Monday, 4 May 2015

Hollywood Babble On & On #1231: On Comics, Costumes, & Coitus...


They released the first picture of most of the cast from DC/Warner Bros. upcoming Suicide Squad movie. If you're not familiar with the property, it's about a team of super villains who are recruited by a shadowy government agency run by bureaucrat Amanda Waller to go on, you guessed it, suicide missions, led by professional commando Colonel Rick Flagg.

Before we go any further, here's the picture of some of the cast in full costume:

Now the standout in the picture is Margot Robbie who is playing The Joker's sidekick/life partner Harley Quinn. Where everyone else is trying to look tough and scary, her broad smile, pigtails, and the pent up energy in her body language, looks like she's committing 110% to this inherently over the top and madcap character.

My only problem is with her costume.

It doesn't scream super villain.

It screams "club kid who took too much Molly and now they can't stop grooving to bad EDM and texting 'OMG' repeatedly to her friends until her iPhone screen cracks."

I think we need to go back to the character's origins.

The character of Harley Quinn was created in the early 90s for Batman: The Animated Series. The reason for her creation was obvious, they needed someone for the Joker to talk to because thought balloons don't really work on animated shows.

However, her distinctive look, and high nasal voice made her an instant fan favourite. Over time they developed her character, backstory, and relationship with The Joker. It was revealed that she was originally his psychiatrist at Arkham Asylum, but she lost her heart and her mind, and became his partner in crime and life. They're onscreen relationship was the height of dysfunctional and even downright abusive, sparking Harley to split with Joker and form an occasional partnership with Poison Ivy.

Her popularity on the show led to Harley Quinn being adapted into the comics, including the Suicide Squad.

However, comic book publishers decided that it wasn't enough for a character to be interesting. They had to SEXY.

But not just sexy as in physically attractive, they had to look like strippers.

A classic example is the Suicide Squad's top boss Amanda Waller who went from looking like this...

 To this...
And it was decided that Harley Quinn needed to be improved as well, and she went from this…

To this…
Went from looking like a comical villain, to what you might find on a porn website if you put in a search for "Goth skanks."

Is it really an improvement, or is it just another failed attempt at sexy resulting in something that just looks sleazy, and makes the comics and its readers look sleazy.

I'm a bit relieved they didn't go full skank for the movie, but I would have liked if her outfit was just a bit more ridiculous. Remember, a comically ridiculous appearance masking a homicidal maniac is the essence of the character. Also it would make a nice counterpoint to the deliberate drabness of the outfits of her squad-mates.

But powers that be at DC/Warner Bros. apparently want that stoned club kid look.


It's been noticed that Marvel's Black Widow, the sexy-secret agent played by Scarlett Johanson, is missing from most of the Avengers: Age of Ultron merchandise, especially when it comes to toys like action figures.

Now the first reaction to this was to assume that Disney, Marvel's parent company, is a sexist monstrosity that won't acknowledge female fans of female characters, ignoring that their empire was built by little girls seeing Disney Princess movies and buying Disney Princess merchandise.

However, that's probably not the reason.

The reason is the fear of the outraged mother.

I'll bet dollars to dungheaps that somewhere in the bowels of Disney's headquarters they were looking at designs for Age of Ultron toys, and realized that if they released a Black Widow action figure that remotely resembled how the character looks on screen or in the comics, it would most likely spark some internet outrage from angry mothers worried that little Timmy might look at that action figure and figure out some unclean actions.

They then calculated that the outraged mother boycott would cost them more than an outraged feminist boycott, and dropped Black Widow from most of the merchandise line-up.

That's my theory.

Which is probably right.


  1. Disney had the young girls demographic sown up. The Princess francise and the fairy francise plus the high school musical francise, Kim Possible, Frozen, Brave. The problem was they didn't have the boys and their efforts to come up with properties to get them failed parthetically (Tron2?) So they did what they did with Pixar and bought an already intact property for another 6 billion or so and it's paid off handsomely. But it isn't mothers, per se, that's keep Black Widow off the shelf - it's the kids who are between 5 and 12 (IOWs per-pubesent) that buy superhero dolls to play with so they can act out their power fantasies. There simply is no place for a spandex clad woman whose "superpower" is to carry a couple of small handguns. She's sort of the nurse in the GI Joe collection and not likely to be a big seller. If Black Widow had been as awesome as "The Baroness" from GI Joe I'm sure they would have gone to market with the character.

  2. Rainforest Giant15/5/15 11:56 am

    They could always market it towards the dads. Just make her life size and add a plain paper wrapper to the outside like they used to do with the 'mens' magazines.

  3. I've just installed iStripper, and now I enjoy having the sexiest virtual strippers on my desktop.