When people ask me who my favourite comic book character is, I say Deadpool. But who was my first love? Batman. Honestly, I think I might ever prefer Batman over Deadpool – I KNOW. For years, I’ve always raced to the cinema to see the latest Batman flick and I’ve spent days tracking down the animated films online. In fact, I’m pretty proud to say that I’ve seen all Batman animated films. Even when I was wrapped up in the South Dublin world and rocking slouchy Abercrombie hoodies with knee high Uggs, DC Animated Universe was my guilty pleasure. While I can still be seen in the odd pair of Uggs, I’m more confident in my love for comic book films. So when a friend of mine invited me to see Batman & Harley Quinn after winning tickets from Big Bang Comics out in Dublin’s Dundrum Town Centre, you bet I said yes instantly.
When I first heard that Batman & Harley Quinn was being mad, I assumed that Kevin Conroy and Tara Strong would team up again. However, Tara wasn’t coming back. Instead it was The Big Bang‘s Melissa Rauch.
Before I dive into my thoughts, let me fill you in on what Batman & Harley Quinn is about. A global catastrophe is being set up by Harley’s best buddy Poison Ivy, who wants to turn the whole world into plants – plant people, plant cats, plant rats, plant EVERYTHING. Batman and Nightwing need to find a way to track down Ivy and her new partner in crime Jason Woodrue, aka The Floronic Man. And the best way to track down a gal? Find her best pal, Harls.
I was so excited to see this film, but as I was walking into the cinema I was worried. I walked into The Killing Joke, which was released in 2016, thinking it was going to be fantastic. While they did stick to the story, they added in a ridiculous sexual story between Batman and Batgirl. I was really hoping they wouldn’t do something so silly in Batman & Harley Quinn.
Well, they kind of did. BUT it didn’t take over the whole film, like it did in The Killing Joke. Batman & Harley Quinn was a new storyline to fans, but The Killing Joke was a loved classic that, in my opinion, shouldn’t have been toyed around with so much. I’m all for adding your own creative flair to classic stories – but don’t add a silly sex story for the sake of being edgy! In Batman & Harley Quinn, there was no sex story. There was sex, but no story. It didn’t take over the plot but did add a comedic flair to elements of the film.
Throughout the film, there are some amazing moments. What really added to it was that the cinema was full of fans who laughed and cried at the same moments. DC know their audience and they know that the audience who went to see this film had grown up with Batman The Animated Series. There were so many sexual innuendos but also a few throwbacks to the not just TAS but to Batman from the 1960s. Honestly, I think they added in one whole scene just for the late, great Adam West.
I also have to mention Melissa voicing Harley. Not going to lie, it took me a while to get used to hearing her as one of my favourite DC women. That said, after her first few lines, I liked her. In one of her first scenes, Harley fights Nightwing is an epic and hilarious brawl. Hearing her voice go from gentle, calm Harley to screeching, angry Harley is impressive. As it is for anyone who takes on an iconic character, it’s not exactly easy. However, I miss Tara’s voice as Harley and am baffled as to why she was replaced. What went on during the production meeting? Was there a clash? Did DC just want to try something new? WHAT HAPPENED?
A tweet posted by Tara back in April is quite telling. She wrote, “Any actor says they’re happy being replaced is full of [sh*]. You put your [heart] into everything, but NEVER upset [at] new performers & truly wish ’em well.[sic]” Fans immediately suspected that she was talking about Melissa replacing her – and to be honest, I would be upset too. It’s clear she’s not upset at Melissa but at the situation. Tara has worked with Kevin on various Batman projects since 1997. Having originally voiced Batgirl, it wasn’t until 2011 when she first voiced Harley in the video game Batman: Arkham City.
But can Tara be annoyed by that she was “replaced”? That depends – if she was approached before the production and casting team asked Melissa, then no. If she wasn’t told jack, then yeah – I would be RAGING. When Tara took over from Arleen Sorkin, the original voice and the inspiration for Harley Quinn, Arleen praised her fellow DCAU actor. In an interview with Batman Online, Arleen said she was happy to be replaced by Tara. “Whenever I would work with her, I’d marvel at how talented she is,” she said.
Since it aired in cinemas for the film’s special one night showing, Tara has not commented on what she makes of Batman & Harley Quinn or if she’s even seen it. However, my man Kevin took to Twitter to say he was “really pleased that everyone seemed to get the comedy” they went for. And for sure, everyone in the cinema with us that night definitely got the comedy.
So, was it worth the fuss? Honestly, yeah. Fair enough, I’m a little biased as I’m obsessed with Kevin Conroy, but I really did have such a good time watching the film. There were some cringey moments but wasn’t The Animated Series a little bit cringe too? I’m definitely going to be adding Batman & Harley Quinn to my movie collection.
If you didn’t get a chance to see the one night only showing of Batman & Harley Quinn, you can buy the film online now for €11.99 from iTunes or wait until August 25th to snag the DVD or Blu-Ray – some which come with a Harley Quinn figure!