Just yesterday, you saw the new look for the Suicide Squad movie’s Harley Quinn. And today, we’ve asked Harley Quinn co-creator Bruce Timm for his thoughts on the lady who loves Mr. J and got some additional information on his new web series Justice League: Gods and Monsters Chronicles on Machinima.
Paul Dini and Bruce Timm created the larger-than-life cosplay staple, and beloved animation and comic book character Harley Quinn, who will be portrayed by Margot Robbie in David Ayer’s live-action Suicide Squad movie. We asked Timm about his thoughts on the new Quinn and what’s at the heart of everyone’s favorite clown. We also got some insight on his new web series and what it’s like to argue with DC over whether Superman bleeds.
What’s the secret to making characters that are decades old feel fresh?
Bruce Timm: I don’t know, I wasn’t expecting that one. It depends on what you’re doing. Right now, on this show obviously the whole mandate is to do something really, really radically different with them. So that’s great. I can do anything I want. That’s actually one of the appeals of doing this. Whenever I work with the traditional versions of the characters I always have to answer to DC Comics, they’re the gatekeepers. For the most part, when I try to work with those characters, I try to stay pretty traditional to what makes them who they are anyways. But every now and then I try to push the envelope and they’ll say “Oh no you can’t do that Superman would never do that, or Wonder Woman doesn’t do that, or Batman doesn’t do that.
So with these versions of the characters it’s actually pretty great because I get to make the rules, it’s great. It’s really, really bizarre because now we’re doing a spinoff comic based on these characters so in the email chain with DC Comics it’s so weird to see they’ll be throwing out an idea for approval and they’ll say, “oh well Bruce has the final say.” And I’m like really I get the finally say? Yes! That’s awesome!
That’s probably very different than it used to be.
It’s really different. No more long-winded arguments with DC Comics because “oh Superman doesn’t bleed,” or..
What was the longest email chain you’ve ever been in and what was it about, arguing politely?
I have no idea. They can go on and on.
I can imagine the “Superman doesn’t bleed,” being a 25-email kind of conversation.
That was a tough one, that was for our first DTV Superman: Doomsday they had somehow changed the rules in between the time the comic book came out and by the time we did the movie. Supposedly DC’s policy was that Superman doesn’t bleed. And I thought, wait a minute, the logo for that comic is the bloody S. And they go, “Nope his skin is invulnerable, nothing can break it.” And I thought, “Crap what do I do now?” I had to literally call Paul Levitz on the phone and ask, “Please can I have Superman bleed?” “Nope.”
You’ve been doing slightly more colorful or bright things lately, why go darker with [Justice League: Gods and Monsters Chronicles Season 1 & 2]?
I know that word [darker] gets thrown around a lot more because it’s a good word, it’s a sexy word. But it’s not that I wanted to go dark with it just for dark sake. But it’s so nice being in a platform where I don’t have to worry about if its appropriate for all ages. I don’t have to deal with standards and practices. Just my own personal bent kind of leans towards more sophisticated and adult storytelling anyways. So with these new versions of these characters it made sense to jump in into the deep end and see where we go. It’s not just dark for dark sake. I don’t want the show to just be just grim and depressing and angst filled all the time. At the same time I want it to be fun and humorous and all those good things, but at the same time to explore different flavors with these characters.
What sort of freedom does being online provide you, this is a huge change for you?
Just gotten in to that so... One of the things that really excites me about it is the fact that each episode is going to be really, really short. Each episode is only going to be 7 minutes long. At first I thought, “How the heck do I tell a complete story in 7 minutes.” And it’s not just “to be continued,” every single story is a self contained story, which does kind of connect to a larger arc. It’s been a little bit of a challenge trying to figure out the stories. But at the same time it’s also been really freeing. It means we can kind of do any sort of story we want. It changes all the rules you don’t have to do the slow build up, and introduce the characters, and do this and that and plot twists. It’s just, nope we’re just going to do the best parts of that story throw all the boring parts away.
Are you going to do title cards with it as well?
That hasn’t been decided yet, but if there are they’re going to be very brief.
Did you see the new Suicide Squad pic? Did you like it?
I just saw the pic like a couple hours ago. It was interesting. I was frankly a little nervous about what Harley would look like, but I thought she looked really cool. So I’m optimistic, we see.
You were one of the first people to bring Harley Quinn to center stage, especially her psyche. What are the most important elements to Harley Quinn?
It’s funny, because she started off as just like a one joke idea and she’s gained all these different dimensions from all the stories we did, and the stuff that happens in the comics. I think bottom line the most important thing about her is that she’s funny. One way or the other regardless of what her backstory is, or whether she’s in an abusive relationship with the Joker, or if she’s off on her own, or hanging out with Poison Ivy, or whether she’s a villain or a hero. I think bottomline her stories always have to be fun, if not flat out hilarious (but that would be even better). That’s one of the things I like about the current comic. They understand that, they’re not treating her as another angsty bizarre superhero type character. She’s really weird and funny and kind of chaotic.
And you liked her in Suicide Squad?
I just saw the one shot of her in the group shot. So far so good.
Justice League: Gods and Monsters Chronicles Season 1 will launch on Machinima this June and it already has a second season in production along with the DVD movie which will hit July 28th.