Harley Quinn has gone through a bit of an identity crisis throughout her years in DC. Since her animated debut, Harley has gone from the sidekick and girlfriend of Joker to her own full-on character, ranging from animated series to comics, video games, and a guest spot in the TV series Arrow–and now she’s on the big screen in Suicide Squad. With her transition from supporting cast member into a full character, I’ve come to the realization that Harley Quinn’s outfits have changed more and more in the past couple of years than anyone else. Even Poison Ivy keeps the same type of outfit, but Harley Quinn is different. The comic book and video game artists seem to give her either one less piece of clothing or one more weapon every time she debuts. What gives? I’ll rate the Harley outfits that have been the most popular so far from the comics to the video games.
12: Injustice: Gods Among Us (2013)
It’s almost hard to imagine that someone thought this was a good idea for a fighting game. Injustice: Gods Among Us is like Mortal Kombat, but with superheroes vs. villains. Sounds cool, right? The one aspect that bothered me was that Harley’s outfit leaves nothing to the imagination. The good thing about her outfit is that it suits well to her gymnastic training, allowing her to move freely and cartwheel whenever she gets the chance. The bad thing about this outfit, however, had me asking a question as I played and watched her. If this was real life… wouldn’t she be shot in the chest immediately? The answer is yes. I know this is just a game, but hear me out. In Injustice: Gods Among Us, Harley Quinn is a Gadget User, and those gadgets almost come out of nowhere in the game. For safety, there is no padding, no bulletproof vest, and no cushion to soften the fall. There is nothing holding Harley’s outfit together but those four straps in the middle. They put in DLC to give her another outfit after a while, but it doesn’t soften the blow of being given this outfit the first go around.
11: Suicide Squad
Girl, are you not cold?! It’s snowing! Suicide Squad Harley Quinn almost baffles me as much as Injustice Harley. The littler the clothes, the deadlier she becomes, I suppose? The New 52s introduced us to a new Harley Quinn that’s forcibly a part of the Suicide Squad, but also a stand alone character with her own series. Harley adopts pale skin and her hair is half black and half red–like her original jester cap. In Suicide Squad, she’s equipped with her signature hammer, which has the slimmer and sleeker design of a mallet instead of her larger hammer design. DC kept her core elements inside of the outfit, such as her bubbly, love starved, psychotic personality. But that’s only the psychological elements of Harley. DC has made Harley Quinn an even more sexualized character in the DC Universe, keeping pace with her increased popularity over the years. They kept her deadly as ever, but this outfit again doesn’t leave you much to the imagination.
10: Arkham Asylum
Even “unrealistic body image” doesn’t cut it with this one. Harley goes back to her doctor days in Arkham Asylum, yet the game depicts her as a nurse type warden, taking over Arkham with the Joker like the BAMF she is. Harley uses her deadly skills to serve the Joker’s needs and wants. This has got to be one of the best games in the Arkham series, in my opinion, but this outfit has got to go. The “skin-tight yet busty” image of Harley Quinn starts to become a routine after a while. We start to see Harley Quinn in tighter corsets and boobs lifted up to her chin. Previous game Arkham City sets out to destroy this image, but Arkham Knight builds this image right back up. This outfit also doesn’t help with her battles because it might be impossible to realistically use your gymnastic skills with those heavy boots. Look at that tiny waist though… Talk about corset training…
9: Margot Robbie in Suicide Squad
This outfit is a cross between the comic design of Suicide Squad (above) and the game design from Injustice Regime (below), which could be an awesome costume if DC really got it together! Margot Robbie seems like she’d be the perfect Harley Quinn. She has those drop dead gorgeous looks that you’ll swoon for. I want to like this outfit so much, but I just can’t. It fails at so many areas where it can be awesome. Harley Quinn is beautiful, we know this, but does she really need to look like an actual doll?
The pigtails are a great touch to already New 52s idea of Harley and she sports easily recognizable signature colors. The pale skin is matched to Margot Robbie’s already sharp features; she resembles a porcelain doll. The problem with this outfit is the oversexualization that’s happening within it. Daddy’s Little Monster? Really? It’s bad enough that her shorts are so short that they probably don’t give her space to breathe properly, but when you bring a Daddy t-shirt into the equation it almost shifts the dynamic of the character. She hardly looks like herself anymore. She’s probably going to be the most oversexualized person in the film, which is slightly upsetting. As much as I want to like it, I just can’t give it the approval it’s seeking. Harley Quinn has become this bubbly, oversexualized creation for the male gaze and it’s really sad to see because she’s so amazing.
8: Arkham Knight
Harley Quinn in a tutu! This is one of the better outfits that Harley has worn throughout the games. This is the outfit that she’s given after Arkham Asylum (1) and Arkham City (2) and she’s wearing a tutu. For all purposes, she does look adorable in the outfit, bringing a lighthearted nature to the game. It slightly makes you remember that she was a gymnast with the ballerina-esque illusion of the outfit, but that’s not enough. She’s equipped with a baseball bat in this round while wearing her corset–that kind of starts becoming a recurring “thing” around now. The one thing I’m very happy about with this outfit is her tights and boots look. They come in her signature diamonds with her colors intact. They also add a bedazzled nature to the style that’s DIY for the character, which brings a much-needed smile to my face.
