“Batman and Harley Quinn” Does No Favors To The Female Lead – Movie Review

While I didn’t have high hopes for Batman and Harley Quinn, I wasn’t expecting it to be an animated film I wished I had never seen.

This post contains spoilers for Batman and Harley Quinn. Be warned!

Batman and Harley Quinn is full of issues. We have a flimsy plot and the actions of some characters make no sense. However, the biggest issue I had with this film was Harley Quinn. The film destroyed her character for the ‘male gaze’ and I do feel sorry for her.

I was hoping DC Comics animated universe would’ve learned to do better after The Killing Joke debacle. But Batman and Harley Quinn has shown that there are still people in power who have little to no disregard for female characters.

The Killing Joke added extra story related to Barbara Gordon and fans were looking forward to it. However, once the film was released, the extra story made Barbara come across as a female who was only interested in sleeping with Batman. It also worsened the events that led to her paralyzation.

Considering Bruce Timm produced The Killing Joke, I should’ve known he was going to do something awful in Batman and Harley Quinn, a film he wrote. I have no idea how the company greenlit his idea and thought it was okay to release such film with a PG-13 rating.

The overall story has to deal with Poison Ivy and the Floronic Man wanting to turn the world into plant-human hybrids. So, Batman (Kevin Conroy) decides to call in Harley (Melissa Rauch) for help because she’s friends with Ivy. He sends Nightwing to go find her and we see our titular hero at Superbabes, a bar that’s all about men being served by over-sexualized females. The first scene we get from Harley involves a man touching her butt. Sigh!

Anyway, Harley isn’t interested in helping Nightwing so they fight it out. Harley wins and ties him up to her bed. Then there’s a whole scene where she takes off her clothes and proceeds to sleep with him. Now, I get that Nightwing was shown to agree with sleeping with her, however, you can’t ignore the fact that he was tied to the bed and Harley literally moves on top of him.

For anyone wondering why the scene can come across as sexual assault, try reversing the roles. If you think Nightwing doing what Harley did to him can be creepy then Harley doing the same to Nightwing can be considered creepy too.

The whole scene was just a male-gaze fantasy where a sexy woman has her way with a man (the hero) and he’s all for it.

There’s also a lot of jokes made on Harley’s expense. Batman treats her as a sexually charged teenager who needs to keep under control. Apparently, she’s also all about having sex with men and calling them if she “runs out of batteries.”

Batman and Harley Quinn also has a whole musical number where Harley is shaking her breasts and hips along with doing ‘suggestive’ actions while singing into the microphone. The song itself (‘Hanging On The Telephone‘ by The Nerves) isn’t bad. But Harley’s performance doesn’t do her any favors.
I have nothing against female characters owning their sexuality. I’m all for women getting what they want. What I do have an issue with is ‘objectification’ and being sleazy. Females being sexual just for the sake of the male gaze turns them into objects rather than actual characters and that’s what this film did to Harley. She literally was nothing more than a female body that shook some of its parts to make jokes in a PG-13 film.
Another reason why I think Harley’s character was for the male gaze is because the film ignored her sexual relationship with Poison Ivy. There are queer jokes in the film and even some queer characters. However, because the film ignored Harley and Ivy’s relationship, the jokes felt inappropriate.
The two characters still make contact with each other. There’s an entire fight scene (because men love to see two chicks fight each other) and even a hug (possible-sexual-fantasy). But there’s no indication of the two female characters being lovers as that would’ve made them actually queer and taken away from the fantasy of them making out for fun.
Batman and Harley Quinn is currently available on Digital HD. It will be released on Blu-ray and DVD on August 29, 2017.
Have you watched Batman and Harley Quinn? Let us know.

Author: Farid-ul-Haq

Farid has a Masters in Psychology and an M.Phil in Molecular Genetics. He is the author of numerous books including Arousing the Legacy, Missing in Somerville, The Game Master of Somerville, and The Escaped Murderer of Somerville. He gives us insight on comics, books, TV shows, anime/manga, video games, and movies.



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