Concept art shows the disturbing evolution of Batman: Arkham City's Harley Quinn

Illustration for article titled Concept art shows the disturbing evolution of emBatman: Arkham City/ems Harley Quinn

We love pin-up art as much as anyone, but there's something weird about this newly released concept art showing the evolution of Harley Quinn in Batman: Arkham City. Maybe it's just that it shows how formulaic these sorts of female characters have gotten.

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You start off with some frankly gorgeous sketches of Harley's face:

Illustration for article titled Concept art shows the disturbing evolution of emBatman: Arkham City/ems Harley Quinn
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Illustration for article titled Concept art shows the disturbing evolution of emBatman: Arkham City/ems Harley Quinn

And then you get a sketch of the character, in which there are some really weird bits of feedback, like "give her an exposed bellybutton with a piercing," and "make her wear a fuzzy handcuff on one wrist." Not to mention the sexy/crying thing with her makeup, which is at least true to the Paul Dini conception of the character. (At the same time, Dini walked very, very close to the edge in terms of making Harley a survivor of an abusive relationship with the Joker, and seemed very conscious of what an explosive topic he was dealing with. This seems much less self-aware, and more Suicide Girl-y.)

Illustration for article titled Concept art shows the disturbing evolution of emBatman: Arkham City/ems Harley Quinn

And this is the end result of those changes, which looks sorta weird and porny-but-not-sexy:

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Illustration for article titled Concept art shows the disturbing evolution of emBatman: Arkham City/ems Harley Quinn

And then, this final version, incorporating some other designs. The sexy/damaged aspect is brought to the fore here, with the unmasked picture looking a bit like she's about to have a nervous breakdown. (Update: As several people have pointed out, the "unmasked" picture is actually from an older game, Vampire: The Masquerade: Bloodlines, which the designers were using as a reference. I promoted comments pointing that out, but probably should have added that info to this post directly. So here it is!)

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Illustration for article titled Concept art shows the disturbing evolution of emBatman: Arkham City/ems Harley Quinn

Luckily, the actual version in the game is somewhat better than the concept art, with an outfit that looks more practical and has a lot more leather. And no handcuff, which I could see being a major drawback in a fight. Here are a couple of screenshots:

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Illustration for article titled Concept art shows the disturbing evolution of emBatman: Arkham City/ems Harley Quinn
Illustration for article titled Concept art shows the disturbing evolution of emBatman: Arkham City/ems Harley Quinn
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Tons more Batman: Arkham City concept art at the link. [Comic Book Movie]

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DISCUSSION

Especially the colored prelim versions remind me of nothing so much as Gothy McTits from NCIS. This is her name in my head, I know her character has a real one. But from a visual standpoint, that's all that stands out. Bland over-sexualiztation with a pathetic attempt at "edgy" and at best glancing acquaintance with any source material, much less original character design.