7: Arkham City
Harley’s look in Arkham City was the best functional, smart and dope addition to the many outfits in her video game collection. This is very close to what Harley should be wearing within the video games, if not what she should be wearing. It’s highly functional with her gymnastic skills and she’s equipped with whatever is at her disposal. The outfit has been one that’s a favorite among cosplayers (although people seem to enjoy the Arkham Knight outfit these days). The outfit has another corset that has been popularized throughout the games and it leaves much to the imagination while being functional and badass at the same time. The hair definitely gets better after Arkham City and I hope we can all agree on that. It looks straw-like and damaged from the dye job at the ends. I am not an expert in hair, but I assume that is very very bad.
6: Injustice Regime
This outfit is kind of cool. Although the thong strap along her hip is a very distracting. You can see that this outfit is a lot more functional for her skills and the function of her gadgets little bit more as well. This outfit comes in the alternative for Injustice: Gods Among Us and I really liked it. There are some amazing touches to this outfit such as: her pigtails in black and red, her great pants which are also her colors and my favorite touch of all is her leather jacket. They bring in her gadget usage, which allows her outfit to actually have them attached to her, rather than them come from out of nowhere. The best touch to this outfit, however, is the t-shirt with a drawing of her puddin’ on it. It gives another bit of that DIY touch realizing that Harley probably did it herself to give a tribute to the Joker, the love of her life.
5: Arkham Origins
I didn’t know that this existed until I wrote this article and almost freaked out. I love seeing Harley Quinn in her early doctor days as Dr. Harleen Quinzel, before and right when she meets the Joker. This outfit is everything. In Arkham Origins, she has pinned up blonde hair, signature red shirt and black skirt and a white lab coat. It updates the original Dr. Quinzel outfit from the original animated television series with a sharper design. Her glasses are what got me excited, because I hardly ever see Harley Quinn in her doctor glasses anymore! She’s not only her doctor self, but fans get to see a little bit of the old Harley, before she falls in love with the Joker and steps into the jester outfit we know today.
Joker is a comic book that not a lot people know about, but very much should be read by those wanting to get behind a little bit about the myth of the Joker. Scripted by Brian Azzarello with art by Lee Bermejo, it’s told through the eyes of one of Joker’s henchman, but it’s a powerful behind-the-scenes look of the Joker as well. Harley Quinn is in it, in a silent role, but her presence is always there, and the art keeps you focused on her as soon as she appears in the panel. She’s the backbone of the Joker. You almost see the need Joker has for Harley, knowing she’ll always be there for him. She’s a dancer at first, but when she snatches on that mask you know shit’s about to go down. Harley’s outfit in this graphic novel goes back to the original outfit, but also has little moments like when Harley is sitting by the bar and her hair is in knots. It’s pretty fantastic. Check it out if you get the chance!
3: Mia Sara in Birds of Prey
I don’t know why this outfit works for me but it does. Birds of Prey was on the WB in 2002 and only lasted for one season, but dear god I loved that season. It was campy, but it was also pretty ahead of its time for featuring Huntress, Oracle, and Black Canary as the top billing female characters. Mia Sara’s portrayal of Harley Quinn was awesome, and her outfit reflected it. Harley’s outfit in this show in particular plays around with the business side of who Harley Quinn can be. The costume designers for Birds of Prey also play around with Harley’s main colors: black, white and red, with her suits and casual clothing. She wants to control New Gotham and it shows the sinister side of her instead of the bubbly side. If you look at the costume closely, the top of the shirt looks like her signature diamonds, but they also look like teeth. Ruthless!
2: Gotham City Sirens
I can go on and on about how much I love this design of Harley’s outfit in Gotham City Sirens, but I’ll keep it short and sweet. Guillem March does an amazing job sharpening Harley’s classic outfit and bringing it to the forefront. In this comic that centers around Catwoman, Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn, herself, it’s almost impossible not to love everything about it. It sticks to the original outfit, but it is also slightly sexier than the original. It gives you the outfit full on, but as tight and right that it can possibly be without showing TOO much in return. March keeps Harley in the outfit that made her legendary in the first place. Gotham City Sirens doesn’t show her in a corset trying to gasp for air, and it’s not giving you Daddy’s Little Monster in Suicide Squad. It sticks to the original design and it’s a perfect redesign.
1: Batman: The Animated Series
How can you not love her original outfit? It’s not only perfectly expressive of her bubbly, jester self, but it’s the outfit that we recognize the most for Harley Quinn. Introduced in the animated series Batman, this is the first glimpse we see of Harley Quinn and, like many of us, I’ve been hooked on this outfit ever since. It’s simple, clean and leaves a lot to the imagination without showing anything in the process. It’s functional for her gymnastics training and it’s so funny to see her spin in with the jester hat attached. During Comic Con sessions, I’ve seen girls in this cosplay and they are absolutely GENIUS about it. Cosplayers update this version of her outfit by using everything from leather to velvet in order to get their perfect Harley Quinn cosplay down. The original outfit cannot be beat, and hands down has to be the greatest Harley Quinn outfit ever.