There’s no denying who DC’s current golden girl is… it’s Harley Quinn. The character has seen an immense rise to the spotlight over the past 15 years, with the Joker’s partner in crime going from a simple Batman villain to one of the most popular faces in all of entertainment.
When Suicide Squad made its debut (the bad one) back in 2016, it didn’t take long before Margot Robbie’s iteration of the character became the go-to Halloween costume of choice for many. Whoever makes those Daddy’s Lil Monster shirts and Puddin’ necklaces must have made an absolute fortune. Add to this a growing presence across Rocksteady’s Arkham titles between 2009 and 2015, and now a leading role in the upcoming Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League, as well as becoming a major presence in Todd Phillips’ Joker: Folie à Deux with Lady Gaga putting her spin on the character, all while leading an animated series that is continuing to thrive on HBO Max, Harley has been incredibly hard at work for the past 15 years.
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You might be wondering what I’m getting at, and simply put it’s this: Harley Quinn needs to take a vacation. I love Harley as much as the next person, but it’s time she took a break, retreated from the spotlight, and let someone else thrive for a while. DC has a plentiful and massive list of other characters that can fill the void while Harley takes a well-earned breather, and I think fans around the world will understand that when they start to learn more about some of the other available options.
Assuming we stick to the villainous trend that many seemed to enjoy about Harley, here are a few other great options that could thrive if given the chance.
You don’t even need to look far to find a great alternative. In many adaptations, Harley and Poison Ivy are entangled in a relationship, and that’s just one of the many ways the two are connected. They both despise the Batman, they both prefer a lawless approach to life, they are in many ways similar. So, while Harley goes away for a while, why not leave the trouble-making to Ivy and her botanical army? There’s loads of potential for this character, and quite frankly, besides serving as a counterpart to Harley in HBO’s animated series, being a recurring face in the Arkham games, and seeing Uma Thurman portray her in the absolute disaster that was 1997’s Batman & Robin, we haven’t really seen the character much in the wider entertainment space.
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Talia al Ghul
DC purebloods will be very familiar with this character, but many casual fans might be far less familiar with who she is. Sure, Talia appeared in The Dark Knight Rises with Marion Cotillard portraying the character, as a minor role in the Arrowverse, and also in the Arkham games as a thorne in Bruce’s side, but she has never really starred at the forefront for DC. It’s all very strange that this has never happened because Talia has tons of potential. She has connections and complex relationships with many major heroes and villains. She’s a lover of Batman, the daughter of the leader of the League of Shadows, the immortal Ra’s al Ghul, and has ties to Bane and Lex Luthor. So, while she is expertly trained and very dangerous, she’s also got many unique storylines and narrative branches that can be explored.
Most comic book fans should recognise the Wilson name, and will absolutely be familiar with Deathstroke. This iconic villain has been a problem for many heroes across the DC world for years, but what many probably don’t know is that Slade Wilson himself also has a daughter, Rose. She has basically never had a serious role in the wider entertainment sector of DC beyond comics, so there are countless interesting ways to grow this character without stepping on anyone’s toes. Sure, Rose was a leading antagonist in the children’s show, Teen Titans Go! but otherwise, she has been often overlooked, which is a shame because she’s brutal, unhinged, and an ideal adversary for many of DC’s most popular heroines.
Picking up on the Teen Titans theme, we’d be remiss not to mention Raven. Sure, this character is often looked at as a hero, and yes, she was a leading figure in the Titans series, but just because she’s had a few more serious roles and often works for the good guys doesn’t mean she doesn’t have a dark side too. Raven is the daughter of the demon Trigon, and as you might expect, means she has a little bad blood coursing through her veins. She gets up to kooky and weird things, and there are storylines of Raven going full-on evil, showing she has the potential to cause a lot of problems for the good guys. People know and recognise Raven, so she may just be one of the best Harley replacements around, as it’ll take less work and effort to build a narrative base for casual fans to associate with.
We’ve left this character until last because it’s probably the one most would expect us to bring up. Catwoman is well-known thanks to various appearances over the years in a multitude of mediums. Be it the pretty awful Halle Berry solo film, Michelle Pfeiffer’s famous portrayal in Batman Returns, Zoë Kravitz adaptation from The Batman, the constant presence in the Arkham games, Anne Hathaway’s version in The Dark Knight Rises, the list goes on. Catwoman has never really been out of the spotlight, but at the same time, unlike Harley, she has never really been in it either. Catwoman has always existed in that grey area, and perhaps it’s time she stretched her legs and took her place as a leading DC figure.
There’s a big place for Harley in the future, but we’re dangerously close to being very fatigued with the character, so let’s get to the end of 2024, get Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League, Joker: Folie à Deux, and another season of Harley Quinn in the books, and then pass the baton onto someone else for a least a few years.