rauch (The Big Bang Theory) as Harley Quinn, Paget Brewster (Criminal Minds) as Poison Ivy and Kevin Michael Richardson (The Cleveland Show) as the Floronic Man.