DC stans are a very specific brand of extra, as is evidenced by the cult of personality (because that’s what it is) that developed around Zack Snyder’s objectively trash film “Martha v Martha: Dawn of Martha” and its follow-up. They are a part of DC’s meta-lore that Warner Bros. would love for us to forget, but Harley Quinn’s creative team just came through to remind everyone that it’s definitely a thing that happened.
Harley Quinn doesn’t spend all that much time on righting the wrongs that Batman v Superman and Justice League unleashed upon the world, but it does very solidly acknowledge the ways in which the film did an injustice to the DCEU franchise as a whole.
Keeping in spirit with Harley Quinn’s larger theme of taking classic Batman stories and turning them into Harleen joints, the latest episode finally brought Bruce back into the picture. But it also emphasized that when the building collapsed on him in the last season...a building collapsed on him. It’s not very often that comics or adaptations of comics stories take the time to acknowledge that when superheroes get hurt, there’s a bit of downtime that they have to take in order to heal. Harley Quinn sends it all up by focusing on Bruce recovering in Wayne Manor because he legitimately can’t walk. Both Harley and Bruce are hunting for the kind of physical advantage that would make it possible for either of them to fight their enemies.
The only person in Gotham who still has the physical capability and general mindset to fight crime is one Barbara Gordon, who finally embraces her Batgirl identity with the sort of cavalierness that makes you question why Jim Gordon doesn’t immediately know who she is. What’s fun about Harley Quinn’s spin on Babs is that in addition to being younger and more fun than Bruce, she’s also a streamer. Batgirl is a presence on Gotham’s streets knocking villains’ heads, but she’s also a symbol who reminds Gothamites that as bad as things are, there are people fighting to keep things stable.
For the most part, this is what this episode of Harley Quinn revolves around—as well as Two-Face and Bane working with one another before coming to the conclusion that they can’t—it’s meant to remind you that while the show is about the clown lady, her plant girlfriend, and their weird friends, they all exist within a larger universe of superheroes and villains.
What makes Harley Quinn’s joking commentary about the Snyder Cut so funny—it’s visualized in a meta-commentary as a bearded bro who abhors the fact that he likes Harley Quinn as a show—is how precise and honest the read is. We’ve all been witness to that very peculiar brand of Snyder-obsessed nerd that’s bought into the idea that there’s another cut of Justice League that exists in a wholly different space than the schlock that was put into theaters. We know that no matter how many members of the movie’s cast come out with desperate attempts at drumming up interest in the project we all knew was bad, there’s really no way of convincing the public that Justice League was a good movie. That being said, it’s difficult to impress upon cult members why their being in a cult is bad for them, and so the show moves on—not making apologies, but just moving forward because it can’t be bothered to convince the inconvincible.
Truly, though, those meta-commentary scenes in which two men exist in a universe quite like ours, where Harley Quinn is a show on a streaming service, were a joy to watch. It’s rare that a room of writers come out to be playfully hostile toward the fandom that make their shows exist and then rag on a number of other stories within the broader media franchise. Gotham, Pennyworth, and the entirety of the Arrowverse were victims here, and their collective wrecking all served to make clear once again that Harley Quinn is truly ahead of the game.
Harley Quinn drops new episodes each Friday on DC Universe.
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